The Picnic Table

Mary and I are big into hosting people and events at our place. We liked to do it in the loft and, while different, we like doing it here in the new house. Since we have a very large lawn with a great patio out back (something we never had at the loft), we set up a Memorial Day BBQ and invited family and friends.

The BBQ turned out great, but before that we had to do something about our outdoor seating arrangements. We inherited some great wooden patio furniture from my grandparents, but we were missing one critical element: a picnic table.

I resolved I would rectify this situation the only reasonable way one can: I would built it myself. One of the reasons I chose to do it this way, besides the obvious enjoyment of knowing I did it (assuming it came out right and didn’t collapse when people sat on it) was that you really can’t purchase a picnic table with a detached bench anymore. They are all the single piece numbers where the bench and the table are a single unit. Ugh.

That series of tubes, the Internet, provided me with what I needed: sweet plans for your own DIY picnic table. The original plans are from Popular Mechanics and are very easy to follow. I decided to not use pressure treated wood because it’s being used as seating and a table, and pressure treated lumber is loaded with chemicals. We plan to paint the set when finished anyways, which will protect it, and it will be staying on the patio, under cover.

So, off I went to get a pile of lumber and a bag of bolts and screws at the local hardware store. It cost about $100:


I borrowed a circular saw from my neighbors since I don’t have one yet and set to work in the back yard. The key element from the plan I found was to use the template drawn on a sheet of plywood to mark off the cuts for the legs. It made it much, much simpler.


Like any good project, this one took far longer than I anticipated. I began doing this work around noon the day before the BBQ. 14 hours later at 2am, I was finishing in my garage:


In the end, it all came together. The bench is awaiting its paint, but it looks great and fits in well on the patio. Only one leg was a little bit off, a quick shim nailed to the bottom corrected that:


Coincidentally, I seemed to have just rebuilt what was already here:

That’s my brother Derek and I, circa 1984.

5 thoughts on “The Picnic Table

  1. Kelly Wittenauer

    Enjoy reading your blog. Ahh – the boundless energy and enthusiasm of young home owners! I remember when my husband and I were like this twenty some years ago. When I was a child in the sixties, our next door neighbors built a picnic set just like yours from redwood. Like my brothers and I, their daughters were young kids at the time. Our feet didn’t yet touch the floor while sitting on the benches. With them being detached, they were rather unstable. And the substantial overhangs beyond the legs at the ends of those benches managed to dump many an unwary adult as well. The picnic set became a sort of long running joke!


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