The Portland Picnic Table

It’s best to construct your table in these four phases, beginning with the tabletop. When you’ve finished step 4, don’t forget to sit down, take a load off, and enjoy your handmade masterpiece.

Chop It Up

Now it’s time to make your cuts and label the planks of wood that will soon become your picnic table. As you plunge into the saw work, remember (as always) the wise old adage “Measure twice, cut once.” It’s a good idea to scribe each cut—even the simple ones—with a pencil before you make it. Be as methodical and precise as you can: Any slight miscuts can result in a lamentably wobbly picnic table. Refer to the cut list (previous page) for the dimensions and angles of each piece.

As you plunge into the saw work, remember (as always) the wise old adage “Measure twice, cut once.”

1) Start by bisecting your four 10-foot 2-by-6 boards to make your seven wide slats.

2) Next, bisect one of your 10-foot 2-by-4 boards to make the two narrower bench slats.

3) Cut two 54-inch bench brace beams from one 10-foot 2-by-4 board (you’ll have a little scrap left over).

4) The remaining 10-foot 2-by-4 board will become two tabletop brace beams and two diagonal brace beams. (Use your speed square to measure and cut the 45-degree angles on the diagonal to create their trapezoidal shapes.)

5) Finally, transform your 12-foot board into four parallelogram-shaped legs. Trace out these angles on the board with your speed square before executing your cuts, making sure every piece has identical lengths and angles. When you’re done with the cut list, it’s time to finish the pieces with a stain or deck oil (see “Finish Line,” at right, for tips).