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Kids' Picnic Table

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Build this pint-size kids picnic table in a weekend to let kids know they’re special. This DIY project is perfect for your patio or yard.

Kids picnic table

Project Overview

Skill Level

Intermediate

Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost

$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Miter saw
  • Pocket-hole jig
  • Cordless drill
  • Clamps
  • Painting supplies (sandpaper, brushes, rags)
  • Waterproof wood glue
  • 80- through 180-grit sandpaper

Materials

  • See Cutting Diagram for lumber:
  • 1-1/4-in pocket-hole screws
  • 1-1/4-in deck screws
  • Stain-blocking primer
  • Valspar Duramax exterior satin paint & primer in one, Sea Exposure (#5005-8B)
  • Quart Olympic semi-transparent stain, cedar natural tone, #206733

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources

Instructions

The cedar boards for this picnic table come with a smooth and a rough surface. We turned all the rough faces down and to the inside of the project. This smoothes the top and edges that kids will touch. However, the rough side can still have splinters, so sand all of the surfaces and round over any sharp corners as you go. You do not need to make the rough faces perfectly smooth, the sander will smooth the faces while retaining the rough texture appearance.

Assemble the Base

Step 1

Cut the rails (A), seat stretchers (B), and top stretchers (C), from 1 x 4 cedar (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Mark the locations of the pocket holes on the parts, set your pocket-hole jig for 3/4-inch-thick material, and drill the holes (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).

Step 2

Assemble the frames

Using glue and clamps, assemble the lower frame (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) and drive the pocket-hole screws to secure the assembly (Photo 1). Repeat for the upper frame.

Step 3

Cut the uprights (D) and legs (E) to length, and use a compass to mark the 2-1/2-inch radius (Project Diagram, Drawing 3) on the corners of the parts. If you don’t have a compass, use a quart-size paint can to draw the arc on each corner of the board. The slightly different dimension of the paint can from the 2-1/2-inch dimension will not affect the design of the table.

Step 4

Cut the corners of the legs and uprights

Clamp the parts one at a time to your work surface and cut the rounded corners with a jigsaw (Photo 2). Sand the cut edges smooth with 150-grit sandpaper.

Step 5

Add the uprights to the picnic table lower frame.

Mark the location of the uprights on the lower frame (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Glue and clamp the uprights to the frame and secure with screws driven through the rails into the uprights (Photo 3).

Step 6

Use spacers to position the upper frame.

Flip the table upside down to add the upper frame between the uprights (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). To position the upper frame below the top of the uprights by the thickness of the top boards, rest the upper assembly on a few scraps, add glue, and drive screws to secure the upper frame to the table (Photo 4). This will create the offset required for the top installation.

Step 7

Add the legs to the table.

Add the legs to the assembly even with the top surface of the lower frame (Photo 5). Secure with glue and screws.

Step 8

Cut the side spacers (F) to length and place the between the uprights. Because board thicknesses vary -- they may not be exactly 3-1/2 inches long -- cut these parts to the length that fits, sand, and install with glue and screws.

Add a Finish and the Top

Step 1

Flip the table over and cut to length the seat boards and center top slat (G), and the top slats (H). Sand the top boards and any remaining edges of the table and apply the finish. Apply a primer and two coats of exterior paint (Sea Exposure shown) to the table base assembly following the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply a semi-transparent stain (Cedar shown) to the top and seat slats.

Step 2

Add the seats and top to complete the table.

Place the top and slats on a work surface and add the table base upside down (Photo 6). Use the pocket holes you drilled in the frame sides (A), lower ends (B), and upper rails (C) to drive screws into the top and seats (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). With pocket holes, the screws are invisible from above, and they won’t heat up in the sun on the surfaces of the board where small hands could burn on a hot day if the screws were exposed.

Step 3

Flip the table over and add kids to the picnic.