Sunday, October 7, 2012

Outdoor Eating

My desktop is still not up to the job of blogging, but in between crashes I was able to back up our pictures on an external hard drive... so I'm back to posting.  Yay!

One of my undertakings this summer was a picnic table.  We don't have any place we can put an air conditioner in the bottom floor of our apartment, so it gets pretty hot during the summer months.  We can skirt around it by staying upstairs/outside, but dinner is always a pain.  By that time of day the temperature outside drops off, but inside it's still really hot.  Without another option, we would stick it out and eat in our kitchen.

I wanted an smaller, but still adult sized table, so we could keep it in our covered porch for the winter.  I couldn't find anything exactly, but it was easy enough to combine what I like from these two plans: Big Kid Picnic Table and Adult Picnic Table.

 When I saw there was a big pile of scrap wood at a local business a friend and I went snatched it up (with the company's permission).  It was rough cut, but still seemed good enough for a quick picnic table.

My share.  I didn't even come close to using this much.
In a few hours of careful picking we were easily able to get enough wood to make the table, plus enough for my friend to side her cow barn and then some.

The wood was rough cut, but I was able to plane it down to a smooth finish.  I bought a hand planer, which gave me some practice with the tool without worrying too much about the outcome.  I had really been wanting to expand my repertoire of hand tool skills.

Because the free wood was rough and not the best quality, I did end up buying some lumber for the load-bearing parts.  While I was there, I also picked up a mis-tint can of paint for $2.50.  I would have gone with a brighter color if I had a choice, but it was $2.50!

Someone commented on the original plan's site about how big of a pain it is to paint in-between the slats.  Minding this, I was sure to paint the sides first before securing them.

I countersunk the screws from the bottom of the table through to the top.  I didn't really want to see screwheads on the table top and it really didn't take much extra time. 

 The first time I screwed the legs and seat together, I totally flaked and didn't even check the height of the legs from the ground to see if they were even.  After being shocked by the wobble, I went back and made some minor adjustments.  The table now sits great.

 With that above little guy's help, it took about a week (stop and go) to get it to a painted, usable state.  It wasn't quite finished yet, but that didn't stop us.  The color grew one me and I think it turned out to be a nice neutral picnic table color after all.

After about a month of use, I got back to the project and used some scrap wood to add some diagonal cross supports to stabilize it.  I didn't want to go with a bar straight across, like the big kids plan, as  it seemed to take up too much legroom.  It was acceptably sturdy before and would have been fine for at least a year more, but now it's very solid and I would feel comfortable even storing it on one end. 

 After that, we painted.  My daughter got to help paint some of the top, so I thought it was only fair to share the fun with my son.  He was super cute and did a great job. 

Here's the cost breakdown:
  •    Top planks & Seat - Free
  •    Cross supports and legs - $10
  •    Screws - $2.50 (An overestimate; I didn't use them all on this project)
  •    Paint - $2.50
There we go, a $15 painted picnic table.  And more importantly, a completely finished project.  (I love when I actually finish the last few steps of a project.)

The size is just what I wanted.  Two adults can fit on one side, and three kids on the other.  Now, all that's left to do is enjoy it before the snow falls.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You did a great job on the picnic table. It gives me inspiration to try to make one next spring. Thank for the tutorial.