Introduction: Make a Collapsable Table for Concerts in the Park!

Picture of Make a Collapsable Table for Concerts in the Park!

We saw this table, currently offered by Crate & Barrel, at concert in the park. We couldn't resist cloning it.
UPDATE! I've written another Instructable for a carry bag for this table here.

Step 1: Bill of Materials

1 ea. 48" x 7/8" wooden dowel
3 ea. 2" x 1/4" x 8' hardwood lattice
1 ea. 1" x 1/4" x 8' hardwood lattice
4 ea. 1/4-20 x 1" Carriage bolts
4 ea. 1/4-20 brass threaded insert nuts
4' x 1" nylon web belt
1/4" staples

Step 2: Cut the Dowel

Picture of Cut the Dowel

Begin by cutting the dowel into four equal length pieces. Notice that I didn't say 12" pieces. This is because I have not seen a 48" dowel that was actually 48" long in recent years.

Step 3: Cut the Lattice

Picture of Cut the Lattice

Cut the 2" lattice into 24" pieces. You'll need ten of them. I suggest trimming the whole stack at once to make sure they are all of equal length. Be very careful doing this. I used a chop saw and clamped the whole stack to the fence to keep it from shifting.
You'll need two 24" pieces of the 1" lattice too.

Step 4: Sand the Ends

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Sand the ends of the dowels and planks.

Step 5: Burn the Nylon Belt

Picture of Burn the Nylon Belt

Cut two 24" pieces of nylon web belt and burn the ends with a lighter to keep it from fraying. This is a handy tip when working with nylon cloth too.

Step 6: Line Up the Planks

Picture of Line Up the Planks

Line up the planks using a scrap of the lattice as a spacer to make sure they are spaced evenly. If one side is nicer than the other, place the nicer side down at this point because we are looking at the bottom.

Step 7: Staple the Belt to the Planks

Picture of Staple the Belt to the Planks

Make sure the staples are shorter than the thickness of the wood and staple. My stapler isn't very strong so I had to assist it a little...with a hammer. Also pay attention to the surface you are working on because when I tapped the staples with the hammer it marred the other side a little.

Step 8: Continue Installing Planks

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Continue installing planks making sure to move your spacers and keep the web belting pulled snug.

Step 9: Drill Some Holes

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Lay the 1" planks across the table top and drill 1/4" holes in the corners. These 1" planks are spreaders to keep the nylon web belting taut. Enlarge the holes in the tabletop to receive the square head of the carriage bolts.

Step 10: Install the Spreaders

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The table top should look something like this.

Step 11: Make the Legs

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Using a straight edge and a scribe, mark one end of each dowel in the center. Clamp the dowel into a vise and drill a 5/16" hole 1" deep into the end. Note the cardboard wrapped around the wood to protect it from the vise jaws.
I suspect there may be a jig for this, but I didn't have one so my holes may not have been perfectly centered.

Step 12: Install the Threaded Inserts

Picture of Install the Threaded Inserts

These brass threaded inserts are very delicate and difficult to install squarely. A couple of mine broke, but the inside thread was still good so I didn't have to make new ones. I suspect there's a special tool for this too.

Step 13: Put It All Together

Picture of Put It All Together

From here, just screw the legs onto the carriage bolts and filp it over.
When you take it apart it rolls up into a handy little bundle.
You can apply a finish if you like. I often use olive oil or brown Kiwi Brand wax shoe polish.
Don't forget to make the Carry Bag too!


mduncan6 made it! (author)2015-07-06

Marsh, I thought I left a previous comment but I'll post again anyway. This was a very inspirational 'ible!

I showed my wife and told her "bet I could make that in a few hours", she said "really???" (with the eye roll), and later that night we enjoyed some snacks at the local drive-in theater - our tasty snacks resting on this very table. Not only quick, cheap, easy and fun, but I had my 7-year old daughter help out... learning how to build something, how to prepare the setup with spacers, why we burn synthetic fiber frays, how to use a staple gun and quality time with Dad all on the agenda.

This has given me more thoughts on how to modify for different purposes, including additional cross-bar (cross-slat) supports underneath for added stability, the different fasteners already mentioned in the comments, leg types, and case styles. I'm thinking a PVC case with strap handles could easily be made to provide more durability & waterproofing in transit. :-)

Well done and thank you for sharing such a great project!!

Marsh (author)mduncan62015-07-06

Fine job! I hold this as a workshop and only women show up. Talk about a high quality problem!

jbuschie made it! (author)2015-06-20

Hey Marsh, just wanted to say thank you for the inspiration, and the great Instructable!

I wanted a more rustic look, so I went to a local architectural salvage yard and found 4 old stair banisters for $3/each (Bauer Brothers Salvage in Minneapolis) and used those in place of dowels for the legs. I also added a small pouch to the bottom of the table, to keep an Allen wrench handy, for assembly-

Thanks much, I just finished this, and I wanted you to know that I greatly appreciate you taking the time to share your project!

RW16 made it! (author)2017-11-12

Great little project.

duflepud made it! (author)2016-05-26

Great little project! This little table will be getting some use this summer.

mlhintx (author)2016-04-25

Gonna try this for a collapsible bridge for our girl scouts bridging ceremony.

EmiliaL (author)2015-06-02

cunado made it! (author)2015-01-09

Thanks for the Instructable Marsh! I decided to make one as well. I adapted due to materials I had. The top was a 24" X 24" X 3/8" sheet of marine plywood that had a visit to my table saw to be turned into strips. Lattice would have been faster to use... The under table brace I used was a strip of aluminum I had. I left the webbing long and added buckles for a self contained wrap. I like the bag you made and I will be looking for discarded quad chair bags or will scare up some fabric and try my hand at the sewing machine...

As for the thread into wood, I like to use inserts that are externally threaded. They bite in to the wood and have done well for me in my applications. The external threads keep them seated so that pull-out in the dowel is a lessor concern.

m16uel (author)cunado2015-01-23

te quedo demasiado bien

cunado (author)m16uel2015-01-23

Muchisimas Gracias.

Marsh (author)cunado2015-01-09

Fine job! Looks great!

san39153 (author)2011-04-19

This is great! I had the idea to build one of these after I went on a week long canoe trip down the Mississippi river with a professional guide. Then I found these great instructions! Way more economical than what I was originally considering (

I did find one very helpful improvement to the original instructions. I believe the object in this picture is called a locking blind T-nut. It is much easier to install than threaded inserts and will definitely go on straight. They can be found at Lowes in the Hardwear > Furniture Parts section. Less than $1 each. Pre-drill a hole in each leg, put a few drops of gorilla glue around the pre-drilled hole, then hammer one of these nuts on top your hole (gently, so your leg doesn't split).

The only thing to double check is that the size of your dowel leg is big enough to hold the T-nut, because the locking teeth on the nut need some extra room to bite down.

Good luck and happy tinkering!

drobertson123 (author)san391532014-11-23

Just one warning about these t-nuts. I use them for lots of things and do love them, but they are designed to be put in on the opposite side of the wood from where the bolt enters. In that configuration the pressure of the bolt actually holds the t-nut into the wood.

In this case the t-nut would be on the top of the leg and the tension would be pulling the nut out of the wood. You are also gluing against end grain which doesn't have much strength.

The best solution in this case would probably be a bolt with a barrel nut. They are inserted in a hole drilled perpendicular to the bolt and provide an extremely solid connection in these situations. You find these on furniture all the time and they can be bought at most hardware stores for little cost. Examples below;

I love the project and you gave me some great inspiration for something similar. Great job.

Marsh (author)drobertson1232014-11-23

We've now built over 100 of these in workshops held by the People Who REALLY Build Things! The design is proven, easy to build and cheap!

drobertson123 (author)Marsh2014-11-23

I happen to really build things and I was just trying to share some of my experience also. Your reply seems a bit defensive and I am sorry if you took what I was suggesting as an attack on your design, but I do believe that for a few extra dollars you would have a connection that is stronger and will last longer.

Your choice is cheaper and that is great, but it is also good to have alternatives and that is all I was offering.

You have a great design that I got some excellent ideas from. I enjoy learning from good project and other peoples thoughts.

cynthiaw1 (author)2014-10-03

About how much did this cost you to make? Just want to compare the cost here to the Amazon cost of $40.00.

Marsh (author)cynthiaw12014-10-04

When I hold a workshop, they're about $13 each. The prototype was like $26

Marsh (author)2014-09-12

The legs come off and the spreaders and legs all roll into a bundle with the top. Build one and you'll see exactly what I mean.

bschless (author)2013-02-21

Lovely! Thank you!

shazni (author)2012-04-04

can this be made a 8' by 3' table with say 6 legs? only i'm wondering about the surpport long can they be made?

Marsh (author)shazni2012-04-05

My friend mad one 3' x 6' out of aluminum slats. It tuned out pretty nice. Sorry, no pix.

shazni (author)Marsh2012-04-06 would it be able to carry weight if i use 2x2 say 4 feet for legs? and say 1/2" thick wood for slats?...would love to make a easy table as this so i can set it up and lay my food when i have a party.

JimQPublic (author)2011-08-03

Great description! Once I figure out how to support longer legs I may make a few for camping. Our car is too small for most folding tables.

Woody71 (author)2011-06-20

Love this 'ible!

I'd like to make the legs a bit longer to use as a taller side table. Any suggestions on how to stabilize the legs to minimize wobble?

Thanks!! :-)

cullenroy (author)2011-04-13

this agreat table for many uses. A short piece of webbing looped and stapled to the bottom of an end slat makes for a fine handle.

robertblacksmith (author)2010-10-10

cool idea. a friend gave me the roll up top to a camp table he broke the legs on. i'm half way done!! lol

magpie21 (author)2010-05-21

 I've been wanting to get one of those collapsable camping tables to use when I'm out with my telescope. Instead of buying one, I'll just modify the dimensions a little on this one.

static (author)2009-06-13

Nice project. Scrounge up some fancy turned or tapered legs, and you maybe permitted to make camp in the upscale, uppity section of the park. :)

oakspoor (author)static2010-05-20

Stair balusters can be picked up at Lowe's or HD for a reasonable price;$rpp=30$No=90$Ntt=baluster$identifier=

These can be trimmed to length and stained to make a very snooty leg.

YesterdaysFish (author)2009-10-16

I loved this Instructable and decided to build a table of my own.  I made a couple of changes to the original design.  Instead of using metal hardware, I turned the legs into "bolts" using a wood threader and made nuts to keep them in place.  Each leg has two nuts, one below the table's surface and bottom bar and another above it. The table is pretty stable and can be leveled at each corner, making it pretty adjustable.

Instead of using plain nylon strapping, I used some inexpensive car tie-downs.  The strap's buckle hangs about 1/2" off the edge of the table.  The rest of the strap is left long at the opposite edge.  Doing it this way, lets me roll up the table's surface, legs and bottom bars into a secure, self contained package.

For good measure, I also added some rubber tips to prevent the dowels from picking up moisture or dirt.

Thanks for the inspiration, Marsh.  My wife and I love this thing!

yoyology (author)YesterdaysFish2010-05-20

That is gorgeous!  Love the threaded wood.

PAWZ (author)2010-05-20

Only yesterday I saw this aluminium one advertised to be on sale soon in Lidl, £29.99, and thought it was a great idea, and today I see yours!
It wont be there long so I'll add the pics too.

As I read this I cant help notice that next to me is a dismantled shelving unit, that has been lying in wait for me to make use of, and is already made up of lattice planks, perfect for this job, which means I'm already half done :-D Hooray!
Great instructable :-)

jlwaf123 (author)2009-08-30

Looking for hardwood lattice? I just bought 1/4" poplar at Home Depot and then treated with exterior grade poly spray.

Ricardo Furioso (author)2009-08-03

Can you please say where you found the hardwood lattice? Everything else seems pretty straightforward. Thanks for a nice Instructable.

Marsh (author)Ricardo Furioso2009-08-03

And cheaper.

Marsh (author)Ricardo Furioso2009-08-03

I got it at Lowe's and it was kinda' pricey. Later, we ran a workshop where we ripped down Kiln Dried Doug Fir for the lattice. Those were actually quite a bit stronger.

kidproquo (author)2009-08-02

You should really use mineral oil. Olive oil will rot and stink. The mineral oil is also edible so you don't have to worry about eating off of the table.

russ veinot (author)2009-07-28

If you use a metal cross dowel instead of the brass insert, they are a whole lot easier to put in. Just be sure to epoxy the cross dowel in place to stay put, or maybe wrap the leg with a piece of the nylon strap to hold it in the cross hole. Cross dowels are slightly strong, too.

browncar (author)2009-07-22

Love the project .These brass fittings are great. Where did you find them ? Are they easily available?

Marsh (author)browncar2009-07-22

They were at Lowes. I've since found aluminum units at Home Depot that are less expensive and screw in with an allen wrench for easier alignment.

bettbee (author)2009-07-18

Wow. This is a DAMN fine instructable! Your table looks every bit as nice as the one on Crate and Barrel's website and I plan to make several for plein art work. Thanks!

twinbrook (author)2009-07-09

you could actually use slats off of pallets for your lattice pieces.

jlwaf123 (author)2009-06-20

Great project! Thanks very much. To make mine more like the Crate & Barrel original I used hanger bolts in the legs (easier to install than threaded inserts) and connector bolts on the top (using expoxy). The other advantage is there's no loose hardware (carriage bolts) to keep track of. I also put rubber feet on the bottom of the legs.

spaetzlemeister (author)2009-06-13

Great Idea, I need a couple of these for camping in a couple weeks!! THANKS

nolte919 (author)2009-06-12

Crossdowels could possibly be used to attach the legs. I've never used them but I've heard they're really strong and might be easier than your threaded inserts.

I might have to make a table like this for camping.

agg (author)2009-06-11

Put the proper size nut onto one carriage bolt, and run it up to about 1/2" up from the bottom end. Screw the bolt into a threaded insert until the nut bottoms out on the top of the insert. Using the appropriate wrench on the nut, this is your tool for installing the insert. I do this all of the time except that I use hex head bolts so that I can use a box end wrench.

srilyk (author)2009-06-11

An easy way to add strength to this (and you could do it with your existing one) is add two slats at 90 degrees to the two long support slats, so the edge is supporting the weight. If you wanted them removable you could probably hinge them and just have a few pins to keep it sturdy. I'm really looking forward to getting into a house so I can start building all these fun things!

Marsh (author)srilyk2009-06-11

Don't let the lack of a house keep you from small projects like this. All the wood could have been cut in the lumber isle at home depot with their miter box and saw. Also, I'm diggin' the hinged leg idea some folks have proposed which would eliminate the need for a vice.

bmorse14 (author)2009-06-11

An easier way to thread these in is to nut and a bolt with the same thread size as the inside of the insert. Thread the nut onto the bolt first, then thread the bolt into the insert so it does not stick out the bottom. Tighten the nut up to the insert, now you can turn the bolt and it will drive the insert. If the nut slips, use two nuts jammed together up against the insert.

schmoopie (author)2009-06-11

Definately a must do!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an environmentally conscious experimenter who loves to bring people together, build things, and when possible...blow things up! See us on YouTube too ...
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