Introduction: Flat Pack for Storage Plywood Picnic Table

About: I live in the UK, and own a small business designing and building: Cargo Carrying Bicycles, Bike Trailers, Pedal Powered Utility Trucks & Vans, Pedal Racing Cars and Human Powered Vehicles, lightweight Pony Ca…

These picnic tables are each made from a single sheet of plywood, take about 30 minutes to mark out, and about 1 hour to cut out. The sanding and painting is down to the individual, so I'll not quote any times for these two processes, but I have finished mine with a combination of wood preserver on the undersides and gloss paint on the topsides .

A short video of me assembling and disassembling one of my picnic tables:

You will need a copy of the plans, which you can download and save from here:

To mark out the plywood, you'll need: a rule or tape measure, a pencil, a square, and a straight edge of about 4 feet long, or slightly longer; a planed 4 X 1 piece of timber just over 4 feet long, or a length of steel are ideal.

I have used a cordless jigsaw for the rounded cuts, and cordless circular saw for the long straight cuts, but a jigsaw will be more than adequate for all the cutting requirements.

Pay close attention to the plans, as they follow both a Centre Line set of dimensions, and Accumulated dimensions from the bottom edge of the sheet of plywood. The only really tricky part of the plans and the dimensioning is ensuring that you follow the accumulated dimensions correctly and mark out accurately.

Note: I have used 18 mm thick shuttering plywood rather than the recommended 1" thick plywood: so if you follow my lead here, you'll need to reduce the joint let ins from 1" to 18 mm.

Step 1:

As previously mentioned, I used a cordless circular saw for the long straight cuts, and a cordless Jigsaw for the detailing cuts.

You will obtain a good quality of cut if you use a jigsaw blade that cuts on both the up stroke and the down stroke.

Step 2: The Cutting Order.

Start by cutting in this order; if you begin with the long straight cuts, it will reduce the sections of plywood to a more manageable size:

1) Cut out the table top.

2) Cut out  the seat supports

3) Cut out the seat tops

Step 3: Cutting the Detailling

I found that it was a lot easier to start the detail cutting at this stage, as the table top, seat supports and seat tops were now separated from the main sheet.

When these are done you can begin cutting all the curved detailing  for the table ends and centre support on the remainder of the sheet; it is easier to do this now before you cut these components from the sheet. 

Step 4:

Then cut the main central support from the sheet, followed by the table ends.

Step 5: This Step Is Optional:

Cutting out additional hand grip points is optional; only 2 of my 6 picnic tables have these additional hand grips in the table ends.

In my opinion they are not necessary near the top of the table end, but would be better placed lower down the panel.

I have used a 2 inch diameter holesaw and a jigsaw to cut out the hand grips.

Step 6: Time to Cut Out the Slip Joints

Now it is time to cut out the assembly slip joints. As previously mentioned I have used a sheet of 18 mm thick plywood to make my picnic tables, so I have to cut the joints to suit.

Step 7:

I have not shown the carrying bracket that is on the original plans; I found this awkward and cumbersome to use, so I now use a couple of webbing straps with a clam action clasp to keep the table components together when they are being handled and stored.

Here is a link to the additional instructable on how to make the additional feet for the picnic tables shown in the photo:

I painted two of my six  tables bright yellow to use at the many shows and festivals that we attend, but that was a mistake as it attracts many flying insects. We now have them painted a more subdued  gloss Yellow (Ral 1028) which does not attract the insects. The Cargo Cycles logo and contact details have been applied to the table top, which has turned out to be a rather good way of making the public aware of my business .All six flat pack plywood picnic tables and two 25 X 10 marquees fit into the back of one of our electric assist Pedi-vans with room to spare .... a great way to haul stuff around the on the show grounds and festival sites.