How to Build a Small Picnic Table

••• picnic table image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com

Picnic tables make great outdoor furniture. Though especially useful during the summer months, they can be enjoyed year round. They also take up minimal space compared to a separate table and chairs. Making a picnic table yourself is quite cost-effective. A small picnic table is perfect for children and takes up less space than a full-sized picnic table.

Cut the table's four legs using your 2X8 boards. Angle the top and bottom of each leg at 22 degrees.

Cut the two top crosspieces of the frame using 2X4 boards. Each crosspiece should be approximately 30 inches long. Angle the ends at 22 degrees to match the legs.

Lay the legs on a flat surface in pairs. Set a top crosspiece across each pair, lining up the edges.

Place one 2X4 across each frame, about halfway down the legs to form a lower crosspiece. Adjust the lower crosspieces until each side has an equal overhang. The overhang needs to be wide enough so that two 2X4s spaced 1/4-inch apart can fit on it. Cut off any excess.

Nail the crosspieces in place, but do not center the nail. This is only to hold the crosspieces in their correct positions while you drill into them.

Drill a centered hole where each crosspiece intersects with a leg. You'll have eight holes total. Use the carriage bolts, washers and nuts in the drilled holes.

Stand your two frames upright. Ensure that they stand perpendicular to the ground. You don't want them to be angled. On one side, lay a 2X4 on the lower crosspiece, against the legs. Repeat on the other side.

Adjust the position of your frames and inner bench pieces so that six inches of bench jut past the frame on either end of the table. Secure the benches in place with a clamp. Screw them in place using two deck screws in each. Leave 1/4-inch of space behind these. Add the outer bench pieces the exact same way.

Place the 1X8 boards across the top of the frame. These should overhang each end of the table by six inches, just like the benches. Screw these into the top crosspieces with three deck screws on each board, on each side.

Cut a center bottom brace using a 2X4. This should fit all the way across the underside of the table. With the table still in an upright position, clamp the center-bottom brace in position -- directly centered -- and use deck screws to secure it in place.

Cut a bottom brace for each bench and secure them in a centered position, just as you did the bottom brace on the table.

Flip the table over.

Cut two bracing pieces out of 2X4s. These each attach to the center bracing piece on one side, and the lower crosspiece of the frame on the other. Angle each end at 28 degrees, and measure the distance between the crosspiece and the center bracing piece to know how long to cut them.

Screw the two bracing pieces in place with deck screws. You can now use the table. If you choose, you can fill in the screw holes, paint or decorate it however you like.


  • Working with tools and saws is potentially dangerous if you lack experience. Use caution and don't use any tools you feel uncomfortable with.


  • For a smaller picnic table, cut the boards shorter.


About the Author

Catelyn Millette lives in northern Maine and has been freelance writing since 2010. She covers video games, crafts and animals, and studied animal science at Cornell University.

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