Las Pilitas Nursery

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This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

How to build a simple picnic table.

Tired of imported junk that falls apart in a few months? Or just cheap? Here are a few ideas on how to put together a garden table or picnic table.
The point of this is to do it cheap, with scarp lumber or used lumber. So the only plan is to be able to use the wood you find. A detailed plan would mean you'd have to go buy something, and if you price materials you'll be well over $100 and have a wobbly table that may fall apart. So for at least your first try, use junk to make junk.
Simple picnic table legs - grid24_12
There are several important points about an outdoor table. You'll need to brace the legs both ways. The 1X3 or 1X4 is keeping the table from rocking one way and the 90 degree is keeping it stable the other.
picnic table legs and bracing frame - grid24_12
The original table had two nails from the top to the brace. After 50 years they got loose and I had to put in a metal clip and some short screws to secure it back to the table top.
upside down picnic table - grid24_12
The original cross member was nailed, a couple of screws stabilized it. These are redwood legs, notice they are slightly eaten.
How to build a  picnic table. Bracing is important and the metal clips help. - grid24_12
This table is out of 2x4's and 2x6's, you'll need help just to right it. Notice the metal clip.
picnic table bracing - grid24_12
This is the repair the engine or cut up the cow table. As long as the bracing holds it will support a great deal of weight.
The legs need to be all the same length, hard to fudge on that. So line them up and cut them all at the same time, about 30 inches if vertical, 32 if spread out a little.

If you use fir 2x6's for the table top you'll get splinters!
Here is an old commercial redwood table. Originally it was bolted to the top. Someone added a lot of nails, and it till kind of comes apart now and then. - grid24_12
An old commercially made redwood picnic table.
This outdoor table was built out of a gate, that had been built out of a fence. Took about 1 hour to build and a few screws and metal clips. - grid24_12
If you understand the basics of how to make a table you can use almost any material to make one quickly. This was a garden gate that still had good wood but the cross brace had a bunch of nails in it but still sagged.
But laying on it side it makes a great table top, perfect for one or two people or a laptop. The only new things for this table were the screws and a few of the metal clips.