Would you like a sturdy side table and a shade umbrella to assist your summer lounging? Perhaps a place to relax out of the hot sun and sip a cold drink?
We made a variation of the $40 Backyard Chair by gkrisanda out of recycled materials and loved it. But to truly be able to relax in style it soon became obvious that the next addition we would need some shade and place to place our drinks.
So why not combine the two? We came up with a side table perfectly sized for a magazine and lemonade which is also sturdy enough to hold a shade umbrella. The wide stance of the legs and heavy weight make it sturdy enough to withstand gusts of wind and the height is perfectly reachable from our deck chair.
Step 1: Tools
Compound Miter Saw
Drill with various bits for pre-drilling holes and attaching screws*
Tape Measure and Pencil
* You will need to drill a hole for your patio umbrella that is slightly larger than its handle for easy installation and removal and this may require a hole saw or larger sized bit depending on your umbrella.
Step 2: Materials
We really appreciate using recycled materials and since this table uses such short pieces of wood it might be possible to make it out of scrap. Composite Lumber and pressure treated wood scraps can often be found left over from deck building like this load of lumber we recently saw in a dumpster.
But if you would like to purchase new wood here is what you will be needing
2 ea 8'-2x4's either Cedar or Pressure Treated exterior grade wood
1 ea 8'- 2x6 either Cedar, Pressure Treated or Composite* exterior grade wood
32 ea 2 1/2" Exterior Grade Screws
* Composite Lumber is not only exterior grade but tends to be rather heavy which makes it extra sturdy for holding an umbrella.
Step 3: Cutting the Top Lumber
Cut your decking lumber into 3ea 18" lengths
You will be creating 'notched' wood which will give your table top a nice clean look. Since composite lumber tends to vary on depth depending on the brand, measure the depth of your composite and rip a cut down one of your 2x4's the same depth of your composite (or other decking material) using your table saw (in our case this was about 1") and 1/2" into your wood. Then do a second rip cut to remove the excess wood and create your notch.
Cut your notched wood on a miter saw from the top down at opposing 45 degree angles. I will give you the measurements I used, but keep in mind that subtle variations in the wood will make for slight changes in measurements so you may want to lay these out in place and tweak your own measurements slightly.
I cut two pieces at 19" and two at 16 - 7/8". We wanted these to fit tightly, but you may want to add a little to give yourself some wiggle room and perhaps better drainage.
Step 4: Assembling Top Lumber
We assembled our 4 notched pieces of lumber with our top decking in place and secured the the four corners using wood glue and one pre drilled exterior grade screw. We then pre drilled the top decking and attached that to the notched lumber also using exterior grade screws.
We however are not always the most thoughtful when it comes to details. Since these are the only pieces of hardware that are showing you could instead use decking clips on the top section and something more discreet like finishing nails or brads to attach your corners. This would give it a more modern and clean look.
Step 5: The Legs
Cut 4 legs out of your 2x4 cedar at complementary 45 degree angles and 18" length using your compound miter saw.
Step 6: Assemble
Flip your table top upside down and fit your legs in a cross pattern snug inside the underneath of the table against the decking and resting against the notched lumber. These should almost stand by themselves at this point. We attached ours using two screws each from the inside (so as to not be seen) and then an additional two screws where the cross braces meet, always remembering to pre drill our holes.
We then cut one additional horizontal cross brace out of 2x4 lumber to go between where the legs cross making this very sturdy. Our cross brace was 10 1/4" long but this can vary a little depending on the thickness of your lumber so you are going to want to measure between your legs to make sure. This was toe-nailed in from the bottom.
This may seem like excessive bracing, but this will also have a 1 1/2" hole to through it in the next step which will help hold the shade umbrella steady.
Step 7: The Hole
You could stop at this point and you would just have a very sturdy side table perfect height for your outdoor chair. However if you need a little extra shade like we did it is easy to add a hole for your umbrella.
We measured the the center of the table and drilled a 1 1/2" hole (slightly larger than our umbrella base) then drilled a second hole directly underneath the first hole through the cross brace. Making sure that we held our drill steady and that the second hole lined up directly underneath the first hole.
Step 8: Finishing With Stain or Paint
Obviously this stage is optional and not for everyone. I've been told that there is a special level of hell reserved for those who paint raw wood. However we tend to use recycled wood and the age, quality and variations in the wood usually demand this extra step in order to unify the piece and not make it look like a jumble of mismatched garbage. We love a bright variety of colors and I know that this is not everyone's choice.
We source our paints and stains from a variety of sources. Check for mismatched paint at your hardware store which can often be found very cheaply. You can sometimes mix a few of these together to come up with a new color or they may be willing to add some tint for free. Recycle Centers will often have paint and there are a few companies that specialize in recycling paint. Surely you have some extra exterior grade paint lying around in your garage somewhere waiting to be loved?
We sprayed ours with two coats of exterior grade acrylic after a careful all over sanding. Our composite holds paint well but this probably varies by brand so you will want to test some and make sure before you paint.
Step 9: Enjoy
We hope you enjoyed our tutorial and consider making your own side table umbrella stand. We actually get some fairly gusty winds off of our lake but they have yet to overturn this sturdy little table. Using durable exterior grade materials assures that we will get years relaxation on our floating dock. We may post details on our exterior chair variation and even a foot stool in the near future so stay tuned.