How to Build a Picnic Table

Anybody who knows how to build a picnic table knows the joys of dining outdoors. The smell of barbecued food, the sound of children playing and the feel of sun make any summer meal that much better. And a picnic table puts you right in the center of things.

How To Build A Picnic Table That Will Last

The classic picnic table gets its strength from two A-frame supports. The built-in table and seats are constructed from simple flat boards. Your picnic table should be constructed of rugged wood-pressure treated wood is fine, but red cedar would really dress the project up. All hardware should be galvanized. Ready to get started? Here's what you need to know:

  • Building the top. An 8' table will minimize your cutting. To start, cut three 26" sections of 2"x4" for the under top supports. Next, line up the eight, 8' 2"x4" parallel to each other to form the top. Make marks across the top boards at 4", 48" and 92" and nail one of the supports across the top boards at each of these points. Centering the support boards should allow the top to overhang the supports by 1" on each side.
  • Cut the frame pieces. From 2"x6" stock, cut two 5' long pieces for the cross bars of the A-frame and four pieces for the legs of the frame. The legs should have their ends cut to a 60-degree angle and should 33-1/2" long.
  • Assemble the A-frames. Pre-drill and bolt ½" carriage bolts to attach the cross bars to the A-frame legs. The top of the cross bar should be 17" from the base of the legs and the legs should be 50" apart at their base and 21" apart at the top.
  • Attach the top. With the top turned upside down. Attach the A-frames to the outside top supports using galvanized screws. Attach a 2"x4" seat stringer 5" in from each end of the cross bar. The tops of the seat stringers should be flush with the tops of the cross bars.
  • Brace the top. While the table is upside down, cut two angled braces from 2"x4" stock. The braces should connect the center top support to the A-frame cross bars. An angled cut of about 17-degrees and a length of about 44" should work, but measure carefully.
  • Build the seats. Finally, flip the table over and attach one 8' 2"x10" seat to the cross bars and seat stringers.
  • Finishing touches. You may want to lightly sand your picnic table to remove burs and splinters. Applying a coat of sealer will help your table stand up to the elements.
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