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Summer Fun — Making a Picnic Table
Do you love spending time outside with your family and friends? Me, too! And, one of my favorite things to do is to have a picnic under the shade trees with my kiddos.
Last year we built an outdoor Fort (hideout, tree house, jungle gym) for the kids to play on. It has slides, swings, monkey bars, and hidden spots for surprise nerf gun attacks and hide and seek shenanigans. But, there is no place to sit down and have snacks. No area to sit and watch the kids play. I kept visualizing a little spot under the shade trees for sharing cookies and juice, eating hamburgers and hotdogs, dropping ice cream cones — you get the idea. I needed a little, rustic picnic table for the backyard.
So, I decided to make my own.
DIY Picnic Table Tutorial
Now, mind you, I like to tinker and make small things from scrap wood like farmhouse signs, shelves, dish racks, and things like that. But, I have never taken on a bigger project. Until now. And, I’m so glad I did!
This picnic table is perfect for toddlers, bigger kids, or small adults, like me. If you need a larger-sized picnic table, explore Pinterest for a wide variety of DIYs.
This tutorial is going to show you how I made a picnic table using a wood pallet (FREE!) and materials I had in my garage. The best places to pick up wood pallets are grocery stores, home improvement stores, etc.
For a list of affordable tools I use for my woodworking projects, click here: JENNIFER’S TOOLS
Picnic Table Supply List (Amazon):
one or two wood pallets (hopefully FREE, check Craigs List)
a pallet buster (this is a MUST!)
pry bar (if no pallet buster)
mallet (if no pallet buster)
variety of different sized screws
stain or paint
First, remove the wood planks from the pallet, preferably in one piece. This is where a pallet buster comes in handy. If you don’t have one, you can try using a pry bar, hammer, or mallet.
Once you have demolished your pallet, pick about six of the best boards to use as your tabletop, and four boards for the seats (two each).
I used three of the thicker boards that held the pallet together as supports for the table top. I cut the ends at a 30-degree angle and attached them to the bottom side of the table top with screws.
After the table top was finished I placed it standing up on one end. I laid the legs down first and put the seat support on top of them. The seat support was in the middle of the legs. I made sure the distance from the bottom of the legs to the top of the seat support was the same on both sides of the table. Be sure to measure your boards frequently, and use your level so your table will be even and balanced. Next, I secured the boards with wood screws.
Once I had finished the other end I added another support between each of the seat supports. You can use one of your pallet boards for this step. If you are going to have heavy kids or adults using the picnic table, you may want to use thicker wood for this project. Since this one is for my children, nieces, and nephews, the thinner pallet wood works fine.
At this point, I stood the table back upright and attached the pallet wood seat tops. Again, I attached them using wood screws, depending on plank thickness. For this project, I mostly used 1 3/4″ and 2″ screws for strength and stability. To make the legs a little sturdier, I added a piece of board to each of the four legs, using wood glue (hence the clamps), and screws. Again, just to give it a little more stability.
The next step is to sand the table really well all over and decide if you are going to paint or stain it. At first, I thought I was going to just stain mine a weathered gray and leave it at that.
But, after thinking about it awhile, I thought it would look better underneath the trees if it were a distressed green with a dark top. I painted the legs a turquoise-green color, and then I used a dark walnut stain on the table top and on the seats. I also used a little of the walnut stain over the green and around the edges. Again, I sanded all over the table to give it a distressed look. The final step was several layers of clear polyurethane to help protect the table from the elements.
Here it is outside, next to the fort and backyard that the kids play in. Hopefully, this little table will see lots of picnics, parties, and snacks over the next few years. These tables can be included in your summer parties, too! Be sure to hang some red, white, and blue streamers, balloons, or lights, and use patriotic tableware to celebrate. Making a few of these easy picnic tables before your next shindig will give you lots of extra guest seating without dipping into your party planning budget.
Don’t forget to send me photos of your picnic table success and how you are using it!
You may also like: DIY – Making a Mudroom with Board and Batten or DIY Wall Mug Rack
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