How to Build a Picnic Table
Time Required: Over 1 day
Prepare for outdoor picnics with friends and family by building your own DIY picnic table. This guide will walk you through the steps.
Tools & Materials
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.