Picnic Table that Converts to Benches

Submitted by Ana White on Sun, 05/01/2011 - 20:10
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Free, easy, step by step plans to build a picnic table that converts easily to two separate benches. The tabletops rotate to form bench backs. Detailed plans give you step by step instruction to build this multi-use outdoor staple for your deck or patio.

So we built a picnic table. I know, it's a tad different looking than the other picnic tables that I build  For one, it's not bubble gum pink . . . yet.  And for two, what's up with those legs?
Well, you see, we actually built two halves of a picnic table.  How many of you sit backwards on your picnic tables most of the time?  We thought that these half picnic tables would be great around a campfire, with lots of room for marshmallows and chocolate right there within reach, but out of the way of the fire.
The mosquito thinks this is a good idea too.  
And of course if you so wish, you can pull a bolt out
It's supposed to do that.
Yep supposed to do that too.
But you already knew that  :)
For those of you needing sturdy benches most of the time, and a picnic table some of the time, this convertible picnic table bench plan is so simple to build.  We spent $54 on lumber and hardware for both benches.  
If you love, please pin and build!
Dimensions shown above


Shopping List

7 - 2x6 @ 8 feet long 4 - 2x4 @ 8 feet long 2 1/2" galvanized exterior screws 8 - 4" long, 1/2 diameter bolts with washers and nuts

Common Materials
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List


4 - 2x4 @ 28 7/8" (Back Legs - Both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, parallel to each other, long point to short point measurement)
4 - 2x4 @ 27" (Seat Support - Short point to short point measurement - both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, NOT parallel to each other)
4 - 2x4 @ 16 3/4" (Front Legs - Both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, parallel to each other, long point to short point measurement)
12 - 2x6 @ 47 7/8" (Seat and Tabletop boards)
4 - 2x6 @ 17" long (Tabletop Supports)
Cutting Instructions

Carefully cut all of your boards with a compound miter saw, or mark angles with a protractor and carefully cut with a circular saw.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Miter Saw
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Additional dimensions shown above. We found that this table/bench was most comfortable as a bench. If you are expecting to use the convertible picnic table bench mostly as a picnic table, I suggest you first review our free as always picnic table plans. The wide seat when converted to a picnic table makes for climbing into the seat a tad more difficult than traditional picnic tables - but let me tell you, the wide seat as a bench is quite nice.

Another note, I choose to make the benches/convertible picnic table four feet long to conserve lumber.  Most adult sized picnic tables are six feet long.  You can make the benches/convertible picnic table longer, but depending on your use, you may wish to add supports.  See the final step for more on this.

Step 2

First things first. From your back legs, drill 1/2" diameter holes as shown above, centered on the top. Drill on all four legs.

Step 3

Lay the front leg over the bottom of the back leg, with bottom and outside edges flush. Trace the top edge - this will be the line that you will line your seat support top up with. Lay the seat support on top of the legs as shown above and predrill holes and attach the seat support to the legs with 2 1/2" galvanized screws and wood glue. You will need to make four of these. Make two with the seat support on the right and two with the seat support on the left - it does matter.

Step 4

Mark all of the seat boards 2" from the ends. The seat boards overhang the legs by 2" on the outsides. Attach the seat boards to the legs, using 2 1/2" galvanized screws and wood glue. Adjust for square. Leave 1/4" gaps between the seat boards. Use one left and one right leg for each bench as shown above in the diagram.

Step 5

Step 6

Now that you have constructed the top, line the holes in the back legs up with the holes in the tabletop supports. Thread your 4" bolts through, add washer and nuts, and tighten. Lay a level on top of the table, perpendicular to the tabletop boards. With the tabletop level (use a clamp to hold in place) drill holes through the back legs and the tabletop supports and insert a pin (you can just use another 1/2" bolt). Do this on both sides.

Step 7

Remove the pins and rotate the tabletop so it becomes a backrest. Sit in the bench, and determine a comfy backrest position. When satisfied, clamp the tabletop supports to the back legs and drill another 1/2" diameter whole. Insert the pin. Do the same on both sides. To convert the benches to picnic tables, simply remove the pins and rotate the backrest to a tabletop, and reinsert the pins in the correct holes.

Step 8

For those of you wishing for a longer convertible picnic table bench, above shows how you would use standard eight feet long boards for the tabletops, and simply add an extra leg in the center. You will also need to add a back brace as shown above.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Help Improve This Plan

We apologize if there was an error in this plan. Please help us out and report any errors here.



Sat, 06/07/2014 - 16:56

These worked great as benches but not so good as picnic tables. There was just not enough room to get your feet in. We removed the screws of the third 2x4 and then used a simple bolt as a pin from the side so that they can be removed for the picnic tables but replaced for the bench.


Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:02

Any guess as to overall weight for one unit (half-table)?

Any input as to using 1x lumber instead of 2x - for the purpose of weight reduction and mobility for use as a stage prop?




Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:48

I am working in this project. How do I make the 10 degrees angle cuts? I am new on this.

In reply to by Paco43

Lady Goats

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 19:28

Hi Paco, a 10 degree cut is made on either a miter saw, table saw or with a miter box. Those are easy to set to 10 degrees..

To be honest, I was able to do my first project with a jig saw and a protractor that I printed from online. If you don't have any of the bigger saws available, I'd suggest getting or printing a protractor, marking 10-degrees and cutting slowly along the line. Hope this helps!


Thu, 06/18/2015 - 21:10

I just finished today. I had to re-cut the back legs because when I tried to attach the tabletop/backrest, there wasn't enough room for it to swing down - it would hit the bench. I double & triple checked my measurements & everything was right. I had to go buy some extra 2x4s to finish.

I also noticed 2 discrepancies between the cut list & the directions. In the cut list, it says to make the back legs long to short, but in the plans it shows it long to square - you need to square the top or the tabletop won't swivel down, it will hit the point. The other discrepancy is the tabletop/backrest supports - the cut list doesn't mention cutting an angle on them, but the directions show an angle. Those ones didn't cause me too much hassle.


Tue, 03/01/2016 - 05:07

I had seen this or another similar plan a few years back and had planned on making it for several of my family members. I never got the "plans" and lost the link to it...WOW!!! Now my year is gonna get busy!!! I'm planning on making 4 sets of these at VERY least! THANKS SOOOO MUCH!!!!


Tue, 09/06/2016 - 10:34

Hello, I am retired and just getting into working on wood projects. Found this site and has some great plans.
I am going to buy a miter saw to work on this picnic table, but I don't understand the cuts.  I looked up how to do a 10 degree cut with a speed square but I am not sure of how to measure. It says length is 28 7/8"  from long to short.  Do I cut the board to that length and then cut off 10 degrees.  It is the wording of "from long to short or short to long that has me confused.  Remember I am a novice at this. Thanks.


Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:08

Hi - is the top of the bench/table supposed to be able to be adjusted by hand by unscrewing the bolts and moving it to the other position? Or is a socket wrench always required? I'm not familiar working with bolts so wanted to confirm.