Introduction: Cedar Kids' Picnic Table

About: Writer for Science Buddies ( and lecturer at Cornell University's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

This simple kids' picnic table is based on this Preschool Picnic Table design by Ana White. Her design uses a 1x6 and some 1x3's, but I had a handful of leftover cedar decking boards from building raised garden beds. I wanted to use those, so I modified the design slightly to get roughly the same overall dimensions as her plans. This was a quick build and it's the perfect size for our 4 year old daughter, but it will also work well for younger kids - so you should get years of use out of it before everyone outgrows it!


  • 5/4" x 6" x 8' cedar decking boards (5). Note that actual dimensions are 1"x5.5"
  • 1 5/8" stainless steel decking screws
  • Miter saw
  • Circular saw or table saw
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Optional: Kreg jig
  • Assorted clamps
  • Sandpaper

Step 1: Cut List

Cut the following quantity of each length:

  • 36" (8) - for the tabletop, benches, and bench supports
  • 22 1/4" (2) - tabletop supports
  • 24" (4) - legs
  • 30" (1) - cross supports


  • Miter the ends of the 4 legs at 30 degrees to form parallelograms
  • Miter the ends of two of the 36" pieces at 30 degrees to form trapezoids
  • Rip the 30" piece in half lengthwise to form the two cross supports

Step 2: Assemble the Top

Work on a clean, flat surface to assemble the top upsidedown. Space four of the 36" boards out next to each other with a small gap in between (roughly 1/8"-1/4" - I just eyeballed it - really I was just lazy, but let's say we're giving it a more "rustic" look...). Click the pictures for notes:

  • The outer edges of the boards should line up with the ends of the 22.25" supports.
  • Those supports should be symmetrically spaced with a 30" support connecting them.
  • First I drilled into the ends of the 30" cross support to form a capital "I" shape, then placed the "I" shape onto the tabletop boards and attached it with pocket screws (I did not want screws showing on the top of the table).

Step 3: Attach the Legs

Hold the legs in place with clamps. No measurements needed here - the top corners of the legs should line up with the gap in between the two center boards of the tabletop (see pictures). Screw the legs into the tabletop supports with 4 screws each. I'd recommend doing 2 screws first, flipping over to make sure the table doesn't wobble, adjusting if needed, then adding the final screws (may or may not have learned this the hard way).

Step 4: Attach Bench Supports

Clamp the bench supports to the legs and attach with screws. The bottom edge of the support should be 5.5" from the ground, and they should be centered. I found this step MUCH easier after I cut 5.5" long spacers from scrap 2x4. I used that to prop the supports up and them clamp in place - much easier than trying to hold everything in place while getting the distance correct. See pictures. Four screws to each leg.

Step 5: Attach Horizontal Support/footrest

Flip the table over and attach the other horizontal support between the two bench supports, with 2 screws in from each end. Long bar clamps can be useful here to squeeze it in place (you can never have too many clamps).

Optional: since little feet will probably be using this part as a footrest and/or kicking against it from the bottom, I used a router with a roundover bit to round off the edge from the rip cut. But a healthy dose of rough-grit sandpaper will probably be sufficient.

Step 6: Attach the Benches

Attach a bench to each side. The outer edge of the bench should line up with the top point of the bench support. I was too lazy for pocket screws here and don't think the screws look bad on the bench anyway, so I just did 2 screws into each support from the top.

Step 7: Don't Forget to Sand!

Here are a handful of glamour shots of the finished product from different angles. Don't forget to sand all the rough edges from the cuts, if you didn't do that before assembly. Don't want any splinters for all those little hands/feet!

Step 8: You Can Never Build Just One...

My daughter liked this table so much, and it proved so useful for eating outside with our (finally) nice weather, that I found myself lugging it to different places around our yard (on the raised deck, down to the patio by the kiddie pool...). So, I had enough wood...why not build a second one? Now we have one in each location, and (assuming COVID-19 quarantine ends eventually and life returns to normal) she'll have plenty of outdoor seating for her friends at our next BBQ.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! If you have a question or suggestion to improve my awful woodworking (please don't look closely at the "pocket screws"), please leave a comment!

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