Picnic Table that Converts to Benches

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Picnic Table that Converts to Benches

Free, easy, step by step plans to build a picnic table that converts easily to two separate benches. The tabletops rotate to form bench backs. Detailed plans give you step by step instruction to build this multi-use outdoor staple for your deck or patio.

HANDMADE FROM THIS PLAN >>

Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!

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Author Notes: 
So we built a picnic table. I know, it's a tad different looking than the other picnic tables that I build  For one, it's not bubble gum pink . . . yet.  And for two, what's up with those legs?
Well, you see, we actually built two halves of a picnic table.  How many of you sit backwards on your picnic tables most of the time?  We thought that these half picnic tables would be great around a campfire, with lots of room for marshmallows and chocolate right there within reach, but out of the way of the fire.
The mosquito thinks this is a good idea too.  
And of course if you so wish, you can pull a bolt out
It's supposed to do that.
Yep supposed to do that too.
But you already knew that  :)
For those of you needing sturdy benches most of the time, and a picnic table some of the time, this convertible picnic table bench plan is so simple to build.  We spent $54 on lumber and hardware for both benches.  
Shopping List: 

7 - 2x6 @ 8 feet long
4 - 2x4 @ 8 feet long
2 1/2" galvanized exterior screws
8 - 4" long, 1/2 diameter bolts with washers and nuts

wood glue
wood filler
120 grit sandpaper
primer
wood conditioner
paint
paint brush
Tools: 
measuring tape
square
pencil
hammer
safety glasses
hearing protection
drill
compound miter saw
sander
level
countersink drill bit
General Instructions: 

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

Dimensions: 
Cut List: 

CUT LIST IS FOR 2 BENCHES CONVERTING TO ONE PICNIC TABLE

4 - 2x4 @ 28 7/8" (Back Legs - Both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, parallel to each other, long point to short point measurement)
4 - 2x4 @ 27" (Seat Support - Short point to short point measurement - both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, NOT parallel to each other)
4 - 2x4 @ 16 3/4" (Front Legs - Both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, parallel to each other, long point to short point measurement)
12 - 2x6 @ 47 7/8" (Seat and Tabletop boards)
4 - 2x6 @ 17" long (Tabletop Supports)
Cutting Instructions: 
Carefully cut all of your boards with a compound miter saw, or mark angles with a protractor and carefully cut with a circular saw.
Step 1: 

Additional dimensions shown above. We found that this table/bench was most comfortable as a bench. If you are expecting to use the convertible picnic table bench mostly as a picnic table, I suggest you first review our free as always picnic table plans. The wide seat when converted to a picnic table makes for climbing into the seat a tad more difficult than traditional picnic tables - but let me tell you, the wide seat as a bench is quite nice.

Another note, I choose to make the benches/convertible picnic table four feet long to conserve lumber.  Most adult sized picnic tables are six feet long.  You can make the benches/convertible picnic table longer, but depending on your use, you may wish to add supports.  See the final step for more on this.
Step 2 Instructions: 

First things first. From your back legs, drill 1/2" diameter holes as shown above, centered on the top. Drill on all four legs.

Step 3 Instructions: 

Lay the front leg over the bottom of the back leg, with bottom and outside edges flush. Trace the top edge - this will be the line that you will line your seat support top up with.

Lay the seat support on top of the legs as shown above and predrill holes and attach the seat support to the legs with 2 1/2" galvanized screws and wood glue.

You will need to make four of these. Make two with the seat support on the right and two with the seat support on the left - it does matter.

Step 4 Instructions: 

Mark all of the seat boards 2" from the ends. The seat boards overhang the legs by 2" on the outsides. Attach the seat boards to the legs, using 2 1/2" galvanized screws and wood glue. Adjust for square. Leave 1/4" gaps between the seat boards. Use one left and one right leg for each bench as shown above in the diagram.

Step 5 Instructions: 

On the 2x6 top support, drill a hole smack in the center, 1/2" diameter, as shown above. Then attach the tabletop boards to the long edge, exactly as you did the seat boards. The tabletop boards will overhang the top supports by 2" on outside ends. See below diagram.

Step 6 Instructions: 

Now that you have constructed the top, line the holes in the back legs up with the holes in the tabletop supports. Thread your 4" bolts through, add washer and nuts, and tighten.

Lay a level on top of the table, perpendicular to the tabletop boards. With the tabletop level (use a clamp to hold in place) drill holes through the back legs and the tabletop supports and insert a pin (you can just use another 1/2" bolt). Do this on both sides.

Step 7 Instructions: 

Remove the pins and rotate the tabletop so it becomes a backrest. Sit in the bench, and determine a comfy backrest position. When satisfied, clamp the tabletop supports to the back legs and drill another 1/2" diameter whole. Insert the pin. Do the same on both sides. To convert the benches to picnic tables, simply remove the pins and rotate the backrest to a tabletop, and reinsert the pins in the correct holes.

Step 8 Instructions: 

For those of you wishing for a longer convertible picnic table bench, above shows how you would use standard eight feet long boards for the tabletops, and simply add an extra leg in the center. You will also need to add a back brace as shown above.

Preparation Instructions: 
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Project Type: 
Estimated Cost: 
Room: 
Skill Level: 
Style: 

Comments

You are going to be shocked at really how easy this table is to build! We are so pleased with it, we are building two more (benches) to surround our firepit!

The other day I was driving down my street and I saw my neighbor lady building something. I drove back by later and saw she had built some awesome benches that seem to convert to a table....low and behold I open up facebook today and they are your plans! Awesome, I'm gonna have to go make friends with this neighbor and start some building parties! Thanks for all the free plans! You're awesome!

This design is amazing!
I just wanted to confirm the cut list vs. shopping list. You list 7- 2"x6"@8ft to purchase but the cut list says 12- 2x6@48 7/8 inches (that's 6 2x6@8ft) plus
4- 2x6@8ft for tabletop supports. That doesn't seem to jive with shopping list or the overall size of the table/bench.

I assume they should be 4- 2x6@17 inches- just want to get this right. I really love this plan.

thanks so much

Cut list has an error should be 12 2x6@47 7/8. I am traveling today will fix when I get to my computer. Thanks for catching this. Ana

sorry, I put 48 7/8, I meant 47 7/8 which is what you have- that part seems right. I wanted to clarify just the tabletop supports that are listed as 4- 2x6@8ft.

My apologies for making this more confusing by my error.

sorry, I put 48 7/8, I meant 47 7/8 which is what you have- that part seems right. I wanted to clarify just the tabletop supports that are listed as 4- 2x6@8ft.

My apologies for making this more confusing by my error.

Ana You Are Amazing!!!

I built this today using all scrap lumber that my boyfriend wanted to throw away. All I need to do is get larger bolts and decide on a finish. Yeah! I am obsessed with your website. THANKS!
Alisa

On the cut list I believe the following:

4 - 2x6 @ 8 feet long (Tabletop Supports)

Should should be 4 - 2x6 cut ten degree off square not parallel on each end to 17"(long side) (Tabletop Supports)

Auto complete will get you every time hey Ana?

My high school's football team mass produced these in shop class, painted them in school colors and sold them as a fund raiser. It was great to see them all out & about the community.

I love that for a fund raiser. It helps get young people involved in woodworking and beautifies the community at the same time. It also helps that I love this design. Wish I'd been clever enough to think of it myself.

Great stuff here!

Should the horizontal brace shown on the back rest/table side actually be on the seat side of the legs? I'm no expert, but the current way it looks like if the horizontal brace is there and it is converted to a table, wouldn't that hit your feet?

These are almost the Cottage Life Convertible Picnic Tables from April/May 2002.

The plan for this can be found at http://cottagelife.com/19841/diy/projects/our-top-10-projects - the plans include beautiful color photos of the projects (Bunkie, Outdoor Shower, Treehouse, BBQ prep station, Canoe/Kayak Rack, etc). The plans are free now thanks to Timbrmart.

Cottage Life has also put up a video of the Outdoor Shower with Wayne Lennox the author/builder at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxWUQKLzLaQ - very cool, especially the use of the pocket door.

We made these recently and I'm a little disappointed. They are somewhat wobbly. We love, love, love the way they function, but were wishing they were a little sturdier. We are planning on adding a brace underneath the seats where the seat meets the legs at an angle (the wood would be cut at 45 degrees on both ends and screwed in the corner). We are hoping this will help big time.
This is our first Ana White project and even though they are a little wobbly, I have a feeling we will be using more of her plans in the future.

I have been a fan for awhile....and every project makes me a bit braver to try and make some of these wonderful pieces...I am at the point of buying some tools and starting with a simple project...this bench/table project is the final straw..I need to get over the power tool fear and jump right in! Thanks for taking the time to have this website and give confidence to us dreamers!

I noticed that in the Step 3 Image it says to cut only one side of the back leg and leave the top square.

In the cut list it says to cut both ends at 10 degrees. I think it would be better to leave it square on the end as I cut them both at 10 degrees and the top on hits a tinny bit.

4 - 2x4 @ 28 7/8" (Back Legs - Both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, parallel to each other, long point to short point measurement)

I love the idea of this plan. So much so, that I am going to convert it a bit and make only half of it, to use as a kitchen table up against my wall. We have limited space in our kitchen and if I can use something like this for the kids to eat on but also for others to sit at comfortably, then it's a win win situation.

Thanks for the plans ANA

Per your instructions in Step 3, I attached the seat supports to the four legs using four screws per joint. I spaced the screws as widely as I could without being too close to the members' edges. The result is the joints are all insecure. I'm going to need to gusset them somehow to keep these joints from weakening further through movement over time.

My husband and I made this table as a Father's Day gift for my dad to use at his lake house and he absolutely loved it. Now we are working on one for ourselves. On the first table we used a weatherproofing outdoor stain all over. Beautiful by the way. We want a little more color for our table so I was thinking...painting, applying a water sealer, distressing, then using the outdoor stain on the distressed areas. Does this sound like the right steps? Suggestions anyone? You rock Ana!!

These worked great as benches but not so good as picnic tables. There was just not enough room to get your feet in. We removed the screws of the third 2x4 and then used a simple bolt as a pin from the side so that they can be removed for the picnic tables but replaced for the bench.

Any guess as to overall weight for one unit (half-table)?

Any input as to using 1x lumber instead of 2x - for the purpose of weight reduction and mobility for use as a stage prop?

Thanks,

Keith