Tips for Building a Picnic Table & Bench

A picnic table and bench can be a great addition to any porch, patio or garden setting. If you set out to buy a picnic table set, you will notice that they are very expensive, with a wide range of costs that vary by material, size and design. With common tools and hardware even the most unskilled woodworker can build a picnic table and bench set. Follow the simple tips below for a successful and rewarding project.

Keep It Simple

You do not have to be a professional craftsman to build a picnic table and bench. Take a moment to look at a set the next time you go to the home store or large department chain. Take a camera with you to snap some photos from all angles. You will notice that the picnic table and bench are simple. They consist of several pieces of wood that are usually stained, have a few braces on the top and, most of the time, legs made of two pieces of wood that are crossed. When designing your picnic table and bench, keep these simple features in mind.

Use Bolts

When you begin to assemble your table, you can save money by using wood screws instead of bolts. Even though this is a cheaper method, it is not the wisest choice. Wood screws and normal screws have a tendency to loosen over time as the as the table and seats get used.

Bolts go completely through the wood and are then secured in place with nuts. This keeps the table together for years to come, no matter how often you use it.

Wood Choice

A picnic table and bench spend a lot of time in the elements. This means that the materials you use must be designed for longevity of the set. You can use any wood that you like, but certain kinds are more appropriate for practical use. Pine is a fine wood for a picnic table set, but it will need a lot of work to stay looking nice, including sanding, staining and protecting it with polyurethane.

The best wood for a picnic table set would be cedar. Cedar not only is naturally strong, but withstands the elements without having to be treated with stain or polyurethane. Cedar is also resistant to mold, fungus and insects.

Even better than cedar are composite materials—combinations of wood and plastic pressed into planks. They are very popular to use to build decks because they do not weather, splinter or discolor. Their longevity is far superior to any natural wood.

Proper Measurements

You can buy plans online or find them in magazines. It will also be helpful if you could take pictures of picnic table sets already assembled. You can even take measurements of existing sets. Don't build a set too large for your available space.