Project of the Week
to Build a Picnic Table
- Obtain a durable lumber suitable for the project. The
project in the photos uses pressure treated southern yellow
pine, recycled from an old deck. Choosing premium lumber,
or even a synthetic material made from recycled plastics
will afford a higher quality finished project. The table
built for this article is 72 inches (183 cm) long, 32 inches
(81,3 cm) wide, and 32 inches (81,3 cm) tall, and required
the following materials:
- 14 - 2x6 72 inches (183 cm) long.
- 5 - 2X4 30 inches (76,2 cm) long.
- 3 lbs. 12d (3 1/2 inch) hot dipped galvanized nails.
(Substitute 3 1/2 inch exterior (deck) screws for greater
- Cut the following boards, using a rafter or
speed square to scribe the correct angles:
- Cut 12 2X6 boards 72 inches (183 cm) long.
6 til bordplate. 2 til seat rails. 4 til sitteplate.
- Cut 3 2X4 boards, 30 inches (76,2 cm) from
long point to long point, with 45 degree angles on each
- Cut 4 2X6 boards 35 inches (88,9 cm) long
from long point to short point, with a 25 degree angle
on each end. Til bein.
- Note that you will also have to cut the diagonal
bracing underneath the table top, but it is best to
scribe this board to fit after the rest of the top is
- Lay out the top boards on sawhorses, setting
them so the best side (least knots, cracks, etc)
is down, since this will be the bottom of the table
- Nail the 2X4 boards with the 45 degree angle cuts
to the bottom of the table top, spaced 4 inches (10
cm) from either end and the third centered between the
ends. Toenail these to hold them in position until the
table is flipped over, when you can finish nailing the top.
- Position the 35 inch (88,9 cm) 2X6s
so they are centered over the short point of the table top
end rails as shown in the photo, and nail them securely
to the rails.
- Measure up (down from the top when the
table is flipped) 17 inches (43,2 cm). Drive
a nail into the leg at this mark, half way to the head.
This will support the seat rails, which you will install
- Center the seat rails (also 2X6 72 inches
- 183 cm - long), centered between the inverted table
legs, resting on the nails you have driven in at 17 inches.
Nail these through into the legs.
- Mark the centers of both the table top middle
rail and the seat rails. Scribe a 2X4 to fit diagonally
between these marks, as shown in the photo. Cut these, and
nail them securely into place.
- Invert your table so it is now standing on its
legs. Lay your seat boards (again, 2X6s, 72 inches
- 183 cm - long, on the seat rails that should be
sticking out from beneath the table on each side. You will
want to try them out for size, shifting them in or
out along the rail until they are comfortable for you. When
you have these rails in a desirable position, mark the location
of the outer seat board, remove them, and saw a 45 degree
angle on the rail so none of it will protrude from beneath
- Reposition the seat boards and nail them off.
Drive nails through the table top boards into their rails
to finish securing them.
- Cut the corners of the table top at a 45 degree
angle about 2 inches (5 cm) from the corners
so they are rounded, to make it less likely anyone will
bump into them.
- Sand and finish the table as you want.
You can use a silicone waterproofing sealer, an exterior
polyurethane (many so-called polyurethane products actually
degrade in ultraviolet light), or a semitransparent exterior
wood stain for this purpose.
- Set your table up in a shady spot and enjoy