Project Guide

How to Build a Picnic Table

1
CUT THE TABLE SLABS
Cut table slabs - How Build Picnic Table

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


  • 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.