This week we’re joined in the DIY studio by friend and Dunn Lumber employee Cole. Cole works in our Shoreline store as a Blue Streaker—basically, he gets to build up products to get sent to other Dunn Lumber locations.
Cole’s DIY experience started like so many others—in his high school woodshop. While he's familiar with most DIY tools, wood joinery was new to him when completing this project.
This outdoor dining table is grand yet simple. It consists of two main pieces: a base and a tabletop made of two-by-sixes. It takes well to any kind of stain or paint, so you can easily integrate it into your outdoor living style.
Grab your tools and let’s get into it!
Step 1: Cut wood
For this project, we will be using tight-knot cedar due to its natural resistance to rot and water. In this case, we have chosen to use decking boards because they already come mostly sanded and have rounded edges which make for a better overall finished product over something with hard edges.
Use the nicest boards you can find, but wood is a natural product with naturally occurring knots and such. In most cases, you’ll be able to pick a “good side” that will face upward or outward. With the boards that make up the top (the two-by-sixes) some minor defects on one side are acceptable because they can be placed on the underside.
Refer to the cutting diagrams below as you make your cuts. When you're done cutting, you should have the following pieces:
Make sure the miters are parallel so the legs splay out. When marking for cutting, select one edge to mark on to keep length consistent.
- (4) 4x4 cut at 28 ½” with parallel 10º miter on both ends
- (2) 2x4 cut at 39”
- (2) 2x4 cut at 31” with 10º opposite miter (measured on long points)
- (1) 2x4 cut at 94”
- (1) 2x4 cut at 96”
- (2) 2x4 cut at 28 ¼” with parallel 45º miter on both ends
- (12) 2x6 cut at 47 ½”
- (1) 2x6 cut at 34 ½”
- (2) 2x6 cut at 111 ½” with opposite 45º miters on both ends (measured at long point)
- (2) 2x6 cut at 45 ¼” with opposite 45º miters on both ends (measured at long points)
Step 2: Assemble legs
Mark a line 4 ½” from both ends of your 39” two-by-fours (this is where the outside edges of the four-by-fours will be). Working on a flat surface, secure the four-by-fours to the two-by-four using wood glue and #9 x 2 ½” screws. Drive four screws through each two-by-four into the ends of each of the four-by-fours.
Now, grab one of your 31” two-by-four (with opposite 10º miters on both ends). Drill two pocket holes in both ends of the long edge of the piece (all holes should be on the same side of the board). If there’s a “bad” side of the board, drill pocket holes on that side. Now complete these steps on the second 31” two-by-four so both pieces have identical holes.
Measure 5” from the bottom of both legs (on the long edge) and mark with a pencil. This line marks where the spreader/stretcher will be, which you’ll center on the four-by-four with 1” on either side.
Before drilling pocket holes into the spreader, clamp the joint to prevent the drill from twisting the pieces and throwing things out of square. It’s also a good idea to set the clutch on your drill to a low setting, so as not to overdrive the pocket holes. We also used a couple of 1” spacers to keep the gap between the two pieces consistent (we used scrap square moulding for this, but you can cut some scrap lumber to 1” if necessary).
Once everything is clamped in place, drill two pocket holes where you previously marked. Then, fasten the spreader into place using wood glue and 2 ½” pocket hole screws.
Step 3: Fasten legs to stretchers
Grab your 94” two-by-four and drill two pocket holes in both ends of one wide side, making sure both holes are on the same side of the board.
Now grab the 96” two-by-four. Drill pocket holes in both ends of the board like you did with the 94” piece. With the pocket holes of the leg assemblies facing each other, find the center of both top pieces and mark a line. Then find the center of the spreader/stretcher pieces below.
Now you’re ready to attach the 94” and 96” stretchers between the two leg assemblies. Apply glue and clamp the 96” piece to the center of the spreader on-edge, lining up the edge of the spreader to the center line. Then use 2 ½” pocket hole screws to fasten the two pieces together.
Then use the same glue-clamp-drive method to attach the 94” piece to the centers of both top plates, making sure the piece is flat and pocket holes are on top.
Step 4: Add supports
Grab both of your 28 ¼” pieces and drill pocket holes into both angle-cut ends. Make sure to drill them perpendicular to the mitered cut ends. Mark lines 31” from both ends of the top stretcher/spreader and 12” from both ends of the bottom stretcher/spreader. These lines mark where the outside edge of the supports will line up.
Clamp the stretcher/spreaders together using two 1” spacers between the pieces, being sure to keep the stretcher/spreader centered. Attach the supports to the stretcher/spreader using wood glue and pocket hole screws.
Step 5: Build tabletop
Grab the 12 pieces of 47 ½” two-by-sixes. Drill pocket holes in both ends of each piece on the flat, wider sides.
Lay six of the pieces side-by-side with ¼” gaps between the boards, then measure the width from end to end. This should be around 34 ½”, but your exact measurement could vary depending on the actual width of each of your two-by-six boards.
Now grab your 34 ½” two-by-six—this will be the center plank that the rest of the table will build off of. When we laid our boards out, this center board needed to be slightly wider than the rest, so we trimmed it to match the width of the rest of the boards.
Attach the 12 two-by-sixes to the center board with wood glue and pocket hole screws. Start on one side of the center board, leaving the ¼” gap between each board (you can use a ¼” lathe or carpenters pencil to achieve the gap). Eventually, you’ll end up with six boards on one side of the center board and six on the other.
Step 6: Add picture frame
Start with the short sides: Grab your two 45 ¼” two-by-sixes and drill pocket holes into the angled ends of the boards. Then do the long sides: Grab the two 111 ½” two-by-sixes and drill pocket holes into the angled ends of those boards. Then, drill one pocket hole just to the right of the center (about 55 ½” down the length of the long side), and another hole to the left of the center.
We then found the points a quarter of the way down the long side and three-quarters of the way down, marked those spots, and drilled pairs of pocket holes there as well to anchor the long boards of the picture frame to the center boards.
Apply glue at the joints and clamp the end pieces in place before fastening with pocket hole screws. Attach the end pieces to the rest of the table then the ends to the sides and tabletop.
Step 7: Attach tabletop to base
Place the tabletop on the base you’ve just constructed and center it. There should be 5 ¼” from the top of the table to the top plate and 3 ⅛” from the side of the table to the end of the top plate.
Apply wood glue to the top of the base where the tabletop will rest and center it. Then, use wood screws to fasten the top to the base driving from the underside upwards. (If you’d like to have the option of removing the top later for maintenance or repair, you can omit the glue here.)
Step 8: Plug pocket holes and finish (optional)
Now that all your table pieces are fastened together, glue pocket hole plugs (or wooden dowels cut at an angle) in each hole. This step is optional, but some of the holes in the table base will show, so you may want to plug them for aesthetic reasons.
Sand your table and finish however you’d like. If you’re planning to keep your table outdoors, make sure to use outdoor finishing products—exterior paint or stain and polyurethane are both great options, as is LifeTime Wood Treatment.
And that’s it! Now you have an elegant outdoor table that’s ready for a twilight dinner under the stars.