Picnic Table Plans

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 05/21/2019 - 14:00
Difficulty
Beginner
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The classic picnic table made easy to build!

We love picnic tables - they are inexpensive and sturdy and SO versatile.  In this free project plan, we simplify the building process.  You'll just need some standard off the shelf lumber and screws to build!

We also have created a kids picnic table plan, toddler picnic table plan and an octagon picnic table plan.

picnic table painted red

Picnic Table Modifications

It's easy to modify this picnic table to different dimensions.  I do recommend working with your materials to minimize waste - for example, if you want a 5 foot long picnic table, simply purchase 10 foot long 2x6s (for the seat and top) and cut in half.

You will need some center support if your 2x6 seat and tabletop boards span more than about 4 feet with no support underneath - so maybe keep that in mind before building a 12 foot long table.

 

Picnic Table Building Materials

I recommend building this table out of cedar or other outdoor appropriate materials that are popular in your local area for building decks. If you do use common lumber, I recommend painting or staining.

I do not recommend using treated lumber for the tabletop or seats (as these areas come in contact with food).  A good compromise is to use treated lumber for the legs and supports, and untreated for the tabletop and seats.  

 

Finishing Your Picnic Table

The picnic table should be painted or stained how you would paint or stain your deck - with consideration for food contact.  If you are building with cedar, no finish is required, but the table will turn grey from the sun.

If you are using paint or a "film forming" finish like polyurethane that sits on top of the wood, make sure you seal every side of each board.  If water penetrates the wood, it will cause the wood to swell, make the wood bigger, and causing the paint or polyurethane to crack and peel.  The best way to seal every edge of every board is to prefinish before assembly.

My favorite option is to use an exterior penetrating stain to finish, as it soaks into the wood (instead of sitting on top of the wood like paint).  This is more forgiving, but will need to be re applied every 3-5 years, depending on the brand and your local elements.

If you'd like more information on finishing outdoor furniture, I share all my secrets here.

 

Dimensions
diagram showing the dimensions of picnic table
Overall Dimensions are shown above

Preparation

Shopping List

9 – 2×6 Stud Length OR 4 – 2×6 12′ Long and 1 – 2×6 Stud Length (8′ Length works if it is cheaper)

5 – 2×4 Boards, 8′ or Stud Length

2 1/2″ self tapping deck screws

OPTIONAL: You can bolt the leg sets together with 3-1/2" bolts with nuts and washers.  Make sure all fasteners are exterior appropriate.

Common Materials
2 1/2 inch screws
3 inch screws
120 grit sandpaper
primer
wood conditioner
paint
paint brush
Cut List

9 – 2×6 @ 60″ (Tabletop boards and Seat Boards)

3 – 2×4 @ 29 1/2″ (Tabletop Supports)

4 – 2×4 @ 33″ (Ends mitered at 30 degrees parallel)

2 – 2×4 @ 52 1/2″ (Seat Supports)

2 – 2×4 @ 28 1/2″ (Cross Supports, ends mitered at 25 degrees parallel)

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Hammer
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Drill
Circular Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Work on a clean level surface. Check for square after each step. Get some help on this project, it will be difficult to work alone. Recommended to paint and stain your boards before building to ensure all edges are sealed, then touch up paint after finishing. Use necessary safety precautions and equipment. Predrill and countersink you screws or drill holes for bolts and tighten with a washer and nut. Remember, you can click photos for a larger view.

Instructions

Step 1

Tabletop

Measure 2″ and 29 1/4″ from the outsides of all the tabletop boards and make a mark.

Cut your supports board ends at a 45 degree angle on the ends as shown above.

Then attach the tabletop boards to the supports through the tops using 2 1/2″ screws and glue.

Start on the outsides and work inward, keeping an even 1/2″ gap between the boards.

Use the marks you made to guide you in placing the support boards in line with the tabletop boards.

 

NOTE: Pocket hole users can attach from underneath with pocket holes to hide all screw holes.

Step 2

Legs

Start by cutting your legs at 30 degree angles on both ends, so the ends are parallel.

Then, line up the legs with the inner edge of the boards between the middle and outside boards. Use 2 1/2″ screws and glue to fasten to the inside of the table support as shown above.

Step 3

Seat Supports

Take your square and measure at a 90 degree angle from the underside of the table up 12″ and make a mark on the legs.

Cut your seat supports at 45 degree angles on the ends.

Then from the long point, measure 11 1/2″ in from the outer point and make a mark. Line this mark up with the edge of the legs, keeping the top of the seat support (shown as the bottom because the table is upside down) level with the marks made on the legs. Fasten with 2 1/2″ screws and glue.

Step 4

Cross Supports

First, take a square of the table by measuring from the outer points of the legs to the diagonal opposite leg. Do this for both diagonals. Push the opposite legs together on the longer diagonal until your diagonals match up in distance.

Then cut your cross supports at 25 degrees off square on both ends, ends are parallel. Fasten in place using 2 1/2″ screws and glue, centered on the supports as shown above. For one of the cross supports, you will need to screw at an angle from the side of the cross support in the tabletop support.

Step 5

Attach the seat boards to the picnic table with screws to complete.

Comments

Becca (not verified)

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 07:17

Sweet!!! I planned on making the kid size, then you came out with the big kid size, and I thought, OHHH, let's build that one. But now, I am going with the full size that way the whole family can fit for a picnic!!! You are so wonderful!

Katie Seamons (not verified)

Fri, 04/30/2010 - 14:18

We found a saw at a garage sale this morning...is it impossible to make these things without a nail gun. Just to use finishing nails and a hammer? I am really excited to do these projects but can't stomach buying more tools on a students budget...

Carmen (not verified)

Sat, 05/01/2010 - 01:45

I stumbled on this blog a few weeks ago and decided to build this as my first DIY project since my child surely would not criticize something so super cool? She loved it!! It was so easy (after I figured out how to use the saw that is). Anyway, I am raising money for my 2 day walk for breast cancer in late October and have decided to make some of these to sell for my team to raise funds...I mean who would not LOVE a pink picnic table for a cause? Thanks so much for making these available...making a bed next since my 4 year old saw the farmhouse bad and " can not live without it."

Bri (not verified)

Sat, 05/08/2010 - 04:09

Katie...yo woldn't need a nail gn for this one...jst a drill and drill bits.
I built the bigger kids table and my kids were sitting at it during my garage sale and people liked it and now I have 5 orders for people who want to by one! PAINT BEFORE YOU BUILD!! and we used Killz brand high gloss exterior paint Jenelle

Wendy (not verified)

Sat, 05/08/2010 - 10:40

I'm thrilled to find these plans for an adult-size table. Because we don't have a deck and our table will be on the grass, I prefer a traditional picnic table rather than a table and chairs. I was appalled to find that our home-improvement store did not carry plans for such a basic project. Pre-made ones I found were priced in the hundreds for what I estimate is about $50 worth of materials. This will be my first summer building project.

Sara (not verified)

Thu, 05/20/2010 - 17:47

I just finished the full-size picnic table today, and I absolutely love it. It looks so natural in our mountain setting. I blogged about the process here on my blog, The Handy Hausfrau.

A quick tip: measure and draw the 30 degree angles on the legs and the 25 degree angles on the center supports before you cut the boards. If you cut the pieces to 33" and 28.5" respectivly before you mark the angles, you won't have enough board to make two parallel cuts.

Thanks for the plans, Ana, and keep up the great work. I can't wait to build another one of your projects.

jimssolidwoodp… (not verified)

Fri, 09/03/2010 - 05:41

Excellent, l want to make 2 of the adult table for back yard and 1 tiny one as a hint for my kids to give me some grand children lol.
And l want to make onee for my son's wife's nephew made him a 2 x4 ft book sheelf at his tiny height 12 months old then, so if l make him a little table aam sure he will like it, since l have no grandkids to spoil l will build this little guy kiddie furniture lol.

Your great Ana

Jim

Emily (not verified)

Sat, 09/11/2010 - 12:36

Ana,

Thanks so much for these plans! My hubby and I just moved into a new home and the owner of the house had a picnic table and when we asked about it he said he was going to keep it. We didn't let that stop us! I had been "lurking" on your site for a while and had bookmarked many of the plans you have, so I printed out these and my hubby built us a great plum table. Oh, and we used Sara's tip re: measuring the angles before cutting. We've gotten lots of compliments and some even asked if he built this from a kit because it was so sturdy and great!

After finishing ours, he built a toddler one in pink and purple for our friend's daughter. Her table was supposed to go outside, but the little one loved it so much she asked to keep it inside because she didn't want it to get dirty.

Next up, the storage daybed, shelves and, my absolute fave, the farmhouse table from Restoration Hardware! Thanks again for all these great plans!

Emily

sara (not verified)

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 12:18

I want to extend this tables length by about two feet. Has anyone done this? Will I need to add extra support (third leg in the middle)?

Thanks!

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