Open Space

The first step is to carefully collect the wood for your picnic table (see “Gathering Wood” below). Once you have amassed your pile of wane-free, handpicked lumber, it’s time to clear a solid, flat workspace for yourself. If you don’t have a sturdy worktable, a flat driveway or patio will work well for this project. Try to avoid working directly on your lawn or other uneven surfaces.


• Four 10-foot 2 × 6 boards

• Three 10-foot 2 × 4 boards

• One 12-foot 2 × 6 board

• One box of 2 ½-inch decking screws

• Handsaw (or circular saw)

• Power drill (with a driver bit to match decking screw heads)

• Speed square (a protractor will work, but this is a great tool to have around)

• Tape measure

• A level

Gathering Wood:

John Wenderoth advises that you select straight boards free of wanes, knots, and end checks (splits that start on the ends). Here are his top picks for Portland planks:

ReBuilding Center Scour the salvage yard for wood with character. Avoid older pressure-treated lumber, which may contain unsavory chemicals.

PARR Lumber Gather FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) Douglas fir or tight-knot cedar planks. Cedar is naturally rot-resistant, but it’s also a bit of a splurge.

Lowe’s or Home Depot These will be the cheapest, but the timber is not managed with the care of FSC practices. Here, opt for kiln-dried Douglas fir or cedar.,