Good things come in threes: Make an outdoor side table, coffee table, and serving table using one basic design.
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All three tables are built using the same basic procedures. Print out the Project Diagrams and Cutting List for your selected table size. We provide an animation with easy-to-follow assembly instructions that will help you visualize the steps. For more help before beginning this project, watch this video about using a drill safely and effectively.
From 1 × 6 cedar boards, cut the legs (A), stretchers (B), and cross stretchers (C) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List), then sand the boards with 120-grit sandpaper.
Cedar boards have some different characteristics than pine boards and require special accommodations. Cedar boards often come with one smooth and one rough face. Turn the rough surface to the inside of a project so the side of the boards you touch will be smooth and splinter-free. Cedar boards are also typically thicker than pine or pressure-treated boards, so use the dimensions of the actual wood instead of hard dimensions of drawings when you need to create offsets of interlocking parts in these tables.
To build the center frame, assemble two legs (A) and two of the stretchers (B) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1) using glue and 2-inch screws. Place the bottom stretcher 2 1/4 inches up from the bottom of the legs, use a spacer to create equal spacing on the two legs. Position the top stretcher 3/4 inch (the thickness of one cedar board) down from the top of the legs.
Secure the remaining legs to the top cross stretchers (C) to create the cross leg assemblies (Project Diagram, Drawing 2); place the top stretcher flush with the top of the legs. Secure with glue and screws. Do not install the lower cross stretcher(s) at this time.
Cut the fillers (D) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). For the side table, cut a 45-degree angle on each end (Project Diagram, Drawing 2a).
Position the cross leg assembly(s) onto the cross frame and secure the parts using glue and screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Use a scrap 1 x 6 as a means of spacing the leg assembly 5 1/2 inches from the end legs. On the side table, this will center the leg assembly; for the coffee and serving table, it will position them equally from each end.
Slip the remaining cross stretcher(s) (C) into the bottom of the assembly and secure it to the bottom stretcher (B) and the unsecured legs (A) using glue and screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).
For the serving table, add a third stretcher (B) 14 1/2 inches above the lower stretcher (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) to support the shelf. Cut spacers and rest the shelf on them to hold the stretcher flat while you drive the screws.
Cut the fillers (D) to length and secure to the top and middle stretchers (B) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).
Cut 1 x 6 pine boards to length for the top slats (E) and shelf slats (F) (Project Diagram, Cutting List).
Place the top slats (E) on a work surface spaced 1/4 inch apart with the ends aligned. Flip the table base upside down and center it on the top slats; secure the top to the table using 1 1/4-inch screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Do not glue the boards at this time -- you will remove them later to make painting and finishing easier.
Turn the table upright and use a beam compass to draw an 11 1/4-inch radius on the top slats (E) (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Each table’s top slats are slightly different for the final table shape, mark the top accordingly.
Cut the top slats (E) to shape with a jigsaw. Sand the cut edges with 120-grit sandpaper held in a sanding block.
For the serving table, the shelf slats (F) are all that remain for the woodworking portion of the project. Cut an arc on the front shelf slats (Project Diagram, Drawing 4) using a jigsaw. Sand the parts. Position them on the serving table and secure with screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 3).
Remove the slats from the table and sand all remaining surfaces smooth with 120-grit sandpaper.
Apply the finish. For cedar, apply your choice of stain -- we used a natural cedar transparent deck stain applied with a foam roller. For the pine, apply an exterior stain-blocking primer and two coats of semigloss exterior paint. Finish the tables in your choice of stain or paint (using different colors on the slats gives the tables extra flair).
Reinstall the top slats (E) and the shelf slats (F).