Picnic Table

3 Days

It felt wrong when i had the thought to buy a picnic table for the back yard. In hind sight, it would have been way cheaper and saved 3 days of my life... but, how cool is this table?!?
i bought Ipe, Tiger Wood, and Ceder for this project and hand rubbed 3 coats of oil for the finish. I know the sun will destroy the look within a few months, so she is going to be high maintenance with a sand and oil every year.
A few tip's:
-S.A. hardwoods are very dense! This allows a thinner material to span a longer gap with less deflection. For this project, the top is made out of 1 x 4 material.
-One of the many nick names for Ipe is "iron wood" it will sink in water, and it has helped to make this top more than i can handle alone. This also requires pre-drilling for fasteners.
-The end cuts are sealed immediately after cutting with Ipe wax to prevent checking
-The miters all received 2 - 10mm x 50mm Festool Sipo Mahogany Tenons, wiped with alcohol, glued with titebond 3, and clamped for a few hours to dry. This is not a DIY machine, but may be substituted with the use of biscuits, splines, or dowels.
-Wear a mask when cutting and sanding!! Many carpenters catch an upper respiratory infection when building S.A. decks. This has been argued that it is due to the water and bacteria in that wood we are not used to, others say it's just because the dust is much finer. regardless of who is right, wear a mask or use dust extraction.
-Order extra! This is not stock lumber, infact i had to pay freight to get these pieces trucked to my house from the online merchant. I had a few pieces that were bowed just enough that i couldn't use them... better to have too much than not enough on a special order build...
-Learn your finishes! My first two coats were with Messmers UV Plus. his really brings out the grain and contrast within the woods... makes it come alive. I wouldn't do more than 2 coats of a toner, my final coat was the Festool SurFix exterior oil blend worked into the surface.
The first thing I did was orient all the pieces so there were no chips or eye catching pattern. Next I sanded every piece from 60 grit up to 220 grit. This removed any waves from the mill blades. Last is a raged on coat of oil.
After the sanded and oiled pieces had the night to dry, I brought them outside, cut them to size, and assembled. The Ipe frame is mitered, wiped with distilled alchohol, plowed out with the Festool Domino, glued and clamped.
The undercarriage was made from more affordable 2 x 4 cedar. To make the cross, I found the angle that the legs would intersect at, and used my sliding compound mitersaw with the depth stop engauged. Next clear with a chis
With the use of various size exterior screws and a drill to pre-drill pilot holes, I assembled the table board and batten style. The legs and cross bar are fastened into battens. Now the top is hand sanded with 220 and oiled again.
Two 1 1/4" exterior screws, a tight dado, and some gorilla glue hold the bench legs together.
This picture shows what a little planning can accomplish... I offset the battens and legs on the bench with the ones on the table so that the benches can fit under the table if needed.
After a final sanding with 320, a final coat of exterior oil is applied and left to dry. This is the finished product.

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2 of 29 comments
  • Debbie K
    on Oct 23, 2013

    That table is to beautiful to set outside....love the contrast of color!

  • B. Enne
    on Jul 15, 2015

    WOW! It isn't the old rickety table we had!!!

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