Fashioning an outdoor entertaining space doesn’t have to be complicated. A picnic table is a great solution not only for adding seating to your yard, but also for creating a gathering place that can withstand the elements. All you need is a drill, lumber, screws built for the outdoors and a choice of weatherproof stain to add to your finished table. Read on for tips on tackling this easy DIY project.
Gather Your Supplies
For this picnic table design, you’ll need 15 total pieces of wood. Get them cut to size at your local hardware store, or size them down yourself using a circular or table saw.
For timber, you’ll need:
- (4) 2x4s (8′ length)
- (4) 2x6s (8′ length)
- (4) 2x8s (8′ length)
- (3) 6x6s (8′ length)
For tools and hardware, you’ll need:
- (72) Strong-Tie Strong-Drive SDWS FRAMING Screws
- (32) Strong-Tie Strong-Drive SDWS TIMBER Screws (Exterior Grade)
- Circular or table saw
- Safety gear
- Choice of oil finish, sealant, or stain-sealant combo for waterproofing
Cut Your Pieces to Size
You’ll use your four 2x8s for the table top, and your four 2x6s for the picnic table benches. These don’t need cutting, as we’re going for an eight-foot-long table. Your 6x6s will be cut down to make the strong legs and cross-beams for the table. Finally, your 2x4s will be cut down to fasten your bench planks and tabletop planks together on their undersides. For complete cutting guides for these pieces and helpful diagrams, see the Strong-Tie DIY™ Picnic Table plan here.
Put It All Together
Think of the design as essentially a short table on top of two strong cross-beams, which will also hold your benches.
You’ll be using your 32 8″ exterior-grade SDWS Timber screws for your biggest pieces of wood, attaching your 6×6 bottom and tabletop legs to the 6×6 crossbeams. You’ll use the 72 3″ SDWS Framing screws to attach the seat of your benches and your tabletop to the 6×6 pieces beneath.
Weatherproof Your Table
After your table is built, there are a few options for protecting it against the elements: a hand-rubbed oil blend, typically containing an oil like linseed, plus mineral spirits and polyurethane. This method is recommended for darker woods that have been cleaned and sanded. If your picnic table is made of a lighter wood, it’s best to explore a sealant or stain-sealant combo. Sealants can be sprayed or brushed onto pre-cleaned and sanded wood. They’re quick to dry, but ensure you do so outdoors or in an otherwise ventilated area. A stain-sealant combo is a great one-two punch option, providing color pigment and water protection at the same time. For this option, be sure to clean and sand your wood, apply in a ventilated area, and avoid alkyd-based sealants, which can peel when used outdoors. Once you’ve applied your choice of water proofer, give it ample time to dry, and you’ve got a table that’s ready to go for your next backyard barbecue.