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Outdoor Furniture: DIY Kid’s Picnic Table Tutorial
Spring and 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, treehouse, 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 just sit and watch the kids play.
I kept visualizing a cozy, little spot under the shade trees for sharing cookies and juice, eating hamburgers and hotdogs, dropping ice cream cones — you get the idea.
A place where the kids can enjoy eating food with their friends and not worry about making a mess.
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.
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 free wood pallet and materials and tools I had in my garage.
And, just FYI, the best places I’ve found to pick up free wood pallets are from grocery stores, home improvement stores, side of the road, etc.
For a list of affordable tools I use for my woodworking projects, click here: JENNIFER’S TOOLS
This list has low price-point tools and supplies that I use whenever I want to quickly make something.
Or, when the boys need to make a project for school (that they failed to mention a week before).
So, it’s great to already have the essential building supplies on-hand for emergencies.
DIY Picnic Table Supply List (Amazon):
one or two wood pallets (hopefully FREE)
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 really comes in handy.
I’m telling you, they make this job a lot easier.
If you don’t have one, you can try using a pry bar, hammer, and mallet.
Once you have demolished your pallet, pick about six of the best-looking boards to use as your tabletop, and four boards total for the picnic table seats (two each).
Hey! How do you like those hot pink toenails?
Okay — back to work.
For the underside of the tabletop, I used three of the thicker boards that held the pallet together as supports for the tabletop.
I cut the ends at a 30-degree angle and attached them to the bottom side of the tabletop with screws.
If you are planning to keep this picnic table around for a long time, I would recommend that you also add wood glue, nails, and extra screws all throughout this project to give it extra strength and durability.
Plus, after spending so much time and care with building something yourself, why wouldn’t you want it to last? : )
After the tabletop 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 is directly in the middle of the two 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.
(Another point to mention: always place big pieces of plastic, cheap shower curtains, large trash bags, or painter’s drop cloths underneath your projects.
This keeps messes from glue, paint, and stain under control and makes it easier to find small nails and screws if you drop them.)
It’s Looking Good!
Once I finished both ends of the table legs, I added another support board between each of the seat supports.
Again, 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 picnic table 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 various sized wood screws, depending on plank thickness.
For this project, I mostly used 1 3/4″ and 2″ wood screws for strength and stability.
To make the table 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, this is to give it a little more staying power.
It’s All Coming Together
Yes! It looks like it is starting to come together!
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.
To Paint or Stain?
However, after thinking about it a while, I decided 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 tabletop and on the seats.
I also used a little of the walnut stain over the green paint 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, outdoor-use polyurethane to help protect the table from the elements.
As you can see from the photos, I like a lot of uneven, jagged, worn-looking areas on my picnic table.
It makes it seem as though this picnic table has been around a long time.
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!
Making a few of these easy picnic tables will give you 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!
Over to You!
Do you have a picnic table in your backyard?
Are you frequently having spring and summer barbecues at your house?
Have you made any DIY wood projects?
Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.
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