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

diagram showing seat boards attached to the picnic table

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

Comments

crystal (not verified)

Tue, 04/27/2010 - 21:50

Ana, I seriously think you are a mind reader! I have been hopefully waiting for these plans & you made them happen girly! I love your blog. My hubby and I are really young parents just trying to make our new house a home and of course I have champagne taste on a cheap beer budget! but thanks to you I can actually decorate the way I want to and not have to resort to cheap big box furniture. Thank you, thank you, thank you! ;)

Okay (not verified)

Tue, 04/27/2010 - 22:23

I have finished toddler picnic table last weekend.
now it is hard for me to choose paint color.

Cheryl's Creat… (not verified)

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 02:51

Ana, thanks for your plans, I went to the store and purchased all the supplies with my son, then came home and we worked on this table as a family, I am so excited to paint it next, thanks so much your blog site is amazing and so inspiring, as a mom of 4 I am on a tight budget, but love style and new ideas....you make it happen...

Jenny (not verified)

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 02:58

I would have made one when my children where little if the mini picnic tables had been around. I never saw them in wood, just classic plastic.

I love all the colors.

Liana (not verified)

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 03:18

I am so glad I found this site. And this might get old, but you really are an inspiration! My husband (who can't hang a picture) is not convinced yet that this is a worthy endeavor but I aim to prove him wrong.

Just got wood yesterday for the bigger kids picnic table. I bought nails that you would use for a composite deck cause I'm scared of rust. Were these the right choice?

Also, I'm such a beginner, I would love to see more tutorials like how to use a "square" and simple things like that or did I miss this somewhere? I bought the jigsaw/ sander too so I'm hoping I can use those for angle cuts??!!

After seeing so many other people's work, the chant in my head says, "I can do it" but I'm soooo scared. Guess just gotta jump in!!

Valerie (not verified)

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 03:27

I think I know what we are doing this weekend! Ok, well first we need to mow the lawn.. but THEN we are going to build this table. This is just what I have been hoping for. Thanks Ana! You just continue to amaze me. *high five*

Jenelle (not verified)

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 06:05

Is everyone using oil based paint to paint these? My husband and I are having a disagreement on how to paint ours :)

Jen (not verified)

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 06:57

Thanks Ana! With spring here in Alaska we are all looking forward to picnics. I made the toddler one last weekend and it went so well I was thinking a full size one Then ta dah here it is! Thanks:)

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!