Push in the whole family at the summer grill by creating a classic American picnic table with built-in benches or picking up a finished one
If you want to set up a folding table and chairs for your grill guests, party planners say that you need to allocate 10 square feet per person to get enough access. If you do this on an average deck or patio, your July 4th celebration will be so chaotic that it may end in false fireworks. A classic picnic table with attached benches is the perfect solution. This variety of backyards and parks – with elbow-to-elbow dining and climbing seating – work on all terrain, so you can move from the deck to the grass.
You can buy one of the pre-made options that are offered in a range of outdoor materials. But if you’re like most readers of This Old House, you’ll probably want to assemble wood and sturdy screws into one big enough to hold the entire clan. Either way, you get family-style seating that gives the dog enough room to do laps while waiting for the first hot dog to fall.
Cut the frame parts
Cut four legs out of 2x8s and cut the top and bottom of each leg 22 degrees. Cut two horizontal 2×4 cross pieces to support the top and two 2×8 cross pieces for the benches. Cut a corner off each end of the bank cross pieces. Make two 2×4 brackets with 45 degree miter ends that run from the sides to the bottom of the table top. Cut 2×4 center struts for the benches and top.
Build the frame
For each end of the frame, attach the top cross piece to the legs using 2½-inch deck screws. Attach the bench cross piece to the legs with 3½ inch long carriage screws 15 inches from the lower edge.
Exit the benches and top
Cut two pieces of 2×6 for each bench and five pieces for the top so that there is a 2 inch overhang on both sides. Attach the corners to the bench pieces. Raise the A-frame sides and attach the bench planks to the bench cross members with 2½-inch deck screws. Attach the top planks to the top cross members using the same screws. Place the bench and the top planks 1⁄4 inch apart. Screw the 2×4 struts at one end to the cross piece of the bench and at the other to the underside of the table top. Paint the table with a stain (optional).