Convertible picnic table

Submitted by ClemTanya on Tue, 06/18/2013 - 19:43

I built this table with the dimensions described in the original plans, but made a slight modification by using my Kreg Jig to add pocket holes for attaching the tabletop and seat boards from below rather than drilling down through the top. I'm never really happy with the way a finish comes out after using wood filler, plus not having to fill holes saves a step in the finishing process (which is the really arduous part of the job for me). I also like the sturdiness of the Kreg joints.
This was my first project using the Kreg Jig in an application that didn't have the location for the pocket holes specified, so for the first bench I followed right along with the plans and just detached the drill guide and clamped it to my project to drill the pocket holes as I went along. For the second bench I was familiar with where all the holes should be drilled, so I was able to quickly mark off the location and pre-drill all the pieces assembly line fashion. The second one practically flew together.
If you want to use this method, you will be drilling your pocket holes in the boards labeled "seat support" and "tabletop support" (there are 2 of each of these pieces for each bench/half table). You can mark the position of the tabletop boards on the tabletop supports and drill your pair of pocket holes to correspond roughly to the center of where each board will be (so 6 holes in each of the 2 pieces labeled tabletop support for each bench). Nearly the same process for the seat supports, but remember that the holes to attach the outermost seat board won't be centered because of the location of the front leg. I chose to add a couple of pocket holes through the front leg board as well for extra sturdiness in case it gets picked up by that outermost seat board when the bench/table is getting moved. I have included a picture of the pre-drilled pocket holes to help clarify the above directions.
The build itself can definitely be classified as a beginner project and easily manageable by one lady (although it would be really nice to have a buddy to help move the finished bench...I had to take the tabletop back off mine to move it from my "workshop" (carport) around to my patio). In terms of time, the build for both benches could easily be completed in an afternoon; I ranked it as a weekend project because of the finish. The tabletop and seat boards each have 4 coats of an exterior semigloss paint and I custom blended the colors so that each board gets progressively darker as you go down the bench. I was inspired by the ocean, with the water getting darker as you go deeper and deeper. As you can see from my photos, I rushed headlong into the first bench and put it together unfinished (I was more concerned about figuring out the placement of the pocket holes than the finish.) For the second one I pre-drilled my pocket holes, then put on 2 coats of base coat and 1 coat of color (on seat and tabletop boards) before assembly, saving only the finish coat on the colored boards and touchups on the white boards for after assembly. I definitely recommend the second method.
I worked on the project over a couple of weekends and evenings because of weather and time constraints, but under the right conditions it could be completed in a weekend or even maybe a long day (especially with a second painter and in good paint drying weather). I'm really happy with the final product and I've already been enjoying the comfy bench seat for reading.

Estimated Cost
$100 (including finish)
Estimated Time Investment
Weekend Project (10-20 Hours)
Type of Wood
builder grade "whitewood"
Finish Used
Exterior semigloss paint: 2 coats of self priming base coat (Valspar Duramax) and an additional 2 coats of color that I custom mixed into 6 shades on the bench seats and tabletops. The darkest shade on the outermost seat board is called Monterrey Bay Teal from Valspar. I mixed the five additional colors with white in 15% by volume increments. (If you want to get really, really specific, I started with a quart of the teal and made 100 grams of each of the 5 blended colors and this was almost the perfect amount to put 2 thick coats of color on all sides of each of the seat/tabletop boards.)
Recommended Skill Level