Introduction: Fold Up Camping/Picnic Table
I like making things out of wood and also enjoy recycling old things that have been thrown away. I have no proper training in crafting but like to have a go at stuff. My wife wanted to buy a collapsible picnic table but I thought I could make one...
I liked the idea of a tripod base, to keep it stable on rough ground and my wife wanted it low, so that we could sit on the ground and she also wanted it to be round. I originally planned it as hexagonal or octagonal but ended up with a compromise, round table / hexagonal pattern. As normal, I did not make a proper plan, so the design evolved organically as I found things I could use, or overcame various problems.
Step 1: Ingredients
Sheet of plywood 1 metre square x 10 mm thick
Strong webbing about 4 metres
Branch of cherry tree
2 x bolts with washers and wing nuts
1 x wood screw and washer (I used a Danish coin)
Strong self adhesive Velcro
Tripod base; I found mine (a design classic) in the local recycling centre and it only cost me £0.40! Before I found this, I though about making one out of wood or using an old drum stand.
Varnish or paint
Various scraps of wood, rope etc
Step 2: Marking Out the Table Top
The first step was to mark out the table top. To draw a circle I found the centre of the board by drawing diagonals from the corners. I then used a piece of string pinned into the centre and a pencil to draw a circle. I left a little spare wood at the side and used this later on, but it depends on what size table you want.
I cut the circle out using a jigsaw.
I then marked out the hexagon using the same string. If you take a radius and use it to mark around the circumference of a circle, it goes six times. Joining up these marks will draw a hexagon. I realised that a hexagon can be used to create a 3d cube effect and I chose this design for the table top. I actually pained it before cutting it up, which is probably easier but the image will change when you add the gaps later.
I used four corners of the hexagon as references and then arbitrarily chose other points to divide the circle into planks I chose to divide the piece between the corners into three planks and the edges into two planks either side.
Step 3: Cutting the Boards
I used a hand saw to cut the circle into planks.
I filed and sanded the edges to remove splinters and made sure that no thin sharp edges were left vulnerable to breakage, this was especially important on the thin edge planks.
I then laid the planks out, as they would be in the finished table. I left a gap of 10 mm between each plank using an off cut to measure the spacing, this is needed to eventually allow the table top to fold up (NB this means that it is no longer a true circle and any pattern is also distorted but this does not show).
Using measurements from this layout, I cut two battens from off cuts to fit across the table as shown, these are used later to stiffen the table top for use.
I used a couple of off cuts to form a "square socket base" . This will be used later to join the table top to the table leg. I glued them together and cut a square hole in the centre. I filed and sanded of all the edges.
Step 4: Fixing the Webbing
I cut the webbing to allow for four straps across the table top and used glue and a staple gun to attach them to the table top. At this stage, it is important to be careful to maintain the 10 mm gaps between the boards. I made sure that the centre board was left clear for the leg and support.
I also attached squares of Velcro to both the supporting slats and on corresponding points on the table top (underneath). I made sure that the table top would be held tight by the slats when stuck down. As there was bound to be an element of tension involved,
I used the staple gun to ensure that the Velcro was firmly attached and would not move.
Step 5: Making the Socket and Leg
Using some plywood offcuts I made a socket two layers thick.
I cut a square hole in both parts and fixed them together with screws and glue.
I drilled two holes and corresponding holes in the table top middle slat. Through these holes I could put round headed bolts with washers attached with wing-nuts underneath.
For the leg I used a branch of cherry wood, I cut the square end to fit snugly into the socket. The bottom had to taper due to the shape of the tripod feet/legs (see next section). It was tricky to make it all come out level but with trial and error I managed it.
Step 6: Tripod Base
I was looking in the local recycling centre for some kind of tripod base. Three feet means it can always sit on rough ground without wobbling.
I found a lovely fold up tripod base. It was iconic and made from cast aluminium. It only cost 30 pence.
The tapered leg end slots into the tripod and fits tight enough to support the table well.
I fitted a washer (actually a coin) and a round headed screw to fix the table top to the leg - via the socket. This makes sure the table top does not wobble about on top of the leg and holds everything steady.
Step 7: Pack Up and Picnic
I found that the table and all it's constituent parts could be rolled up into a bundle and I tied it off with a scrap of spare rope. I deally I would make some kind of canvas carrying