Vanessa's X Picnic Table

Difficulty
Beginner
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About Project

Inspired by Vanessa's amazing X table, this plan enables just about anyone to build an indoor or outdoor x table for the dining space. These free do it yourself plans to build a modern style x picnic table feature step by step diagrams, suitable for beginner woodworkers.


Before I start today's plan, I just want to thank you for reading Knock-Off Wood, for supporting me, and for believing in me enough to go get the flat bed cart and buy some lumber and give my projects a try.  All of my plans come from a place of experience and caring, and I only publish plans I myself would build (and I've built a lot of furniture).  Many of you have been asking for the Parson's Chair, and I have the plans drawn up, the post written.  But I can't push publish quite yet.  Because I still feel there is a better way, a way of making the build easier, the upholstery cheaper, the sewing more straightforward.  And you know about the Parson's Chair.  I won't tell you about the dozens of plans that sit on my computer, waiting to be blogged . . . but I don't feel "good" about yet.  If you have asked for a plan and it seems like I'm not listening, it's not because I don't care - it is because I do care.

One of the greatest joys of blogging is getting feedback, seeing your photos, reading your facebook posts, seeing your smiling kid's faces sitting at colorful picnic tables.  But then, one of the saddest parts (and most challenging) is not being able to write back to everyone, to answer every email, to respond to every comment, and to remember everyone's requests.

When Heidi wrote me a letter (and I read all letters, I just may not have had time to write back - I'm so sorry if I couldn't write back to you  :(  ) titled "An Absolute Perfect Table You Could Easily Draw Up Patterns For -  Please LOOK!!!"  I had to grin at the "pattern" part.  Because that is what we do - we work from patterns.  Plans are exploded diagrams with sparse details and a thick troubleshooting guide.  Patterns are like recipes, step by step, one ingredient at a time.  Heidi said it best.

But I stopped grinning when I saw the picture:

image from This and That

You've probably stopped grinning too.

Unfinished, image from This and That, blogged here

I did, and I started typing. I sent the table owner, Vanessa at This and That, an email introducing myself and begging to hack her table.  And guess what she said?

"Hey Ana

No introduction needed I know who you are!  I love your site and have a list of "favorites" to make.  My cousin and I were actually talking about you last week, they had made one of your tables and were getting ready to make another.  And my friend and I have a to do goal of printing all your plans into a binder to have forever. Anyway of course you can use my photos.  My daddy made my table so it is extra special to me.  Let me know if you need any more info.  I can't wait to let him know you liked the table!

Vanessa"

As it turns out, Vanessa's father hand built this beautiful table and Vanessa finished it.  You can read the whole story here.  And now we are hacking it!  Brought to you by Heidi and her email, Vanessa and her table . . . here's an easy to build indoor and outdoor friendly X table:

Dimensions
Standard table height. Dimensions shown above.

Preparation

Shopping List

3 – 2×6, 12′ Length
1 – 2×6, 8′ or Stud Length
1 – 2×4, 8′ or stud length
1 – 2×2, 8′ Length
7 – 1×4, 8′ Length
Wood Glue
1 1/4″ Wood Screws
2″ Wood Screws
2 1/2″ Wood Screws
Finishing Supplies (Wood Filler, Paint, Stain, Sandpaper, Sealer)

Cut List

Work on a clean level surface using straight boards. Be safe, wear hearing, eye and any other safety equipment that is necessary. Predrill and countersink all of your screw holes. Always use glue. Check for square after each step. Remember, you can click the photos for a larger view.
When you are making parallel cuts (for example, the legs) at an angle simply set your miter saw to a 45 degree angle. Then make the first cut as close to the end as possible. Measure from the edge, long point to short point and make a mark. Cut. Then simply slide your board down to make remaining cuts. If you do not have a miter saw, I intentionally set all the angles at 45 degrees. So to cut a 45 degree angle on a 1×4 board, you can simply measure 3 1/2″ from the point and make a mark. Then draw a line from the point to the mark – this is shown in the below diagram. You can do this with other width boards when cutting a 45 degree angle, just use the width of the board as a guide.

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Drill
Miter Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

2 – 2×4 @ 38 1/2″ (Ends mitered back at 45 degrees as shown in step 1)
5 – 1×4 @ 30″ (Supports)
7 – 2×6 @ 71 3/4″ (Tabletop Boards)
2 – 1×4 @ 61 3/4″ (Side Aprons)
4 – 1×4 @ 40 1/4″ (Ends cut at 45 degrees, parallel)
8 – 1×4 @ 20 1/8″ (ONE end mitered down 45 degrees off square, measure to fit on legs)
1 – 2×2 @ 64 3/4″ (Stretcher)

Instructions

Step 1

Apron Ends
Cut your apron ends as shown above. The angles on the ends are 45 degrees. You will need to cut 2 of these.

Step 2

Table Frame
Start by marking your table side aprons (the 1x4s 61 3/4″ long) every 10″ (this does not have to come out exact). Use these marks to guide you as you attach the supports, as shown above. Use 2″ screws and glue. Then screw the side aprons to the end aprons from step 1. Make sure you square your project at this step.

Step 3

Tabletop Boards
Use 2 1/2″ screws and glue to fasten your tabletop boards as shown above. Remember, if you want to use your table for outdoor purposes, you should leave a 1/4″ gap between the boards. You can use a flat carpenters pencil as a guide. This will increase your overhang on the ends by approximately 3/4″, if you choose to ad spacing between your boards.
One tip a reader suggested is examining the ends of your boards. Each board will have a “bark” side or a side that the grain bends away from. Alternate the bark side up and the bark side down as you lay your tabletop boards. That way if your boards do “move” as wood can do, the boards will expand in a complimentary fashion, minimizing any tabletop warping.

Step 4

image from About.com
If you are using the table outdoors, bark side down will avoid cupping, and create better water drainage. The above photo is an exaggeration, but even the slightest amount of crowning will keep water (the enemy) from pooling on top of your outdoor table.

Step 5

Step 6

Legs, Part 2
Finish the legs by attaching the remaining leg trim pieces using 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Hide your screw holes by attaching from the insides. Then using the 2 1/2″ screws, fasten the legs to the side aprons, centering the legs on the side apron.

Step 7

Stretcher
Your table is going to need something to keep the legs from spreading appart – think dragging the table from the end. The amount of leverage on those top screws would be quite strong. So to keep your table together you can do a cross braces from the center of the Xs to the underside of the table. But I choose to keep this super simple and do a 2×2 as a stretcher so that most any beginner could tackle this project. Simply use the 2 1/2″ screws to screw the stretcher to the legs, in the centers of the X. TIP – once one side is fastened, use a level to determine where the other side should be fastened.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
If you are using your table outdoors (or even indoors) I highly recommend paintable silicone. You can also use wood plugs for a more finished look. But wood filler is my best friend. Paint or stain as desired, seal with an appropriate exterior waterproof sealer if you are using outdoors.

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