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Free Picnic Table and Bench Design Plans

What set of free plans would be complete without a free set of picnic table plans!  If you like it, be sure to come back for more. Thanks to our customer Jay N. for creating this plan and submitting to us!


Free Picnic Table Wood Plans
Premium Picnic Table Plans
The most popular set of plans for the beginner outdoor furniture builder!  Everyone wants to build a picnic table as their first project.

This particular wood plan shows you how to building a picnic table for your backyard.  Please enjoy this nice set of free wood plans! 
 Please make sure you check out our custom shed plans in our shed plans package before you leave our site and see if they meet your needs as well.  Our shed plans package has thousands of wood plans just like this, not just shed plans!

free picnic table wood plans

Last summer, my wife, Lynn, and I dropped in on cousin Kathleen and her husband, Ross, at their Wahwashkesh Lake cottage. After the customary welcome refreshments and sharing of family news and gossip, Ross and I naturally started talking cottage stuff. I noted that he had recently replaced the deck on the side of the cottage. This required closer observation, so we abandoned the women and our lawn chairs and climbed the steps for the requisite inspection. Ross said he was considering installing a bench along the railing side of the deck and wanted to know what I thought. Since this bench/table project was already under construction back at my place, I suggested it might be a suitable alternative. Like stationary benches, our bench/tables provide extra deck seating space, but they can be moved around. The added bonus is that they can also be quickly converted to half picnic tables or combined to form a full one. This eliminates the need for the traditional, but cumbersome wood picnic table or a plastic or aluminum patio set that always seems to take up too much space. The multi-purpose benches are the hands (and bottoms) down way to go.

free picnic table wood plans


1. Refer to the Materials List and Illust. 4, to cut out the main parts. If you do not have a really good sabre/jig saw, or access to a band saw, you might want to mitre the corners instead of cutting the curves. It is virtually impossible to keep the blade perpendicular with a standard sabre/jig saw in 11⁄2" lumber so save yourself the aggravation.

2. The table legs require a 11⁄2" x 31⁄2" notch for the back brace (Illust. 4). I accomplished this with a dado blade on my radial arm saw. However, the same can be achieved with a circular saw (or a handsaw, for that matter) and a sharp chisel: Make several passes 11⁄2" deep and then remove the remaining material with the chisel. The bottom outside corners of all four legs for each bench are trimmed to reduce the possibility of splitting when the table is tipped (Illust. 4). Drill a 3⁄8" hole, centred, 31⁄2" from the top of each table leg.

3. For this project, I opted to fashion 31⁄2"-wide half-lap joints in the bench end brackets to increase the frame’s rigidity and strength. Remember to make two pairs of opposing brackets (Illust. 4). Again, the circular saw and chisel method can be used to make the notches if you don’t have something better. Drill the eight clearance holes in each bracket. I rummaged around in my rather sorry collection of bits and found only a 9⁄64" – adequate enough for #8 screws! For looks, you can router the outside perimeter of each bracket (Illust. 3). I like my trusty old 1⁄2" roundover bit because it produces such a pleasing profile.

4. Sand the bench legs, table legs, and the bench end brackets. Attach  the legs to the bench end brackets with #8 x 2" deck screws (the brassy-looking kind) and Type II carpenter’s glue (Illust. 1). The advantage of Type II glue is its water resistance. However, it runs more and tends to ooze out of the joints longer than ordinary wood glue so you’ll need to be extra careful when wiping it up.

5. Drill the 3⁄8" holes in the table end brackets where shown (Illust. 4). Router the outside and inside perimeters, except along the top edges, of the four table end and two table centre brackets.

free picnic table wood plans


1. Select the six best 2" x 6" x 711⁄2" boards for the tabletops. Round the outside corners of the four outside boards as in Illust. 2. To enable the two benches to fit together to form a large table, the table legs must be offset (see photo). For Bench A, the clearance holes for the table end bracket are located 41⁄2" from the ends of the tabletop; for Bench B, they are drilled 61⁄2" from the end. The holes for the centre brackets do not need to be offset (Illust. 2). Sand the table boards and the six table brackets. Check for square, and screw the boards to the brackets using #8 x 3" deck screws. Leave about a 3⁄8" gap between each board to achieve the 17" overall width for each table (Illust. 1).

2. Turn the assembled tabletop pieces upside down. Attach the table leg assembly to the inside of the table end brackets with 3⁄8" x 4" carriage bolts, washers, and compression nuts. Make it a good snug fit (no Herc, you don’t need to crush the cedar!). Carefully stand the benches upright, and swing the tabletop/bench backs up into the tabletop position.

free picnic table wood plans


1. Select the six bench boards (four 2" x 4" x 711⁄2" and two 2" x 6" x 711⁄2"). Round the outside corners of the four 2" x 4"s.

2. Drill the clearance holes for the bench end brackets in the bench boards. Again, because the frames are offset, the clearance holes for Bench A and Bench B are different (Illust. 2). While you’re at it, drill the clearance holes for the bench leg braces as well. Router the top perimeter of each board before assembly. (I, naturally, made the mistake of assembly first; I then had to remove the innermost boards to router them.) Ensure that the frames are square, and screw the boards to the bench end brackets using #8 x 3" deck screws, leaving about 1⁄2" between boards.

3. Router the outside edges of the bench centre brackets and the leg braces before assembly. I screwed the brackets in from underneath; countersink the holes a good 1⁄2" because you will only be using #8 x 2" deck screws. Drill the clearance holes in the bench legs (Illust. 1) and attach the bench leg braces to the centre bench boards and to the legs with #8 x 3" deck screws. Sand.


The back braces (Illust. 4) measure 63-3⁄4" for Bench A and 59-3⁄4" for Bench B. Each brace extends about 11⁄2" beyond the table legs. Notches (see inset detail) on the extensions act as stops for the tabletops when they are tipped up, and the extensions themselves stop the bench backs when they’re tipped down. The measurements given for the notches are starting points. Begin conservatively and whittle away a bit at a time, checking for fit as you go. I made the initial cuts with a backsaw, but then I had to make several fittings, adjusting the angles with a rasp and a very sharp chisel to get them just right; be patient. Once you’re satisfied, check for square, sand, then glue and screw the braces to the table legs using two #8 x 3" deck screws at each end.

Free Picnic Table Wood Plans
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free picnic table wood plans


1. When the bench back is tilted down, it needs to be secured; it must also be locked when it is in the table position. Illust. 5 and 6 show details of the locking mechanism that satisfies both requirements (a eureka moment at five in the morning). The stop block (Illust. 5) has been routered to match the profile of the table centre bracket. Install it on the back brace directly below the centre bracket with glue and two #8 x 3" deck screws.

2. Make a 1⁄2" notch in the bottom of the stop block with a round file or a surform tool. Taper the leading edge of the notch to create a flat surface that is roughly level with the tabletop. (The notch on the top for the bench position is added later.)

3. The swingarm assemblies consist of 3⁄4" x 11⁄2" x 123⁄4" sides, rounded at the ends, and joined by three 1⁄2" x 21⁄2" dowels, two on the bottom and one on top. The dowels nest in 1⁄2" pockets drilled 7⁄16" deep (a forstner-type bit is ideal for this job, as is a drill press). Drill a small clearance hole through the centre of each pocket. This allows excess glue to escape from the pocket during assembly, and is the guide for the pilot holes that you will need to drill for the #6 x 1" screws. Temporarily assemble the swingarm by securing both sides to the two bottom dowels only. Ours were approximately 71⁄16" and 87⁄8" down from the top of the arm.

4. With the bench back in the tabletop position (clamped to hold it in place, if necessary), position the swingarm so
that the top of the middle dowel you just installed fits snugly into the notch you cut in the bottom of the stop block (left- and photo, opposite). Then slide the open upper end of the assembly over the table centre bracket. Use a small nail or awl to mark the position where the upper dowel will pass through the table centre bracket (that little hole you drilled will help. The position indicated in Illust. 6 is approximate). Drill a 1⁄2" hole through the table centre bracket (if you are using a drill press, you will have to remove the bracket from the table). Slide the top dowel piece through the hole in the bracket, sanding the hole slightly, if necessary, to get a nice fit.

Free Picnic Table Wood Plans
(Right Click on Image, and Select View as Image or Save As to See the FULL SIZE Picture)

free picnic table wood plans free picnic table wood plans

5. Leaving the upper dowel in place, pull the swingarm apart, sand, add glue to the pockets, and reassemble. Screw the swingarm sides to the dowel pieces with #6 x 1" screws. Use a rasp or surform to adjust the fit of the middle dowel against the notch in the bottom of each stop block (Illust. 6).

6. With the swingarm in place, drill a centred hole through it and the stop block for the pin. (Precise placement isn’t important: The pin is not loadbearing; it functions simply to hold the swingarm in place.) I made the pins from 3⁄8" x 8" eye bolts. Cut the threaded portion off and taper the ends with a flat file to remove sharp edges and to make for a smoother fit. Though the threaded part measures 3⁄8" in diameter, the smooth shank is slightly smaller; start with a 21⁄64" hole. If that is too tight, then move up to 11⁄32", and so on.

7. Pull the pin and slide the swingarm out. Tip the tabletop into its bench position. Carefully cut a new notch in the top of the stop block until the bottom dowel can be seated securely (this will prevent the bench back from moving). The notch must be deep enough so that you can drill a second hole through the bottom of the swingarms for the pin (right-hand photo, opposite).

8. Run a 12" length of open-link light chain through the eye of the pin, spread a link and hook it back on itself, then close the link. Screw the other end of the chain to the back brace with a #6 x 1" screw.

Free Picnic Table Wood Plans
(Right Click on Image, and Select View as Image or Save As to See the FULL SIZE Picture)

free picnic table wood plans

free picnic table wood plans

9. Swing the tabletop back up and lock it into position. Router the outside perimeter only of the tabletops (Illust. 2). I free-handed this operation, trying to be careful not to run into the gaps, but a cedar shim or a piece of 3⁄8" scrap plywood wedged into the gap – flush to the top and end – will prevent the router bit from wandering into this space. Sand.


A simple latch ensures that when the benches are combined to form a single picnic table, the tabletop surfaces stay together (Illust. 7 and 8, above). It is nowhere near as inspired as the tabletop lock, but it works. Rip 1⁄2"-thick strips of 2" x 4" for the latches and the catches. A 13⁄4" piece of dowel is recessed into the swinging latch arm. The illustrations show how these are assembled. Tack the catches together with 1" finishing nails. Use a #12 x 11⁄2" screw for the latch because it will resist turning. (Note that the two tables should be separated before you move them.)

I finished the tables with two coats of Varathane Natural Oil Finish. This product provides protection from the elements and preserves the cedar’s terrific appearance. It is also really easy to apply – ain’t that a bonus!

Materials List (for 2 benches)


Cutting List QTY Material
Tabletop boards 2" x 6" x 71-1⁄2" 2 2" x 6" x 12' (x2)
Center bench boards 2" x 6" x 71-1⁄2" 2
Tabletop boards 2" x 6" x 71-1⁄2" 4 2" x 6" x 8' (x4)
Table end brackets 2" x 6" x 16" 4
Back brace – Bench A 2" x 4" x 63 3⁄4" 1 2" x 4" x 14' (x1)
Back brace – Bench B 2" x 4" x 59 3⁄4" 1
Table center brackets 2" x 4" x 16" 2
Table legs 2" x 4" x 30" 4 2" x 4" x 10' (x6)
Outside bench boards 2" x 4" x 71-1⁄2" 4
Bench legs 2" x 4" x 16-3⁄8" 4
Bench end brackets 2" x 4" x 29" 4
Bench leg braces 2" x 4" x 11" 4
Bench centre brackets 2" x 4" x 12-1⁄2" 2
Stop blocks 2" x 3" x 4" 2
Swingarms 3⁄4" x 1-1⁄2" x 12-3⁄4" 4 ripped from 2" x 4" offcuts
Table latches 1⁄2" x 1-1⁄2" x 11" 2
Table catches 1⁄2" x 11⁄2" x 83⁄4" 2
*All lumber is premium western red cedar


Deck screws #8 x 2" 1 lb  
Deck screws #8 x 3" 1 lb  
Wood Screws #6 x 1" 14  
Wood screws and washers #12 x 11⁄2" 2  
Eye bolts 3⁄8" x 8" 2  
Finishing nails 1" 4  
Carriage bolts with washers 3⁄8" x 4" 4  
and compression nuts      
Light open-link chain 1' 2  
Hardwood dowel 1⁄2" x 2' 1  
Varathane Natural Oil Finish   2L  
Type II carpenter’s glue      


If you like this free set of wood plans, you should check out the plans we charge for!  Please make sure you check out our shed plans in our shed plans package before you leave our site and see if they meet your needs!  Our shed plans package has thousands of plans like this included in an easy to print PDF format.