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
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.