You ask, and you shall receive! Two years ago we built our outdoor patio furniture for the Spring One Room Challenge. While I shared a tutorial for our sofas, I never wrote one for our DIY Outdoor Dining Table. To this day I still receive comments and DMs requesting a tutorial, so better late than never! Thank you to everyone who has commented and given me such positive feedback on our DIY outdoor furniture over the years. It means so much to me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! And thank you for being patient with me 😉 Now, onto the highly requested tutorial!
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First things first. In order to build our outdoor dining table, you are going to need lumber. When we originally built our furniture, the big box stores did not carry the 6×6 timbers we used for the table base, so we purchased ours from a local lumber yard. I have since seen 6x6s at Home Depot. I should also mention that we ordered all of our wood for the two sofas and the dining table at the same time and had it delivered because a) all that lumber would not fit in my Honda Fit 😉 and B) those timbers are pretty heavy. For one dining table you will need the following items to build the table as we did.
All lumber sizes are noted as common sizes in inches x inches x feet
2 – 6x6x10 Timbers*
2 – 2x6x8 Boards
3 – 2x8x8 Boards
5 – 2x4x8 Boards
1 – 12in Sliding Miter Saw
1 – Miter Saw Stand (optional)
1pk – #8 2in construction screws
1pk – GRK 5/16in x 5-1/8in Structural Screws
1 – 3/4 in Spade Drill Bit
1 – Impact Driver and Drill **
1 – Impact Driver Extender
1 – Kreg Jig
1 – Kreg Jig Clamp
1pk – Kreg Jig 2.5 inch Screws
2 – Extra Clamps (optional)
1 – Belt Sander
1 – Orbital Sander
1gal – PPG Timeless Semi Solid Exterior Stain in Chestnut Brown
1gal – Water Based Spar Urethane Satin Finish
1- 48 inch Level
1 – Tape Measure
1 – Safety Glasses
1 – Work Gloves
4-6 Dining Chairs
Know before you build
If you are not an experienced builder you may not be that familiar with wood sizing. Common wood sizes such as a 2×4 are not actually 2 inches by 4 inches, they are 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches. If you choose to build the table with different dimensions, you will need to account for this. Always double check the actual dimensions of your lumber before making cuts.
Note, this picture is all the wood we used to build the dining table and both sofas. I ordered sizes that minimized our waste. If you choose to build more than just the table, it might be more cost effective to purchase different lengths.
*We used smooth sawn Douglas fir timbers. Ours were not pressure treated, however, I do recommend using pressure treated wood. Pressure treating protects against termites, fungi and rot. Despite the fact that ours were not pressure treated, they have held up well.
**Make sure both your impact driver and your drill each have fully charged batteries and have an extra standing by if possible. You will need them.
Cut the 6x6s to size. You will need to cut the 6x6s into 10 pieces, each 20 inches long. These will be your table legs. We used our 12 inch miter saw to cut these but the blade is not large enough to cut all the way through in one pass. So if you are in the same boat as us, you will have to rotate the wood until the blade goes all the way through. Below is a video clip of how we cut ours. This will not produce a perfect cut, however, you will be sanding them a lot if you want to achieve the same look we have.
Measure and cut the 2x4s for the table framing. Our dining table is 70 inches long by 40 inches wide. I chose to use slender, metal dining chairs with our table. I HIGHLY suggest you choose your chairs before you decide on your table length and width to make sure they will fit comfortably with your table. Many outdoor chairs are quite bulky and will require more space. If you choose to make your table with different dimensions, you will need to adjust the lengths and amount of wood you will need.
Based on the table size we decided on, we cut two 2x4s to 70 inches long and two 2x4s to 40 inches long, all with mitered corners so no cut edges would be seen. We joined the two mitered corners and used our Kreg Jig to drill the holes ensuring none of the screws would be seen once fully assembled. If you have never used a Kreg Jig before, I HIGHLY recommend you practice on some scrap wood before you attempt on your table pieces. We did just that.
Once we understood how to use the Kreg Jig, we clamped our first 40 inch piece to our table so we could drill the holes.
The Kreg Jig creates pocket holes making the construction cleaner and stronger. This part of the frame will not be seen.
Cut your table top pieces to size. DO NOT do this step before your have assembled your frame. In a perfect world, your table frame is exactly square and all edges are exactly the same measurements. But lets be honest, this is DIY and things don’t always go perfectly as planned. So save yourself some headache and measure out each piece as you go just in case because once you cut, you can’t add wood back. Our table top wood is laid out like this. DO NOT ATTACH THE TOP PIECES TO THE FRAME YET!
At this point I would also recommend labeling the order in which you laid out all your table top boards and taking a picture to make sure you do not forget which one went where in case some boards fit better a certain way.
*NOTE – When we originally built our table we did not plane the table top pieces because we do not own a planer. But before I re-stained the table a few weeks ago, a friend planed the top pieces for us. This does help them to be more flat since the wood you buy at a store might have some bowing. We did originally buy our wood at a lumber yard which I think tends to have higher quality wood with less warped and bowed pieces. However, after two years out in the elements we did have some bowing and warping. I do cover the table top in the winter with a tarp though because we get a lot of snow.
Cut your frame supports. These will ultimately be what attaches your legs (the stacks of 6x6s) to the frame. Use two scrap 6x6s as stand ins for your table legs. Measure 7.5 inches from the inside frame edge and place your scrap 6×6. Measure the width between the inside of the frame on either side of the 6×6. This should be about 33 inches, but measure before you cut because these should be a tight fit. You will attach these in a later step.
Sand all the wood smooth. We used our orbital sander on the flat surfaces of the timbers, 2x4s, 2x6s and 2x8s. If you have access to a planer, you will not need to do as much sanding.
Then, I sanded all the edges of the timbers with a belt sander to create a bevel.
I am not going to lie, this part was far from fun but gave the pieces a lot more character in my opinion. If you have never used a belt sander before I highly recommend you practice on some scrap wood first. They are pretty powerful and can damage your wood quickly if you are not careful.
Attaching your timbers for the table legs. This part is a little tricky, so pay attention. We attached the timbers for the table legs with screws, but before you drill any holes, determine the orientation you want for your wood. Meaning, if not all of your pieces look the same on all sides or have a blemish you don’t want seen, stack them up the way you want to see them. Then when you are satisfied, flip each piece upside down and number them on the bottom so you remember the order.You will be drilling holes to attach the pieces from the bottom side of each block. This way none of the screws or holes will be seen when fully assembled. To begin, use the 3/4 inch spade drill bit to drill 3 staggered holes into block two about 3 inches deep (I actually measured mine every time so they would be the same). Remember, these are all upside down right now so you are drilling into the bottom of piece 2. Word of caution. These timbers are pretty heavy duty and take some serious force to drill into. Wear gloves and hold onto your drill tight so it doesn’t pull you unexpectedly or swing around and hit you. As I mentioned above, you will need a fully charged battery for your drill as this drains the battery pretty quick.
Now stack block two (still upside down) onto block one (also upside down). Make sure all edges are lined up and it is positioned to your liking. Then use the GRK screws to attach the two pieces. Since the holes are drilled 3 inches deep, your screw will go through block two into block one securing them together. Note, if you choose to use different screws to attach the blocks, you may have to drill different size holes.
We found the impact driver to work best for this part since you are driving the screw through 5 1/8 inches of wood, about 2 1/2 inches on each block. This is why you will need an extender for your driver.
From a diagram perspective, this is what you are ultimately doing. Once you have attached block two to block one, drill your holes in block three making sure to stagger them so they DO NOT line up with the holes you drilled in block two. To avoid confusion, we only drilled holes into one block at a time.
Once you have drilled the holes, stack block three on top of block two and use the screws to attach them as you did above. Repeat with remaining blocks four and five.
Once all the blocks are attached you can flip them over and repeat for the second table leg.
Stain all the wood. I originally used this exterior deck stain to seal and stain the wood. After two summers, I re-stained the table a few weeks ago with the leftover stain. I also chose to do a coat of water based Spar Urethane on it this time. The stain I originally used held up ok, but was definitely faded and had some water spots from winter so I felt like a little extra protection wouldn’t hurt. Both the stain and water based urethane clean up with just soap and water. A HUGE plus in my book.
I used the stain version of my favorite brush to apply the stain. And I used Dawn dish soap and a paint brush comb to clean my brush when I was done. This is my go to clean up method! Although this stain was not super smelly, I stained the pieces in the garage on some folding tables we had in the basement.
I applied one liberal coat to all sides and allowed 24 hrs of dry time on each side, then I gave everything a coat of spar urethane. NOTE: The above picture is from when I stained the sofas. You will have two stacks of five blocks not four.
Assembly. Note, this table is VERY heavy! I HIGHLY recommend assembling it where it will sit permanently. We assembled our table in place on the patio.
Start by laying out the table legs. Ours are 37 inches apart. Then place the table frame around the legs leaving 7.5 inches between the frame and the outside edge of the table leg. You will also need to measure the distance between the ends of each leg and the table frame to make sure each leg is in the same position. Ours are 6.5 inches from the inside edge of the frame. Once all the measurements are equal, add the frame supports you cut in step four. Position them tight around the legs.
To attach the frame supports to the frame, use the Kreg Jig to drill two holes at each end of the support into the frame. Do not attach yet. Drill two additional sets of holes on the sides of each support that will attach to the legs. When you are finished drilling, each support board will have eight holes drilled.
Now attach all four of the supports to the table frame first with the 2.5 inch Kreg Jig screws.
Once all four are attached, raise the frame up to the top of the table legs. The frame should be flush with the top timber. You will need help for this part. My mom and I held the frame in place while Barry made sure it was level and attached the supports to the table legs.
Once all the supports are attached to the table legs, you can attach your table top pieces. We used 2 inch construction screws to attach the table top boards which were screwed into the frame from underneath the table so no screws would be seen. We only added screws to each end, but you can add more if needed.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy your new DIY Outdoor Dining Table!
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