Project Guide

How to Build a Picnic Table

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Gather Tools & Materials
Pressure-treated boards stacked in a pile.

Building this picnic table plan starts with choosing the right wood. Hardwood or pressure-treated boards are a popular choice. Pressure-treated wood is easy to stain, durable and budget-friendly. You’ll also need tools and materials such as a circular saw, miter saw, drill, belt sander, deck screws and wood glue.

Measure & Cut Table Pieces
Someone measuring and marking a pressure-treated board.

Use the following cut list to create the pieces you’ll need for this DIY picnic table. Remember the old carpenter's rule: measure twice, cut once. Here are the pieces and measurements you’ll need:

  • 4 tabletop slats: 1 1/2 x 7 1/4 x 72 inches 
  • 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 3/4 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

Cut the table legs about an inch longer than needed, so you can level them later. Draw a 60-degree cutting angle at each end of the legs. Position the cut to get the proper length. Cut each leg at the 60-degree marks with a circular saw.

Once you complete your cuts, see steps 3-10 to assemble this traditional picnic table.

Make the Tabletop
Someone using a drill on a DIY table top.
  • Place spacers between the tabletop slats and clamp the slats together.
  • Place the table supports on the slats. Place the end table supports 7 inches from the end of the table. Place the middle table support flat and centered. 
  • Drill through the supports with a combination countersink bit. Drill deep enough to set the wood screw heads below the surface.
  • Using a drill, screw the two outermost slats to one another. You may need to move the support later in the construction.
  • 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, 2 1/2-inch deck screws.
Cut Off Leg Corners
Someone cutting off a table leg with a circular saw.

Here's how to trim the leg so it is less likely to trip someone after assembly. Use a combination square to measure each cut accurately.

  • Mark a point 1-1/2-inches from the outside edge of the bottom of each leg. Cut off the corner. 
  • Butt a combination square against the end of a leg. Draw a line from the point to the outside edge. Cut off the corner. 
Attach Legs
Picnic table legs clamped to the bottom of a tabletop.

Clamp the legs to the outside faces of the end table supports. Butt together their inside edges at the gap between the center slats. After clamping the legs, use two 3-inch carriage bolts to attach them. 

  • Counter bore a hole for a washer and nut. 
  • Drill clearance holes the same diameter as the bolt shanks. 
  • Slide each bolt into its hole, add a washer and tighten the nut.
Make Bench Supports
Builders screwing in a support for the attached benches.
  • Mark the position of the bench supports on the legs by laying one arm of a framing square on the tabletop. 
  • Measure up 13 1/2-inches on the other arm. Hold a straightedge across the square. Mark the inside face of the legs.
  • Miter-cut the ends 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. Fasten the bench supports with 3-inch carriage bolts.
Put in Table Support Braces
Someone screwing in a brace for the picnic table.
  • Mark parallel 60-degree angles on each end of the 2 x 4 braces. 
  • Use the circular saw to cut the angles.
  • Lay out a right-angled notch at one end of each brace to fit the center table support. 
  • Measure 2 1/4-inches on the edge of the brace that has just been cut and mark. 
  • Measure 1 3/4-inches deep from that mark. Make the notch lines with a combination square. Cut the notch with a saber saw.
  • Put the braces in place. Trim off any part that sticks out beyond the bench edge.
  • Drill pilot holes on each brace and then drive in the screws. 
  • Test-fit the braces. Adjust the notch using sandpaper or chisel it until it fits. If necessary, move the leg assembly. 
  • Drill pilot holes at each end. 
  • Drive in No. 8, 3-inch deck screws.
Make Benches
Someone drilling a small board into a bench.
  • Separate each pair of bench slats with 1/4-inch spacers. Clamp each assembly together. 
  • Cut the two bench cleats to size. Make a 60-degree bevel at each end. Place the bench cleats at the center of the bench slats. Drill holes on the bench cleats.
  • Drill holes into the slats with a combination countersink bit. 
  • Drive in No. 8, 2 1/2-inch deck screws.
  • Drill holes with a combination countersink bit for 4-inch deck screws.
  • Screw the bench supports to the benches.
Curve Table & Bench Ends
Someone using a jig saw to create a curve on a wood board.

Here’s how to create a curved edge on top of the table:

  • Bore a hole for a pencil into a 6-foot 1-inch x 2-inch board. 
  • Clamp a wood strip across the tabletop 10 inches from one end. 
  • Nail a 1-inch x 2-inch to the wood strip, loose enough to pivot. Pivot it, marking the arc. 
  • Repeat these instructions to draw a curved edge on the other end of the table.
  • Use a saber saw to cut the curved edges of the tabletop. 
  • Repeat above to make a similar curve at each end of each bench.
Sand & Stain
Someone sanding the top of a picnic table.
  • Use a hand or belt sander to smooth all rough edges. Pay close attention with your sander to the tabletop and the top of the benches. 
  • Stain your DIY picnic table with a weather-resistant polyurethane.

Fire up the grill and set the table. Using just a few woodworking skills, you can build a great-looking DIY picnic table. Remember to measure carefully and take your time. Whether you need a saw, deck screws or the right color stain, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.