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Build a Picnic Table with a 4 ft sq top

picnic table icon This picnic table was built to fit a small area on a covered deck. Relatively simple and straight forward you can build a table that will last for decades. The pictures of this one, I made in 1985. The table I will describe here has a 4 foot square top. I found it the perfect size for our deck.

It has benches attached to the table and is stable and strong. Certainly you can modify these plans to meet your needs. I have plans for a more traditional 8 foot long table here.

Choice of lumber is up to you. I think pressure treated pine works fine, but if you want you can use redwood or other.

The top is made of 13 2x4's.

Picnic Table measurements

Picnic Table on deck

You will need the following materials:
  • 14 - 2x4's 8 ft long
  • 2 - 2x6's 8 ft long
  • 8 - 3" x 3/8" carriage bolts (galvanized) plus washers and nuts for each. (check that your washers fit in the 3/4 spade bit hole)
  • 1 - 1 lb boxes of 16d galvanized twist nails


  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Drill (and 3/8" bit, and ¾" spade bit)
  • Saw (not too much cutting)

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Build the top:

Cut the 2x4s in half to give you 13 four foot long boards.
You can cut the six seat boards at this time too. They are also 4 ft long.
Cut a 2x4 into 2 pieces each 47 inches long for the cross boards.
Nail the 13 top boards to these two cross boards leaving a half inch of overhang on each side. The two cross boards should be in 8 inches from the ends.
table top

Cut the legs:

The four legs are cut identically from the two 2x6's.
They should have an angle cut on them of 55 degrees at the top and bottom and be 32 inches long on each side. Make sure the 55 degrees is correctly referenced and you are not cutting a 35 degree angle.

Next cut the remaining 2x4's to 6 ft long each for the seat stretchers.

Putting this together…

Flip the top upside down. Mount the legs to the outer cross boards. The legs go on the outside of the cross boards, 14 inches in from the outside of the top. Drill and bolt them to the cross boards with 2 bolts per leg.

bolt holes Countersink the holes for the nuts and washers with the ¾ inch bit, then drill the rest of the way through with the 3/8 inch bit. The nuts should go on the inside (On the inside of the legs) The bolts are only as wide as the wood so there will be no bolt sticking through to ever hit with your knee.

After all four legs are attached to the top, attach the seat stretchers. Measure down from the bottom of the table top 11 inches and this is where the stretchers will be.
Bolt the stretchers to the insides of the legs again using 2 bolts per leg and countersinking the nuts/washers on the inside.

leg assembly Picnic Table


Diagonal Braces While it is upside down, attach the diagonal braces. These should be cut from a 2x4. They should be cut with a ~ 22 degree angle roughly 30 inches per side. These should be cut to fit. Make sure the legs are square with the top, the braces will hold them square. Set these offset from each other so you can drill a hole in the center of the table for an umbrella if you should desire. Nail them into the seat stretchers and the table top cross boards, when you are sure the length will hold the legs square.

Now flip the table right side up and nail the three 2x4 seats in place on top of the seat stretchers on each side. Before nailing these in place, measure the distances between the stretchers so again you are ensuring the table is square. There should be 29 inches between the stretchers.


You can leave the table with no finish and it will weather a light grey, or you can apply a sealer, a stain or paint. I stained mine for the first time last week after 25 years. It used to be on a covered deck and didn't get the weather, but now sits in the open so it needs some protection.

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