Family DIY

Kids + Baby

Family DIY

Build a Picnic Table for the Kids

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Childrens picnic table beauty
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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 193 Projects

Picnic tables come in many styles, shapes, and sizes, with one of the sizes being “pint.” This downscaled kids' picnic table is a wonderful addition to any backyard where children play. Its light weight allows you to move the table around the yard for impromptu tea parties on the deck or dinner under the trees. Yet its wide footprint makes it extremely stable so your rambunctious little ones won’t tip it over. 

Constructing this kid-sized picnic table is easy. The trickiest part is probably getting the angles cut correctly at the tops and bottoms of the legs. They should be cut at a relatively shallow 50° angle. If they are cut too steeply the table will be taller and less stable; too shallow and it will be shorter and very difficult to seat oneself in. With a kids' project such as this it is important that you eliminate any sharp edges and do a thorough job sanding the surfaces smooth and splinter free. The edges of the boards can be “broken” by sanding them lightly so they are not sharp. Or, you can install a roundover bit in your router or laminate trimmer and shape the edges all to the same profile. 

The table seen here is built with cedar and coated with a clear, UV-protective sealant. You could also make it from modern pressure-treated pine (arsenic free) and paint it or finish it with a semitransparent deck stain. If you do use treated lumber, be sure to choose hot-dipped lag bolts that are triple-coated to limit corrosion. Or, better yet, use all stainless steel fasteners.

How to Build a Picnic Table

  1. Childrens picnic table 1

    To make the angled legs, use a saw protractor to mark a 50° angle on one end of a 2 × 6. Cut the angle using a circular saw. Measure 32" from the tip of the angle, then mark and cut another 50° angle parallel to the first. Do this for all four legs, cutting two legs from one piece of lumber. Cut the table supports to length. Measure 11⁄2" in from each end of both supports and make a mark. Make a 45° angle starting at the mark and going in the direction of the board end. This relieves the sharp end of the board to prevent injuries and also looks more pleasing. Cut the seat supports to length. Measure 21⁄2" from the ends of both supports, make a mark, and cut a 45° angle to relieve the sharp ends

  2. Childrens picnic table 2

    Place one of the legs against the tabletop support so the inside edge of the leg is at the centerpoint of the support. Align the top of the leg with the top of the support. Clamp the pieces together. Drill two 3⁄8" holes through the leg and support. Stagger the holes. To keep the bolts from causing scrapes, recess both the bolt head and nut. Drill 1"-dia. counterbored holes about 1⁄4" deep into the legs and the tabletop supports. Insert a 3⁄8 × 3" carriage bolt and washer into each hole. Tighten a washer and nut on the end of the bolt using a ratchet wrench. Repeat these steps to fasten the second leg in place. Note: If your washers are larger than 1", drill a larger counterbore. Measure along the inside edge of each leg and make a mark 121⁄2" up from the bottom. Center the seat support over the leg assembly, on the same side of the legs as the tabletop support, with the 45° cuts facing down and the bottom flush with the 121⁄2" marks. Clamp the two pieces together and then drill 3⁄8" holes with 1"-dia. counterbored holes. Fasten the seat support to the legs using carriage bolts, nuts, and washers. Repeat this step to assemble the second A-frame.

  3. Cut the seat boards to length. Stand one of the A-frames upright. Place a seat on the seat support so the seat overhangs the outside of the support by 71⁄2". Align the back edge of the seat with the end of the support. Drill two 3⁄32" pilot holes through the seat into the support and then insert 21⁄2" deck screws. Attach the seat to the second A-frame the same way. Fasten the seat on the other side of the table using the same method. Cut the brace. Center the brace between the seat supports, making sure they’re flush at the bottom. Drill two 3⁄32" pilot holes through the supports on each side, then fasten the brace to the supports using 21⁄2" deck screws. Cut the tabletop boards to length. Place the 2 × 4 tabletop across the center of the tabletop supports, overhanging the supports by 71⁄2". Drill two 3⁄32" pilot holes on both ends of the top board where it crosses the supports. Attach it to the supports with 21⁄2" deck screws.

  4. Childrens picnic table 3

    Place a 2 × 8 tabletop board across the supports, keeping a 1⁄4" gap from the 2 × 4. Drill pilot holes in the end of the board, then insert 21⁄2" deck screws. Install the remaining top boards the same way, spacing them evenly with a 1⁄4" gap. Allow the outside boards to overhang the end of the tabletop supports.

  5. Sand any rough surfaces and splinters, and round over edges on the seat and tabletop using 150-grit sandpaper. Apply a stain, sealer (foodsafe boiled linseed oil is a good choice), or paint following the manufacturer’s instructions.

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