Last week, my wife went to lunch with a friend and sent me a picture from the restaurant of a two person picnic table. Our friend wanted one for her backyard, and while it’s not really a unique design, I’d never actually seen a picnic table made for only two people. This project is pretty straight forward, and could really be accomplished with only a circular saw and a power drill, even though I used a router and sander to just soften the corners. Here’s what you’ll need
The Table Top
I started out by cutting down the 2×6 pieces for the top (5) and the two seats (4) to 36″. This is where you can get extra credit points for using a router to round over the edges of these pieces, then hit them with a sander. It’s not necessary, but these are the surfaces where your arms will rest and your seat will.. well, sit.
Next up, cut down 2 pieces of the 2×2 to around 26″. I say around 26″, because you need to lay out the pieces for the table top and figure out how much space you want between them. You’ll need at least a little gap, but some people might want up to a 1/2″. So, lay them out, measure the entire width and then cut your 2×2 pieces about 4″ shorter. These two pieces of 2×2 also need opposing angles cut on the ends. The angle is really personal preference, but I went with 30°.
Now you’re ready to lay your top pieces face down and attach the 2×2’s. After aligning the edges of the top pieces, make a mark on each piece at 3″ in from the edge. This will be your reference line to keep your 2×2 straight. Also, make a mark for the center (width) of the middle 2×6, and a mark at the center (length) of your 2×2’s. Start by using those center marks to line up the middle 2×6 and the 2×2. Get the two pieces completely perpendicular, then attach them with 2 screws.
Once the middle is attached, you can work out on each side. I used carpenter pencils as my spacer (they’re about 1/4″). Set the pencils on each side of the 2×2, then set the next 2×6 . Line up the outside edges of the 2×6, attach with 2 screws and repeat for each piece. Flip the table top around and repeat the steps for the other 2×2.
You’re ready to cut and attach the legs. Each leg is a 2×6 with matching 30° angles cut on each end. I cut the angle on one end, then measured down 34 5/8″ and made the matching cut at that point. Repeat for all 4 legs, and be sure not to cut one of them 2 inches short, like I did. It’s frustrating and a waste of wood
I decided to set the inner most point of each leg at the inner most edge of the second board from each side (what a confusing sentence). But you can move them based on how much room you want between the front of the seat and the edge of the table top. To attach them, set the base of the leg in place, along side the 2×2 rail. Then “toe nail” (start it at an angle) a screw into the tip of the leg, and run it into the table top. This will be enough for it to stay in place while you run screws in connecting the leg and the 2×2. I would suggest at least 2 from each side.
Even though the legs are attached, they’re not fully braced, so be careful not to flex them or put weight on them “sideways” yet. You can set the table on it’s side, using some of your 2×6 scrap to prop up the loose ends of the legs. Next you’ll need to cut the seat supports from 2×6. They’re 54 1/2″ in length, with opposing 30° angles on each end. Keep in mind, that they are 54 1/2″ at their WIDEST point.
With the table on it’s side, and supported, you can lay the support across two legs so that the bottom of the support is 11 1/2″ from the bottom of the legs (ground). You’ll need to make sure that the support is centered as well. I did this by trial and error, measuring the overhang on each end, and moving the support back and forth until both overhangs were the same. If I remember correctly, it was about 9 1/2″. Once it’s centered, and leveled (equally distanced from the bottom of each leg) attach the support with at least 4 screws on each leg. Now flip the table over and repeat for the other side.
Are you getting excited? it’s starting to look like a table! You’re ready to brace the legs and to do this, you’ll need to a section of 2×6 to about 24″ with opposing 45° cuts on each end. Once you’ve got this piece, you’ll need to cut it in half, long ways. This is more easily done with a table saw, but it’s possible with a circular saw if that’s all you’ve got available. Flip your table over on it’s top and set both pieces in place between the table top and one leg support. Once you have them setting flush, use two screws on each connection point to attach. The legs should be rock solid now (even though they’re still going to get a few more screws)
One last step, adding the seats. You’ve already cut, routed and sanded these, so flip your table over (it should be getting a bit heavy by now). Set the first 2×6 across the supports and up against the legs. Use the same trial and error approach as earlier to get the seat piece centered (around 5 7/8″ overhang on each side) and screw it into the support with two screws per side. Next, use the same spacer method that you used on the table top. Use the spacer to get the second seat piece in place. You’ll notice that the second seat piece hangs over on three sides. After centering it, you’ll need to use the “toe nail” method on the outer screw to attach it to the support. I also had some 3″ screws and used them here since there was plenty of wood depth to go down into.
Repeat these steps for the other side of the table and one last step! Flip the table over and run a couple screws through the table top, down into the top of the legs, just to make sure they’re good and strong. YOU’RE DONE! That wasn’t that tough, huh?
This project cost me under $60 and only took about 3 1/2 hours! Here are some free plans so you can get to building your own! The only real difference between this and a full size picnic table is the width, so you could easily make it seat 4 or 6 without much change. Let me know your comments and ideas in the comments, and if you end up building one, PLEASE send me a picture of it!!
Here’s a time-lapse of my build! (Had some technical issues, but, it is what it is.)