Instructables
Picture of Picnic table with detached benches
finished1.jpg
Entertain thoughts of backyard barbecues and cookouts, having the neighbors over and eating outside with the family? A solid picnic table can be a central part of all of those events, and it doesn't have to be expensive or intricate. This design costs around $100 to build and just 4-6 hours of your time.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Table dimensions and design

Picture of Table dimensions and design
This particular table is very sturdy and probably a bit overbuilt. The benches can easily acommodate four adults, and if one person sits on the end, it won't tip the bench (within reason).

For the purposes of this instructable, the directions given will work if you use a different size or length table due to the absence of exact dimensions. For the curious, here are the approximate cut lengths for each member as this table was built:

Table
Top: (5) 2x6's
Legs: (4) 2x4 , ~38"
Leg cradle: (2) 2x4, ~29"
Center bracket: (1) 2x4, ~29"
Leg brace: (2) 2x4, ~38"

Two Benches
Top: (8) 2x4's
Legs: (12) 2x4, ~23"
Leg cradle: (6) 2x4, ~15"
Leg brace: (4) 2x4, ~13"
Leg brace support: (4) 2x4, ~15"

Notes:
Table legs were inset 18"
Bench outer legs were inset 12"

- The benches are very wide and comfortable. A more standard bench would probably use only three 2x4's for the top. You could also use 2x6's if you wish.

- The table itself at 30" across may be narrow if you plan on having a lot of guests and food all at the table at once. You may want to consider using an additional 2x6 for a 36" width. As we typically have less than 8 total at the table, food is located at the table ends and the table settings are in the center.
njackson175 months ago
Awesome design I've got some marine hardwood (iroko I think). Can't wait to make my own!
LewKuppler2 years ago
I made one of these tables on a Saturday with some friends. I love how I could fudge the dimensions a little bit here and there. I built with another gentlemen who 6 foot 4+ man like me and we got done and were proud of it and thought it was a perfect then my lady came out and gave me a funny look cause we made it rather taller then we probably should but meh its great for me hahaha!! Thanks for putting this up, i was thrilled to get the plans and sense of direction to go with!
forgot to post picture (no varnish or finishing work done on it yet)
2012-06-10_10-02-00_976.jpg
Thank you for posting these instructions, I made one and it came out beautiful. Check it out.
IMG00438-20120204-1625.jpg
Thanks for the instructable!

A friend and I started this little project this weekend using your design as a starting point. I liked the idea of detached benches, and your "measure twice, cut the first time, measure again, then make the final cut" way of building things.

I had to tear up a frame from who knows what off a slab in my back yard, and to my surprise found several good treated 2x4's that were perfect for this. I had enough to make the two benches, but I'll have to find another weekend to go to the Depot and get lumber for the table.

The first bench took about 2hrs, but the second one was done in less than an hour.

I found it helped to make a template for the legs out of cardboard the night before... although, the last leg attached was a little short (measure twice, cut the first time...) it was easily fixed with a little shimmy.

I also opted to only use two sets of legs on ea. bench instead of three (my benches are 6' x 1') and they feel quite sturdy.

Now I have two sturdy benches for the price of 50-75 wood screws!
Thanks!
cfoster164 years ago
This is the only thing that's confusing me. Are these pieces cut to any specific specifications?
arcandor (author)  cfoster163 years ago
The way I have written this, it may be adapted to any table size. The key is the choice of table and bench width - once you have the top width determined, all sizing is based on that. For example, take a look at the picture in step 4. Two guide 2x4's are clamped about 18 inches apart (the legs will be 18" tall). By placing the 2x4 to be cut on top, you can trace out the exact cut angle using the guide 2x4's. So all you need to measure is the height, which is equal or less than the width you selected.
bepartial4 years ago
This is a great instructable.  When I made mine, it was very similar but my wood for the bench and table tops was not flat.  I ran it through a planer and evened out the thickness as well as reduced nearly all of the warping and twisting.  I also used bolts instead of screws for most of the joining, but only because I had them left over from a previous project.

Marine varnish is a good choice for a protective finish.

Great job! 
makilac215 years ago
Me and my dad are making this picnic table and bench the only thing we did different was subtract a 2x4 from each beach then added an extra 2x6 to the table .it looks great so far . However yesterday when we were almost finishing up we got stuck on how to get the angles for the table Braces can you please explain how you got them.My dad said he was going to get some raft roofing book but that sounds too complicated and all of the instructions you've given up to this point have been pretty simple so it cant be that hard .
arcandor (author)  makilac215 years ago
The leg braces, as in step 8?

Do you have a power saw? If not, my method is probable too labor intensive to be practical.

We used a highly unscientific method, measure twice, cut the first time, measure again and then make the final cut (repeat as necessary. Since the legs were already attached to the table, we held the piece to-be-cut up to the legs and eyeballed it. It takes some finesse, but after a few you'll get the hang of it.

If you want to calculate it, it's also pretty easy to get a rough estimate. If the brace were there, it creates a triangle. Measure the sides of the triagle; the length of the board will be approximately equal to the hypotenusehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypotenuse , within the width of the board (cut it long!).

Good luck =)
Thanks for replying , we figured it out . Yes we have a power saw ,I couldn't imagine sawing 48 pieces manually that would've been hell lol I posted a picture of the final product thanks so much for posting the instructions .
I didn't make the whole table, as here in Sicily lumber is very expensive. I just made a 1.5ft bench for sitting. When I get back to the states I'll have to make another bench. Here lumber for the dimensions you had would cost me somewhere near 100 euro ($125 +/-). I also don't have all the fancy tools you have (yet!) so I had to improvise on a few things. Like the leg braces. I didn't have the lumber to make them so I used a crude method. But all in all it's not bad for my first attempt at something like this. Also, how would you recommend leveling out the legs if they aren't quite level? My bench is fairly stable, but it does wobbles if you move just right.
arcandor (author)  The Dark Ninja5 years ago
I'd look into shimming the legs, as opposed to re-cutting. Maybe you can add some pieces of rubber, like old bike tires, and tack them to the bottom of the legs?
jdege5 years ago
I'm not clear on how you're doing the cross-bracing on the benches.
arcandor (author)  jdege5 years ago
Posted two new pics for clarity. Let me know if you have any additional questions =)
lemonie5 years ago
Looks very tidy, and sturdy. Are you going to treat the timber in any way, it looks untreated? L
arcandor (author)  lemonie5 years ago
It is almost fully stained with a light cedar colored stain - I need to run to the store to get a little more, I did two coats on the top. That will be followed by a clear polyurethane coat as well.