Friday, December 28, 2012

Build Wood Benches & Tables

Build Wood Benches & Tables

Picnic tables were invented so that indoor furniture didn't have to be hauled out and then dragged back in the house when the evening ended. They are designed to be sturdy enough to be left out in the storms and heat of summer and attractive enough to use for entertaining. Although outdoor furniture comes in teak and wrought aluminum in expensive, stylish models, the classic cross-legged picnic table and bench--rectangular or circular---are fairly basic and easy to build. Does this Spark an idea?


1. Lay eight 2-by-6 by-49-inch or six 2-by-8 by 49-inch boards (or other combination of widths that gives the top some ease to drain water) to make a 49-inch-by-49-inch square. Use 60-inch long boards that make a width of 32 or 33 inches for a rectangular table. Mark the center by drawing lines across from the midpoints of opposing sides. Attach a 1-by-4 by 45-inch brace (30-inch brace for rectangle) across the boards on the center line using non-corrosive wood screws.

2. Make a circular top by tying a string to a nail in the center of the middle brace on the 49-inch square, drawing a circle with a radius of 24.5 inches and trimming the corners with a jigsaw. Attach two more 1-by-4 by 32-inch braces on the underside, parallel to the center brace, each 10 inches (use 30-inch braces placed 14 inches from the center on a rectangle) from the center line.

3. Cut four 2-by-4 inch by 33-inch legs. Drill holes through the midpoints of all four. Set two aside. Drive a 6-inch lag bolt just through the center of the first pair. Open to make an "X" and set along one of the side braces, centering the "cross" above the center line. Mark 2-by-4 legs across the top of the brace to scribe the angle needed to fit the cross-legs under the table, trim the legs to fit (hold the legs in position with a nail). Set up the second set of legs, transfer the angle, trim and secure. Mark the bottom angles by turning one set of legs over and marking the angles from the bottom of one set to the top of the others.

4. Rip a 2-by-4 by 13-inch board in half to make two 2-by-2 by 13-inch leg braces. Attach one leg of each pair against a tabletop brace and put a 1-by-2 by 4-inch block between the other leg and the tabletop brace so the leg sits square against it. Attach the block to the tabletop with screws, then the leg to the block.

5. Use one short leg brace against each pair of legs, scribing the angles in the same way as you did with the legs and attaching the braces with wood screws. Make coves with a router or chisel on the braces so the screws can be driven straight and countersunk through the braces into the leg and the tabletop. Put a 2-by-4 by 20-inch brace (this brace should be about 40 inches on a rectangle table---measure to be sure) between the crosses of each pair of legs, and insert lag bolts fully into the brace.

6. Build benches using the same system; use two 2-by-6 by 45 inches and one 2-by-4 by 45-inch planks laid side by side (55 inches long for a rectangle table) Bind with 1-by-4 by 14-inch braces and cut 2-by-4 by 20-inch legs. Use 3-inch lag bolts to attach the cross since there will be no leg brace. Add 2-by-2 by 12-inch diagonal braces between each pair of legs and the bottom of the bench. Make three or four short benches for a round table and two longer ones for a rectangle.

Tags: each pair, center line, each pair legs, pair legs, 2-by-4 20-inch