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Building a Picnic Table

 

 

Just try to get through a summer of barbecues without at least one picnic table. Now, here's a building project that is guaranteed to give you years and years of use, if you do it right.

 

Construction of this picnic table is straightforward, but you'll need to take the time 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.


WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS JOB:

TOOLS:

MATERIALS:

 

 


Picnic Table

Follow the steps below

 

To build this picnic table, cut and assemble the table slats and supports, then screw on the legs. Braces provide lateral support, while supports screwed to the legs hold the bench slats in place.

 

Cutting List 


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

  

Step 1: Cut the 2x8 table slats to length with a circular saw

Cut the table slats to length with a circular saw You'll cut the curved edge of the slats later. Then 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, as shown in picnic table image above.
  

Step 2: Clamp the table slats together, separated by spacers

Drill holes on the table support with a combination countersink bit 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.
  

Step 3: 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 21/2-inch deck screws.
  

Step 4: Cut the table legs about an inch longer than needed

With a circular saw cut the table legs at the marks 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.
  

Step 5: Mark a point 11/2 inches from the outside edge of the bottom of each leg

With a combination square mark a point 1 1/2 inches from the outside edge of the bottom of each leg & cut 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.

  

Step 6: Clamp the legs to the outside faces of the end table supports

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

Step 7: The legs are attached with two 3-inch carriage bolts

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

Step 8: 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 table top and mark the position of the bench supports on the legs Measure up 131/2-inches on the other arm. Then hold a straightedge across the square and mark the inside face of the legs.
  

Step 9: 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, 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.
  

Step 10: Mark parallel 60-degree angles on each end of the 2x4 braces

Use the circular saw to cut the braces Cut the braces with a circular saw.
  

Step 11: Lay out a right-angled notch at one end of each brace to fit the center table support

With a saber saw cut the notch Measure 21/4-inches on the edge of the brace that has just been cut and mark. Measure 13/4-inches deep from that mark and make the notch lines with a combination square. Cut the notch with a saber saw.
  

Step 12: 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.
 

Step 13: Cut the bench slats to length and put them in pairs upside down on a flat work surface

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

Step 14: Separate each pair of bench slats with 1/4-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 21/2-inch deck screws.
 

Step 15: Clamp the benches to the bench supports

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

Step 16: Build a jig to draw a curved edge on each end of the table top

Scribe a curved edge on each end of the table top with the help of a jig Begin by boring a hole for a pencil into a 6-foot 1x2. Then clamp a wood strip across the tabletop 10-inches from one end. Nail the 1x2 to the strip so it pivots, then scribe an arc. Repeat to mark the other end.
 

Step 17: Cut the curved edges of the tabletop with a saber saw

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

Step 18: Sand all rough edges, especially on the top of the benches and table

Apply a waterproof finish after sanding all rough edges Apply a waterproof finish.