Building a Modern Outdoor Picnic Table
Add a bit of style and sturdiness to your outdoor patio with this build from Johnny Brooke from Crafter Workshop. This build initially used Ipe, a tropical hardwood from Brazil. If you can order that type of wood go for it but you could also substitute for pressure treated 4×4’s. Here is a step by step to build your new table.
Tools You Need:
Clean and Strip Disc
Material You Need:
11 Ipe 3x3x6’s (Can substitute for pressure treated 4×4’s)
½” Flat Washers
½” Lock Washers
10’ of ½” Thick Steel 3” Square Tubing
Steel Plastic Plugs/Caps
How Much It Costs to Build a Table:
$189.07 (With the Ipe) or $154.75 (With the Pressure Treated Wood)
If your lumber is not flat, you will have to mill them, so they are square and flat. If you don’t have a jointer or a planer, you could buy them pre-milled.
Phase 1: The Building Process
Lay out your boards out for assembly and add washers between each board to give an idea of the final look. It is crucial to have gaps for outdoor table tops so that water can drain through. You would want a gap of 1/8” between each board.
Next, cut the ends of the boards square and cut them to their final length. Cut off one end of each board at the miter saw making sure to cut away any cracked areas in the video they came out to 76 inches long.
Tip: After trimming one end set up a stop block on your saw station using a square and clamps. The set up will ensure that all your boards are the same length.
Once cut to the final length, you can start drilling holes for the all-thread to run through the boards. The threads are what connects all the boards to one another
The first holes require you to use a countersunk drill bit for holes so the nut and washers can sit on the outside edge of the table. While drilling this is where you use the 1-1/2” Forstner bit. Drilling deep enough so the nut would be fully recessed.
Tip: After figuring out the depth set the depth for quick and easy work.
Switch over to the 5/8” Forstner bit and drill into the board about halfway through. Flip the board and continue drilling the hole from the other side of the board until the two holes meet.
Tip: Take your time! You do not want to overheat the bit. Also, wear a dust mask throughout the whole project
After finishing drilling all the holes, go ahead and round over the edges for a smooth, clean look.
Sanding. Starting with an 80 grit sandpaper using a random orbit sander on the flat surfaces and ends of the boards. You might need to hand sand for some of those stubborn and challenging edges.
Phase 2: Making It Look Nice
Apply the Teak Oil finish to your project. It is designed to work with the dense hardwoods and is extremely simple to apply. Break up the beams into two groups and finish one before moving onto the other. Putting on a heavy coat let the wood soak it up for up to 10 minutes, apply another heavy coat, let that soak in for 20 minutes, and wipe off the excess.
It is vital to wipe off the excess before letting it set to long. If not the finish will get gummy and extremely difficult to wipe off otherwise
With the boards at their finished size, you can cut all your threads to their final lengths of 34”. You can use a portaband for this part, but a hacksaw would work just as well.
Tip: Use zinc coated hardware in this project. The material will hold up well outside.
Finally, assemble the top. Run all the threaded through the holes, adding two washers between each board, and also added a flat washer, lock washer, and nut at each end. Make sure all of the boards were aligned and then tightened the nuts to secure the boards together. The lock washers will keep the nuts from loosening over time.
Phase 3: Metal Working
Start with 1/8” thick plate steel or 4” wide steel flat bar and cut the steel pieces to width. Mark out where you need cut and clamp a straight edge in place.
To make the cuts you can use a plasma cutter or angle grinder and cut off wheel.
Mark out the length of the pieces, 32 inches in the video, and cut them to length using a metal saw. Again, an angle grinder with a cut off wheel will work just as well.
With the pieces in their final size clean up the edges with a flap disc. Cleaning the edges would remove any dross left if you used the plasma cutter. Then round the corners of the wood slightly, this will take away the sharp edges.
Next cut the legs to size. The legs in the videos are 1/8” thick 3-inch square tubing. You will need about 10 feet of tubing for this build. Each leg needs to be cut to 26 ½” with a 10-degree angle on each end.
Tip: Set a fence on your saw to degrees before making the first cut.
Cut the legs and bevel four of the edges on one end of the legs using an angle grinder. The bevel gives a better area for the weld to penetrate
After making sure the plate is flush with the leg clamp the leg in place. Start welding by first tacking the piece into place.
Once tacked turn the leg assembly on end and ran full-length beads on all four edges
After finishing leg assembly, mark out the locations for the holes that the screws would run through to attach the base to the top.
Use cutting fluid before drilling the holes. Make sure the holes were slightly oversized, this is to account for any wood movement.
After drilling the holes flip the base over and countersink the holes from the other side. Using the countersink bit removes any burr left from the drilling process, also allows the head of the screws to sit flush with the surface of the base.
Prep for paint
In the video, a Clean and Strip disc, were used to remove any of the mill scale and surface rust from the steel.
Afterward, wipe down the entire base with acetone before adding a few coats of flat black enamel paint.
To protect your patio and floor from the steel legs and also keep the steel from being in contact with water, add plastic caps to each of the feet. They give the legs a nice, finished look and are simple to install.
Finally, attach the base to the top using 1-1/4” exterior rated screws. Make sure to pre-drill the holes. Once the base is attached flip the table over and your project is complete.
The Finished Product
Now you have an amazing table that adds some style and ruggedness to any room or patio. Did you find this build fun and interesting? Is this your next project for the upcoming season? Want to know more about the tools used and where to get them? You can find more builds like this on acmetools.com/blog and the tools on the Acme Tools website.
There you can find great deals for all the tools used in this build or find others that will better fit your needs and budget. Let us know in the comment section if you would try this or have tried this build. What changes would you make? What materials did you use instead? We look forward to your comments and don’t forget to Always Do Your Best Work.