Introduction: Poolside/Fireside Cedar End Table

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

This project is a follow-up to my cedar kids' picnic table. I wanted something lighter and more portable that we could easily move around the yard to hold drinks, snacks, sunscreen, s'mores, etc. I still had a few leftover decking boards after building the picnic tables, so decided to build a small end table. The embed video feature isn't working for some reason, so here's the build video.


  • (2) 5/4"x6"x8' cedar decking boards (actual dimensions 1"x5.5")
  • 3", 2.5", and 1-5/8" decking screws
  • Drill
  • Circular saw or table saw
  • Clamps
  • Sandpaper
  • Optional: router with roundover bit

Step 1: Cut List

It took me 30 minutes to do a trigonometry problem that probably would have taken me 30 seconds in high school, but I wanted to get the legs right. So here you go! Cut list (see images and attached PDF):

  • (3) 16.5" full-width boards for the top

Everything else is half-width:

  • (2) 16" boards, mitered to 15 deg on the ends to form trapezoids for the tabletop supports
  • (4) 28-1/8" boards, mitered to 30 deg on the ends to form parallelograms for the legs
  • (1) 10-1/8" piece for the cross support
  • (2) 4" pieces mitered at 30 deg to form parallelograms as spacers (you don't need these if you're doing lap joints, we'll get to that later)

Optional: use a router with a roundover bit to round the sharp edges on the rip-cut boards.

Step 2: Assemble the Top

Like with the picnic table, I didn't want screws to be visible from the top of the table. I was too lazy to do pocket screws, so I just used 3" screws to drill into the top boards from underneath through the supports. Best way to do it? Probably not. Easy? Yes.

  • Line up the 3 top pieces so their edges are flush.
  • Clamp them together.
  • Line up the supports so they're flush with the edges of the top boards.
  • Press down firmly while pre-drilling holes.
  • Insert screws.

Step 3: Lap Joints...or Not

I tried to make lap joints for the legs. I failed. Miserably. To quote my wife when I asked for her honest opinion, "it looks terrible." If you know what you're doing, and you want your legs to form an "X" with a lap joint in the middle - go for it. If not, never fear! Go to the next step for a more rookie-friendly option.

Step 4: Attach Legs

Let's try that again. Forget the lap joints. I'm just going to clamp on the legs in an "X" shape. This requires a spacer block as shown in the pictures.

  • Clamp everything in place.
  • Check to make sure the feet are level so the table won't wobble (ideally). Adjust if needed, then re-tighten clamps.
  • Screw the legs to the tabletop supports. Use 1-5/8" screws for the legs without a spacer and 2.5" screws for the legs with a spacer. That way the screws won't poke through the outside. Do not screw the legs to each other yet.

Step 5: Attach Cross Support

Clamp the cross support in place, joining the centers of the two X's. Drill in two 3" screws on each side, through both of the legs and into the cross support (this is why you didn't screw the legs together in the previous step).

Step 6: Sand and You're Done!

Remember to sand the rough edges if you haven't already, and you're done! As you can see from the photos, this table is already serving its purpose on its first day of use. It's light enough that it's easy to lift with one hand - so easy to transport between the chairs, next to the pool, and the fire pit. Especially with the random assortment of objects you tend to accumulate with small children, this is super convenient and sure beats putting stuff on the ground!

Thanks for reading if you've made it that far. As always, if you have a question or suggestion, please leave a comment.

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