How To Make A Traditional Picnic Table


Because my strong 6′ picnic table has been a hot topic on this site I thought it would be beneficial to share a previous picnic table design. I haven’t built this style in a while (as you can see from the last image here) but we currently have 6 in use here on the property. This picnic table is what I would call a traditional picnic table. There are no pocket hole screws like my other design. It also features mostly 2×6 lumber instead of 2×10 lumber for ease of assembly. My materials cost is about $80 for non treated lumber and using the most expensive place to price lumber in my location. The .zip file at the end of this post has full size images used in this post. It should be everything you need to build your own.

Materials

  • 2X6X12=5
  • 2X6X8=2
  • 2X4X10=1
  • 1# 2-1/2″ OUTDOOR SCREWS
  • 1/4″ X 5-1/2″ CARRIAGE BOLT=8
  • 1/4″ X 3-1/2″ CARRIAGE BOLT=8
  • 1/4″ FLAT WASHER=16
  • 1/4″ LOCK WASHER=16
  • 1/4″ HEX NUT=16
  • OUTDOOR WOOD GLUE

Step 1

Cut all of your piece according to the cutting diagram.traditional picnic table

Step 2

We will be building the table upside down. Arrange your table slats side by side with no spacing. Center your table braces and space them 3″ from the ends. Use glue and three screws per 2×6 to attach them to the table top.traditional picnic table

Step 3

Add the legs to the bottom of the table top. The edge referenced in the diagram should be positioned 10-7/8″ from the sides of the table. Clamp them in place and drill for two 1/4″ x 5-1/2″ carriage bolts. I use a cheap 16″ long electricians 1/4″ butterfly bit (commonly called spade bit). I picked one up at a local hardware store for $2. After the holes are drilled remove the legs, add glue, then bolt them in place. Use a washer, lock washer, then the hex nut. Insert the bolts from the outside.traditional picnic table

Step 4

Center the seat support and space it from the bottom of the legs (remember it’s upside down still) by 8-1/2″ and temporarily clamp it in place. An extra set of hands will help a lot here. With it clamped where it needs to be drill two holes per leg for 3-1/2″ carriage bolts. Drill these holes along the long diagonal of where the two pieces meet. It’s the same procedure as before. After the holes are drilled remove the seat support, add glue, then bolt them in place. Use a washer, lock washer, then the hex nut. Insert the bolts from the outside.traditional picnic table

Step 5

Attach the 45° braces. Use glue and two 2-1/2″ screws at each intersection. Be sure to position the screws so that you do not go through the table top or the seat support.traditional picnic table

Step 6

Join each pair of seat slats with a 9-1/4″ seat brace. I space my seat slats at 1/4″. Use glue and two screws per 2×6 to attach the seat brace. traditional picnic table

Step 7

Install the seats on the seat supports. Center them with even overhang on the ends and with a 1″ overhang on the sides.traditional picnic table

That’s it. If you didn’t build it out of treated lumber it is now ready for your water sealer of choice. It has been a while since I built this style of table so I do not have a freshly built table picture to share. However, here is a table that was built two summers ago. As you can tell it is due for some type of outdoor stain or paint. Considering the lack of maintenance and the harsh summers we have in Mississippi I think it has held up pretty well.

Free Plan:

traditional picnic table

 

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10 Comments

  1. Alex

    Hey, love the design man – although I was wondering if you have a set of plans with metric specifications? Thanks

  2. Les

    Thanks Jay. I’m looking forward to building this. Would it not be better to space the planks to allow rain to drop out and for expansion?

    1. Jay Bates

      I have found that the wood will shrink more over time than expand. Yes, some seasonal movement will occur in both expansion and contraction but overall the boards I use will shrink.

  3. Benny

    Just found your site, Jay… I’ve been wanting to try my hand at building a picnic table for a while. Your plans have given me the courage to actually give it a shot! I’ll be buying the lumber and getting started this weekend. Thanks so much for posting these great plans.

      1. Benny

        One quick question… my local home depot didn’t have 1/4″ carriage bolts, so I picked up 5/16. Will those be ok to use, or do I run the risk of splitting the 2×4 top brace?

          1. Benny

            I did it, Jay! And it came out beautiful. It took me and my neighbor 4 hours from start to finish. I would love to share a picture of it, but there’s no way to post pics here, is there?

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