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Build a Temporary Outdoor Table

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Install these tables where you need them by your deck or patio, or position them around your yard for large groups and special occasions. Features include built-in drink holders and a scoring system for beanbag toss and other outdoor games.

Temporary outdoor table made from cedar with drink holders.

Project Overview

Skill Level

Intermediate

Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost

$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Miter saw or miter box and handsaw
  • Clamps
  • Electric drill/driver, drill bits, countersink, driver bit
  • Square
  • Level
  • 3-in hole saw
  • Exterior wood glue
  • Masking tape
  • Sanding block and sandpaper
  • Sledge hammer (for temporary installation option)
  • Post-hole digger or shovel (for permanent installation option)
  • Jigsaw and jigsaw blade (for permanent installation option)

Materials

  • See Project Diagram for lumber required
  • Painted steel post base (temporary installation option)
  • 10-in concrete tube form (permanent option)
  • Gravel (for permanent installation option)
  • 2-in deck screws
  • 2-1/2-in deck screws
  • #8 x 1-1/4-in trim screws
  • #8 x 3/4-in panhead wood screws
  • 2 - 24-in lengths of chain
  • 2 - 1/4-in hitch pins with rings
  • Golf tees
  • Olympic Elite solid-color stain, Rustic Cedar

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.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Instructions

Use this handy table as needed or turn it into a permanent addition to your backyard. Simply choose the post length for a temporary or permanent table. The Cutting List and Cutting Diagram show parts for one table. The cedar boards used in this project have one smooth-planed face and one rough-sawn face. On the parts with exposed surfaces, orient the rough face out.

Build the Table Top

Step 1

Assemble the table-top frame.

Cut the sides (A) and ends (B) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List, Cutting Diagram). Apply exterior glue to the ends of the table ends (B) and clamp them between the sides (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Drill countersunk pilot holes through the sides and drive 2-inch deck screws.

Good to Know

Where the screw holes are very close to the ends of the parts, drilling countersunk pilot holes prevents splitting when driving the screws. When drilling the pilot holes, only drill through the sides (A) and not into the ends (B). The screws will drive easily into the end grain of the ends without a pilot hole and will hold more securely.

Step 2

Drill drink-holder holes in the table slats.

Cut the slats (C) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Using an electric drill and a 3-inch-diameter hole saw, cut drink-holder holes in two of the slats (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).

Good to Know

The 3-inch hole saw wants to grab the slat and spin it, so securely clamp it to your work surface. To protect the work surface and prevent splintering on the back face as the hole saw cuts through the slat, place a scrap board under the slat.

Step 3

Fasten the slats to the table top.

 

Drill pilot holes, and glue and screw the slats to the frame using #8 x 1-1/4-inch trim screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Before fastening the first slat, make sure the frame is square.

 

Step 4

Install the drink supports in the table top.

Cut the drink supports (D) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Turn the table top upside down. Position the drink supports between the sides and centered over the holes. Rest them on scrap wood spacers, drill pilot holes through the sides (A), and drive 2-inch deck screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).

Add the Post and Trim

Step 1

Screw the rails to the post.

Cut the post (E1 or E2) and the rails (F) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Clamp the post between the rails, with the top edges of the rails and the top end of the post flush. Center the post on the length of the rails. Square the post to the rails and fasten the rails to the post with 2-1/2-inch deck screws.

Good to Know

For a temporary installation, cut the post to the length listed for part (E1) (Project Diagram, Cutting List). You’ll use a stake-like steel post base to secure the post in the ground. For a permanent installation, cut the post to the length listed for part (E2). You’ll bury about 22 inches of this post in the ground.

Step 2

Place the table top assembly (A/B/C/D) upside down on your workbench. Slide the post/rails (E/F) assembly into place, centered end-to-end. Drive screws through the sides (A) and into the rails (F) (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).

Step 3

Screw the trim to the table-top assembly.

Cut the end trim (G) and side trim (H) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Align the top edges of the trim with the top faces of the slats (C) and screw the trim to the sides (A) and ends (B). Drill pilot holes through the side trim where they overlap the end trim and drive 2-inch deck screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).

Step 4

Add scoreboards to the table sides.

To add scoreboards to the table, apply masking tape to the sides (A) and lay out the centers of 25 holes on each side (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Drill 1/4-inch holes and remove the tape. Repeat for the opposite side if desired.

Finishing Up

Step 1

To prevent splinters, sand slight bevels on all exposed edges and corners. Remove the sanding dust and apply an exterior sealer/stain to all parts, double-coating all exposed end grain (Rustic Cedar shown). Apply several coats of finish to the bottom end of the post.

Good to Know

Whether you use the metal post base to anchor your table or bury the post in the ground, the bottom end of the post is most susceptible to soaking up water. For maximum finish penetration, dip the end of the post into the can of finish and hold it there for several minutes.

Step 2

For temporary table installation, screw the post base to the post (E1) (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Hold a level against the post to keep it plumb and tap the post base into the ground with a sledge hammer. To remove the table at the end of the season, wiggle the post to loosen the post base in the ground and pull it out or remove the screws to free the table and leave the post base in the ground.

Step 3

For permanent table installation, cut a 24-inch-long piece of 10-inch concrete tube form with a jigsaw. Dig a 24-inch-deep hole and slip the form into it. Backfill around the form, tamping the dirt as you fill and being careful not to distort the form. Place 2 inches of gravel in the bottom of the form and center the post in the form (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Hold a level against the post to keep it plumb and fill the form with gravel, tamping it around the post as you fill.

Step 4

Attach one end of each 24-inch-long chain to a 1/4-inch hitch pin and screw the other end to the inside face of an end (B) (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Use the hitch pins and the golf tees to keep score of your outdoor contests.