The Ultimate Party Picnic Table

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Why I built the ultimate party picnic table

  • I wanted to build a unique table with a built in cooler
  • This was my first attempt at keeping all screws hidden

Would I do it again?

Yes, but there’s a few things I would do differently.

Ready for guests!

This table design was a combination of a few different ideas I pulled together from Pinterest and other general internet searching. I’d seen a standard picnic table with the center cut out to fit a plastic planter box. Filled with ice and drinks, I thought it was a great idea.

I also like the look of the chunky, oversized tables. They usually have matching bench seats.

Combining the two concepts resulted in an oversized table made of cedar with a recessed wooden box lined with copper flashing.

This was one of my last projects where I simply took the rough dimensions and started building. After this one I embraced the “go slow to go fast” concept. The number of times I was stalled on projects trying to solve a problem that should have been worked out with a simple drawing. Taking the time up front to properly plan leads to fewer problems, quicker project execution and less waste. I’m still all for designing a work-bench with scrap on the fly, but for projects that are meant to be “nice” I’m now taking the extra time to thoroughly plan.

Framed up.

Here I felt the legs should be plenty sturdy being screwed in from two directions, the cross-member underneath helps but they don’t compare to the solid legs on the kitchen table with their DIY angle iron brackets. It’s not going to collapse, but you can tell there’s a difference.

Blurry photo…..Boooooo!!!!

I made the cooler box out of exterior grade plywood and used silicone and nails to attach copper flashing. prior to assembling the box. This allowed me to make the seams look a bit more professional. Some clear silicone made it water tight….don’t want ice cold water dripping on your feet!

The drain

Because my cooler isn’t removable, I needed a way to get the water out when the party is over. I found a rubber sink plug in the plumbing aisle at my favorite store. With this in hand, I found a copper fitting that matched. I drill a hole in the plywood prior to attaching the flashing.

Once the cooler was assembled and installed in the frame, I poked a hole in the copper flashing in the center of the hole. Using a box cutter I made four slices in the flashing then used a rubber mallet to force the copper fitting into place. I was really nervous the torch would melt the thin flashing, but I was able to sweat the drain into place without much trouble.

Assembly finished, time to apply some…..varnish (you thought I was going to say finish, didn’t you?)

I’ve now refinished this table and bench 3 times. The first finish I applied was marine grade urethane. This only lasted 1 1/2 seasons. This stuff also flakes off so you have to sand down to wood before you can apply a new finish. The second attempt was a penetrating sealer, this worked great initially but the wood became discolored and a mold of some sort began growing on it. That lasted 2 seasons with frequent cleaning. This time it has a semi transparent deck sealer on it. This should match the robustness of the urethane but allow me to re-coat without having to sand it down to clean wood again first.

With the urethane applied

Check this one off the list….next!!!

About Post Author

MyEndless

Husband, Dad, Engineer and Saw Dust Aficionado
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