When summer rolls into town and our rain-drenched valley is finally bathed in sunshine for a transient cluster of months, Portland comes out to play. Parks become living rooms; streets become sporting venues; porches become stages; and, most important, backyards become dining rooms. And the staple of any fully functioning backyard dining area is, of course, the Portland picnic table, whose classically unadorned social space lends an inviting air to our lawns, encouraging community, conviviality, and the leisurely embrace of the season.
Outdoor dining choices abound. On the high end, there are the elegant, teak-slatted tables that go for up to $3,000 at Design Within Reach; on the sustainable front, Minnesota-based Loll Designs approximates the classic picnic table with a contemporary, high-density polyethylene and Richlite structure. But for as little as $50 in wood and hardware, you can build your own quintessential, rough-hewn picnic table that will truly stand up to the test of time. Just pick an afternoon, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.
We chose a homegrown design courtesy of John Wenderoth, a local contractor, ReBuilding Center volunteer, and all-around handy guy who’s built everything from hot tubs to pizza ovens. And because it continues to be a hotly debated issue, we should warn you in advance: This design is for a table with attached benches.