Summer's here, so isn't it time you built yourself a superior picnic table, and asked your friends round for a barbeque?
The next two steps will offer you the chance to watch my build on YouTube, and to pick up FREE plans for the bench. After that, it's down to the instructions.
Step 1: Watch the Video Series
Watch the Introduction here, and if you wish to see the rest of the series, head over to:
Step 2: Get the FREE Plans
You can grab a FREE set of plans from the downloads section of my website:
( http://www.womadeod.co.uk/p/blog-page_9.html )
Step 3: Get Some Lumber
I made my picnic bench from green oak, and had it rough dimensioned at the saw mill.
The dimensions are pretty standard, so you could most likely buy seasoned, kiln-dried, hard or softwood, even pressure treated lumber, off the shelf, from your local supplier.
You could probably get the lumber cut to length there too.
You'll find all the dimensions in the FREE plans ( http://www.womadeod.co.uk/p/blog-page_9.html )
Step 4: Cut to Length
Cut all the components to length.
Lay them all out, with chalk or a lumber crayon, on the lumber first. Start with the largest components, and fit the smaller ones in last.
Try to avoid any knots close to the joint areas, and consider the figure of the wood to achieve a pleasing look when built. For example, I selected book matched boards for the bench tops.
Step 5: Cut the Mortises I
Lay out the mortise positions from the plans.
I cut the mortises with a collar guided router and a 1/2" straight bit. The template was made in 1/4" ply, using a jigsaw, and is simply a rectangle large enough so that the router bit would cut a 1" x 3" mortise. Centre lines make positioning it easy.
It was a long router bit, but not quite long enough...
Step 6: Cut the Mortises II
Using a 1/2" brad point drill bit, I drill right through in the corners of the mortises. This accurately transfers the mortise positions to the opposite side, and the outside of these holes can be connected with a pencil and ruler...
Step 7: Cut the Mortises III
Using a jigsaw, the holes are now connected, releasing the rest of the waste, and completing the through mortises
Step 8: Tip for Cutting the Shorter, Seat Mortises
The seat mortises are only 2". But instead of making a second template, just use a 1" packer piece in the one template.
Step 9: Forming the Feet
The feet are formed by cutting away some of the lower side of the bottom rails.
I removed most of the waste with the band saw, and then cleaned it up. First with a straight bit in the router, which cut most of the depth. And then with a bearing guided straight bit, from the opposite side.
Step 10: Cutting the Tenons
The tenon shoulders were cut using a cross cut sled on the table saw, but could easily be sawn by hand.
Then the cheek cuts were made using my tenoning jig on the table saw. Once again, you could cut this by hand.
Step 11: Fitting the Mortise and Tenon Joints I - Main Joints
I squared the corners of the router cut mortises, but I could equally have rounded over the tenon corners.
If you cut the full width mortises and tenons accurately, they should now be a sliding fit. Make any necessary adjustments with a chisel.
Step 12: Fitting the Mortise and Tenon Joints II - Seat Joint
The seat tenons need to be reduced to 2" in width, by cutting 1" from the 'outside' edge. This is easily done with a hand saw.
As you fit each joint, why not label it, as I have. This makes assembly so much easier. I carved Roman numerals on mine, but numbering them with chalk would do.
Step 13: Foot Rail I - Cutting to Length
First cut the foot rail to length. You can alter this dimension by several inches if it will help with placing the bench's feet in it's final resting place.
My home made cross cut guide rail made this a piece of cake with the circular saw.
Step 14: Foot Rail II - Starting the Lap Joint
The foot rail is joined to the main rails with a lap joint, which I began with multiple cuts, using the cross cut guide rail again.
The thin slices of waste are then removed. First by breaking much of them off with a hammer...
Step 15: Foot Rail III - Finishing the Lap Joint
And then by paring with a wide chisel.
The finished lap joint should end up looking like the photo, and is secured with a single screw through the centre.
Step 16: Bracing I - Mortises on the Foot Rail
Chop two shallow mortises, one each end of the foot rail. This is most easily and quickly done with with a chisel.
Step 17: Bracing II - Tenon and Birds Mouth
Cut a stub tenon on the angled end of the brace, to fit the shallow mortise in the foot rail.
The opposite end of the brace receives a birds mouth, to lock it into the table rail. This gets secured with a single screw into the rail.
Step 18: Chamfer the Ends
To protect the wood from break out, and prevent sharp knocks, all the components received chamfers to their ends.
In the green oak, the short grain chamfers were much quicker to produce with a wide chisel (as shown), but a block plane would be easier on seasoned timber.
Step 19: Chamfer the Edges and Relieve Corners
Long edges receive a chamfer to prevent splinters.
The corners of the table top and seats were relieved to aid movement around the bench. This was done by sawing the corner off at forty five degrees, and chamfering the new face.
Step 20: Attaching the Slats I - Drilling Bearer Holes
To avoid splitting as the green oak dried out, I fixed the slats on each bearer with a single screw from underneath.
Angling the screws helps to prevent them being pulled out, and to facilitate this I made a guide block. This was just a block of wood with an angled hole drilled through it, sized to align a hole through the bearer in a suitable place. The block is clamped to the bearer and the hole drilled through. This required an extra long drill bit, which was easy to source from the local tool store.
Step 21: Attaching the Slats II - a Kind of Pocket Hole
By using a counter boring bit, I drilled 'pockets' for the screws.
If you can't get hold of this type of bit, you can counter sink the hole and use longer screws.
Step 22: Finishing Off
With the slats all fitted, attach a central batten to tie them all together. Screws straight up from below are fine here.
I assembled the bench with my carved joint numbers pointing out, and added the date, just as an extra feature.
This green oak will turn a lovely silver grey after about a year, and needs no protective treatment at all.
Some timbers will need protection to survive outdoors, so check with your supplier and treat accordingly.
Step 23: Sit Down and Enjoy Your Creation
Thank you for looking at my instructable. Don't forget there are FREE plans available ( http://www.womadeod.co.uk/p/blog-page_9.html )
Please like, share, and comment if you found it interesting.
Happy times at your picnic bench,