How to Build a Picnic Table

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Show off your DIY skills by building your own picnic table for endless outdoor fun

Prepare for outdoor picnics with friends and family by building your own DIY picnic table. This guide will walk you through the steps.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT

Cut List

Follow this cut list. Double-check the lengths to make the cuts accurately, especially the angled cuts for the table legs and braces. Remember the old carpenter's rule: Measure twice, cut once.

The steps below will indicate when to use each piece of lumber.

4 table slats 1 1/2-inches D x 7 1/4-inches W x 72-inches L
4 bench slats 1 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 68 inches
4 table legs 1 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 40 1/2 inches
Center table support 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 28 3/4 inches
End table supports 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 28 ¾ inches
Bench supports 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 61 inches
Braces 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 30 3/4 inches
Bench cleats 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 10 inches

1
Cut the table slabs
Cut table slabs - How Build Picnic Table

• Cut the 2 x 8-inch table slats to length with a circular saw. You’ll cut the curved edge of the slats later.
• Cut the three table supports. Cut a 60-degree angle on each end of the two end table supports and a 60-degree bevel on the end of the center table support.

2
Clamp the table slats together, separated by spacers
Clamp together, separated spacers - Build Picnic Table

• Place the table supports on the slats: the two end ones on edge 7 inches from the end, and the middle one flat and centered.
• Drill holes with a combination countersink bit, drilling deep enough to set the screw heads below the surface.

3
Drive screws into two outermost slats
Drive screws two outermost slats - Build Picnic Table

• Drive screws in the two outermost slats only, so that the support can be moved later in the construction, if necessary.
• The two end table supports have to be screwed to the slats.
• Screw the two end table supports to the slats with No. 8 4-inch deck screws.
• Attach the center table support to the slats with No. 8 2½-inch deck screws.

4
Cut the table legs
Cut table legs - Build Picnic Table

• Cut the table legs about an inch longer than needed.
• Draw a 60-degree cutting angle at each end of the legs, positioned to give you the proper length.
• Cut the legs at the marks with a circular saw.

5
Cut off leg corners
Cut off leg corners - Build Picnic Table

• Mark a point 1 ½ inches from the outside edge of the bottom of each leg.
• With a combination square, mark a point 1 ½ inches from the outside edge of the bottom of each leg and cut off the corner.
• Butt a combination square against the end and draw a line from the point to the outside edge. Cut off the corner.
• This trims the leg so it is less likely to trip someone once the table is assembled.

6
Clamp the table legs
Clamp table legs - Build Picnic Table

• Clamp the legs to the outside faces of the end table supports.
• Butt together their inside edges at the gap between the center slats.

7
Attach legs
Attach legs - How Build Picnic Table

• Attach the legs with two 3-inch carriage bolts.
• Counter bore for a washer and nut, and drill clearance holes the same diameter as the bolt shanks. Slide each bolt into its hole, add a washer and tighten the nut.

8
Mark for bench supports
Mark bench supports - How Build Picnic Table

• Mark the position of the bench supports on the legs by laying one arm of a framing square on the tabletop.
• Lay one arm of a framing square on the tabletop and mark the position of the bench supports on the legs.
• Measure up 13 ½ inches on the other arm, then hold a straightedge across the square and mark the inside face of the legs.

9
Shape the bench supports
Shape bench supports - Build Picnic Table

• Miter-cut the end of the bench supports to 60-degree angles.
• Drill holes on the outside face of each leg to clamp the bench supports to the legs.
• Clamp the bench supports to the inside of the legs and align them with the mark on each leg and center them across the table’s width.
• Drill four holes on the outside face of each leg and fasten the bench supports with 3-inch carriage bolts.

10
Cut the braces
Cut braces - Build Picnic Table

• Mark parallel 60-degree angles on each end of the 2 x 4 braces.
• Use the circular saw to cut the braces.

11
Fit the center table support
Fit center table support - Build Picnic Table

• Lay out a right-angled notch at one end of each brace to fit the center table support.
• Measure 2 ¼ inches on the edge of the brace that has just been cut and mark.
• Measure 1 ¾ inches deep from that mark and make the notch lines with a combination square.
• Cut the notch with a saber saw.

12
Position each brace
Position each brace - How Build Picnic Table

• Position each brace and mark the part that sticks out beyond the lower edge of the bench supports to trim it off.
• Drill pilot holes on each brace and then drive in the screws.
• Test-fit the braces. If they don't fit, adjust the notch with sandpaper or a chisel. In some cases, you may have to move the leg assembly.
• Drill pilot holes at each end for No. 8 3-inch deck screws. Then drive in the screws.

13
Cut bench slats
Cut bench slats - How Build Picnic Table

Cut the two bench cleats to size, making a 60-degree bevel at each end.

14
Clamp bench slats together
Clamp bench slats together - How Build Picnic Table

• Separate each pair of bench slats with ¼-inch spacers and clamp each assembly together.
• Drill holes on the bench cleats after positioning them at the center of the bench slats.
• Place the bench cleats at the center of the bench slats.
• Drill holes with a combination countersink bit and drive in No. 8 2 ½-inch deck screws.

15
Clamp benches to supports
Clamp benches supports - How Build Picnic Table

Drill holes with a combination countersink bit for 4-inch deck screws and screw the bench supports to the benches.

16
Draw a curved edge on ends of table
Draw curved edge ends table - Build Picnic Table

• Bore a hole for a pencil into a 6-foot-long 1 x 2.
• Clamp a wood strip across the tabletop 10 inches from one end.
• Nail the 1 x 2 to the strip so it pivots, then mark an arc. Repeat to mark the other end.

17
Cut the curved edges of the tabletop
Cut curved edges tabletop - Build Picnic Table

• Use the saber saw to cut the curved edges of the tabletop.
• Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to make a similar curve at each end of the benches.

18
Sand and finish
Sand finish - How Build Picnic Table

• Sand all rough edges, especially on the top of the benches and table.
• Apply a waterproof finish.