A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Make A Picnic Table

Outdoor picnics are always a great idea whenever a long weekend beckons. However, when you feel like enjoying nature from the comfort of your own backyard – a picnic table can come in handy. Adding your picnic table plans to your DIY projects is easier than you might think. All you need are some sturdy tools, a little planning, some measurements, a bit of woodworking and voila – your 6-foot picnic table is ready. 

Family sitting by picnic table

Plus, you have us to help you through the whole project, from a complete list of materials to a step-by-step tutorial to help make your life easier. So, how about you stick with us as we break down all there is to this picnic table project

Planning and preparing before you start building your picnic table

You know how you work on a shopping list before you hit your local supermarket for the monthly groceries? It’s advisable to do the same before embarking on any DIY project. Fortunately, we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. And, this entire section will walk you through exactly what you need for this woodworking project. Don’t worry; there isn’t anything in here that’s liable to give you nightmares. In fact, we’ve done our utmost to ensure even beginners will feel safe tackling this patio table venture. 

  • Firstly, you’re going to have to get your hands on some quality wood pieces. Be it pine, cedar, or reclaimed wood, top-quality lumber will last much longer than the likes of pallets, plastic or any other material. Also, it’s much easier to achieve the classic picnic table look with wood. 
  • To make a table that can seat six to eight adults, you’re going to need 7 wood boards measuring 5 x 10 x 76cm and around 15 wood boards measuring 5 x 15 x 183 cm
  • Next, you’re going to have to get yourself a dust mask, ear muffs, safety glasses, and a circular saw (or miter saw). There’s going to be a fair amount of cutting and saw work before you get to assembling the table. But, it’ll make your life easier in the long run. Also, make sure you’re wearing appropriate clothing and avoid wearing any jewellery or trinkets that can make working with a saw a hazard. 

Once you have all the necessary items together – it’s time to get to work. Gather the 15 boards (measuring 5 x 15 x 183cm) because that’s where you’ll get your tabletop and table legs from. You’ll also need a speed square and a pencil to measure the boards mark down points you need to cut along. Here’s how you’re going to have to mark the boards:

Man saws wooden boards with circular saw

  • 5 boards for the top of the table. Measure these boards to be 1.8m lengthwise, and cut the pieces to size. 
  • 2 boards for bench supports. These pieces need to measure 1.5m in length. 
  • 4 boards for the legs of the table. Measure these to be 91.5cm long. However, both the ends of all the leg pieces need to be cut at a 45-degree angle (remember to place slopes facing away from the board)
  • 4 boards for benches (or bench seats), measuring 1.8m in length. 

After you’re done with cutting the 15 boards down to size, gather the remaining 7 and proceed to mark and cut them according to the following cut list:

  • 2 boards for cleats (support to the benches), measuring 29cm.
  • 3 battens (support for the tabletop), measuring 75cm in length. Cut both the ends of these boards at a 45-degree angle – facing away from the board. 
  • 2 table braces measuring 0.7m

List of Materials

Once your wood pieces are ready, take a quick inventory of your supplies to see if you have the following materials for the DIY picnic table:

Materials for the picnic table

  • Pencil or Marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Screwdriver (power)
  • Circular saw 
  • Hammer
  • Clamps
  • Speed square
  • Drill machine
  • Deck screws measuring 6.5 and 10 cm
  • Drill bits measuring 0.40cm
  • Carriage bolts (or wood screws) measuring 7.5cm
  • Nuts
  • Washers
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper

Step-by-step guide: How to make a simple picnic table

Are you ready to begin your first outdoor furniture DIY activity? Scroll down for a detailed compilation of step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Start by laying the 5 boards for the tabletop on a flat surface with the side you want on the top facing down. Arrange the boards until their sides have a gap of 0.65cm between each. You can employ wood spacers to get the right dimensions. Then ensure the ends of the boards are perfectly aligned and clamp them in place. 

Next, grab your measuring tape, measure around 18cm from the table top‘s short edges, and make a mark with a pencil on both ends. This is where you’ll place two of the battens, with the third being placed in the middle of the table. Position the battens so that they run widthwise. Use wood glue to glue the battens in place. 

Step 2: Use the drill machine to drill a hole at the centre of each end of the batten. You’ll have to drill at a diagonal angle going towards the top of the picnic table. Use the 10cm galvanised deck screws to hold the battens in place. 

Man drills hole with an electric drill

Step 3: Moving forward, you’ll have to gather the wood boards set aside for the legs of the table. Arrange each leg upon the inside corners or edges of the battens (on both sides of the top). Ensure the legs are pointing away from the top and form a type of A-frame. This is what will add to your table’s balance and durability

Next, add some glue on the legs (forming the A-frame) to ensure they stick to the top of the table. You can use the countersink manoeuvre to add the carriage bolts in place on all four legs. Make sure to add 2 bolts per leg. You can also opt to add a nut and a washer towards the end of each bolt for extra durability.

Step 4: Use your measuring tape to mark 33cm from the bottom of the table legs with a pencil. Then arrange the bench support to align with the mark and clamp it in place. Repeat the process for the other side of the table. 

Countersink the two 7.5cm carriage bolts in place for each leg – this will give the table legs additional support and ensure the bolts sink in without splitting the wood. Don’t forget to add a washer and a nut to the end of the bolts. 

Step 5: Step five involves ensuring the braces are firmly attached to the bench support from the middle batten. This should make the braces appear diagonal. Once you’re confident the braces are secured, drill pilot holes using a drill bit and then add in the decking or the screws. 

Remember to add at least two screws on either end of the braces. If you need to re-measure or cut the braces to fit the space between the batten and the bench support – do so. 

Step 6: Turn the table right side up so that it’s standing on its legs. Gently move and push the table a bit to test its durability. After you’re certain, everything’s okay, gather up the bench boards and arrange them on a flat surface

Make sure they’re positioned facedown. Arrange the boards, so their ends align and use wood spaces to create a 0.65cm gap. Remember, there are only two boards per bench

Hands holding glue gun with polyurethane glue

Step 7: Move to attach a cleat to each bench with the help of polyurethane glue and ensure it’s placed directly in the centre of the bench (and be mindful of the overhang). Next, drill the cleats into place with the help of the 6.5cm deck screws. Place each hole at least 1.3cm away from the cleat’s edge. 

Once that’s done, move on to arranging the benches over the support boards (already attached). Ensure the benches are placed on the support boards with the right side facing up. Drill the benches into place with the help of decking screws and ensure there are at least four screws per bench (two for both sides of the support boards).

Step 8: It’s time to make the tabletop a little more stylish (and safe for kids) by cutting off the corners at a 45-degree angle. You can also use a saw to round off the tabletop‘s edges if that’s what you prefer (this option works best for a kids picnic table). Don’t attempt to take off more than 5cm worth of wood from each corner. 

Step 9: Use 220-grit sandpaper to add finishing touches, get rid of blemishes and splinters. Try and run your fingers over the table once you’re done – if the surface feels smooth, you’re done. 

Next, apply wood stain to the wood with a rag in an even coat and allow the stain to dry off according to instructions. Once the appropriate amount of time has passed, add another coat of wood stain to keep the wood safe from scratches and other types of wear and tear

Picnic table

Now that you’re aware of what your DIY picnic table plans might look like, we’re hoping you’ll feel more confident to tackle this project head-on. However, if you’re not entirely sold on the look of a solid wood table, you can check out other home improvement projects such as a sofa made from pallets and free plans and detailed layouts. But we insist that you give this one a try as well! Who knows, maybe you’ll have your brand new wood table ready, just in time for the fun to begin!

Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend