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.

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

120 grit sandpaper
primer
wood conditioner
paint
paint brush
Tools: 
measuring tape
square
pencil
hammer
safety glasses
hearing protection
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: 

Wood Tilt Out Trash or Recycling Cabinet

Solid wood tilt out trash cabinet or recycling cabinet. Easy to build, fully framed, open back, fits standard trash cans.

Author Notes: 

I ran into a friend of mine the other day, and after the normal how are yous, she looked at me straight, and said, "Ana, HOW are you?" 

 "I'm great . . . what do you mean?" I asked. 
 And she said, "I read your blog, and I've noticed that you haven't been posting as often, and was just wondering if everything is okay with you." 
 I was quite touched that my friend took her time to read my blog faithfully enough to know that I have not been posting six . . . sometimes seven . . . days a week, and even more touched that she would stop me to make sure everything is okay. 
That evening when I was putting hinges on this very trash bin cabinet, I thought about our conversation in the condiment aisle. Is something wrong? 
As I closed the door on this trash bin for the first time, and stood back and inspected the finished project, I got goosebumps all over. 
No, nothing's wrong, because even after all these years and hundreds of pieces of furniture built, I still get goosebumps over a completed project. My passion for what I do is very much alive and well. 
But you see, a few months back when our site was crashing all the time, I got a few quotes from web design companies and I just could not afford to spend $20,000 on a website, and wait three months for the work to be done.

But I knew that there was $20,000 of work to be done on the site. 

So I sat my family down for a business meeting. I estimated that for the next three weeks, I would need to work long long long hours, and I would need the help of my husband and daughter to make this happen. Because I decided to take on the job of not just building a new site for our plans, but also learning how to build a website, and migrating hundreds of posts and plans.
And I made a deal with my preschool daughter. I promised her after I finished the new website, I would spend less time in my office on the computer, and more time with her. 
Well, the website is done, and she's holding me to our deal. 
I want to be doing what I'm doing for many many years. But in order to keep the goosebumps coming, I've got to find balance, to remember the reason I build - to make a better life for my family.

So I've set more modest goals, to post when I can, to not stress about posting when I cannot. I hope you understand, and I thank those of you who would stop me in the condiment aisle if you lived in our tiny town in Alaska.

All is perhaps better than ever.
Shopping List: 

2 - 1x12 @ 6 feet long
1 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
2 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
Narrow Hinges (the cheapo kind with flat headed screws)
Knob or Pull

2 inch screws
1 1/4 inch finish nails
2 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
primer
wood conditioner
paint
paint brush
Tools: 
measuring tape
square
pencil
safety glasses
hearing protection
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: 
Dimensions shown above. Fits trash can less than 16" wide x 22" high x 12" deep overall.
Cut List: 

2 - 1x12 @ 29 1/4"
1 - 1x12 @ 19"
1 - 1x12 @ 17 1/2"
2 - 1x3 @ 19"
3 - 1x2 @ 19"
2 - 1x2 @ 26" (Back)
2 - 1x2 @ 25 1/4" (Front)

DOOR
Door Slab overall 1/4" less than opening
1 - 1x12 @ 12" cut in half diagonally
1 - 1x12 the width of the door (approximately 15 3/4")

Step 1: 

Use either a Kreg Jig or 2" screws or finish nails to build your box as shown above. The bottom shelf is 2 1/2" from the bottom, at the top. So leave 1 3/4" gap underneath the bottom shelf. Check for square.

Step 2 Instructions: 

Once your box is done, choose the less attractive side and attach trim as shown above. I used 1 1/4" finish nails and glue.

Step 3 Instructions: 

Now the sides on the back. You can also choose to cover the back in 1/4" plywood, but I personally wanted an easy means of both changing trash bags and cleaning the cabinet out. So my trash bin is actually open on the back.

Step 4 Instructions: 

Now the front. I like to cut footers out in place because you don't have to worry about clamping it down or anything like that. Nail down and then mark as shown in the diagram (you can click images for a larger view) and cut out with a jigsaw.

Step 5 Instructions: 

Now the back side trim.

Step 6 Instructions: 

And the front. Notice that the top has a 3/4" gap. This is good.

Step 7 Instructions: 

Finally the front edge. Nail and glue in place. This completes the cabinet construction.

Step 8 Instructions: 

I used a new technique to build a raised panel door for this project! But I'd like to get that content to you in the form of video, so please be patient - will get that tutorial posted in the next day or so.

You should always build your doors to fit your openings - especially for inset doors. For inset doors, I like to leave an 1/8" gap around all sides of the door, so that means you need to make the door overall 1/4" less wide and 1/4" less tall than the opening.

You can use other methods to build the door - a full slab for a modern look or beadboard on a 1x3 frame for a cottage look.

Build the base as shown above, securing to the door.

Step 9 Instructions: 

And then just hinge the door to the cabinet. For our tilt out trash cabinet/recycle center, we didn't even have to worry about a magnetic catch - the weight of the tilt out base keeps everything closed nicely.

However, you may need to install either hardware or a chain to keep the tilt out door from opening all the way and bruising your toes :)

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.
Estimated Cost: 
Room: 
Skill Level: 
Style: 

Harriet Outdoor Dining Chair for Small Modern Spaces

A modern style outdoor dining chair that is both easy and inexpensive to build. Works with the Harriet Outdoor Table to create an inexpensive solid wood dining set. Features slatted seat and back, additional base supports.

Author Notes: 

Yesterday, it was plans for the no excuses solid wood outdoor dining table for small spaces. Today, the matching chair.

And it's just as easy to build, just as sturdy and solid, and just as fresh and modern looking.  (excuse our deck - we are still waking up to frost)
This chair is actually a modification of one of my absolute favorite chair plans - The Harriet Chair.  I love this design particularly because it's such a sturdy simple chair, so easy and inexpensive to build.  
But I think with this set, I'm most fond of the finish.  I took the time to fill every single imperfection/hole with wood filler and sanded sanded sanded.  Then it was primer (we used a sprayer) and high gloss enamel in Ultra Pure White by Valspar. Can you believe that these boards are furring strips?  That those wood slats are 1x3s on sale for $1.48 a stick?  
Of course, if you are looking for a non painted finish, you should consider cedar or other weather resistant wood (wouldn't that be beautiful, aged silver cedar).  And whatever you decide, make sure you properly seal the wood with an outdoor topcoat. 
Shopping List: 

2 - 2x2 @ 8 feet long
2 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long (you may be able to get away with one, but it's a good idea to buy a little extra to account for the saw blade and give you flexibility to cut around cracks, knots, or other imperfections)

2 inch screws
2 1/2 inch screws
120 grit sandpaper
primer
wood conditioner
paint
paint brush
Tools: 
measuring tape
square
pencil
safety glasses
hearing protection
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: 
Designed to work with the Harriet Outdoor Table
Cut List: 

2 - 2x2 @ 17 7/8" (Back Legs - both ends cut at 15 degrees off square, parallel to each other)
2 - 2x2 @ 13 7/16" (Side Aprons - one end cut at 15 degrees off square, longest point measurement)
2 - 2x2 @ 17 1/4" (Front Legs)
1 - 2x2 @ 13" (Front Apron)
8 - 1x3 @ 16" (Seat Slats)
2 - 2x2 @ 15 5/8" (One end cut at 15 degrees off square, longest point measurement given)
2 - 2x2 @ 20 1/2" (Back Rest)
1- 2x2 @ 10" (Back Base Support)

Step 1: 

Before we get into the actual plan details, let's talk about joinery. I have decided to add pocket holes to diagrams for those of you who use a Kreg Jig, but that does not mean that you have to use pocket holes. If you do use pocket holes for this project, set your Kreg Jig for 1 1/2" stock and use 2 1/2" pocket hole screws. I find it hard to add more than 1 pocket hole on a 2x2 - certainly not impossible, but I find wood starts to split out and such - but you need to make up for the lone screw with lots of glue.

If you are using traditional screws, countersink from the outsides carefully with a countersink bit and use 2 1/2" or 3" screws. Then general rule is to use the longest screw possible without poking through. Again, use glue. 
 For the first step, you will need to build two as shown above.
Step 2 Instructions: 

Then attach the two legs to the center as shown in the diagram.

Step 3 Instructions: 

Now the slats. My trick is to use a piece of 1/4" scrap plywood as a spacer as I screw down the slats. By screwing from underneath, you will not have to worry about holes in your seat.

Step 4 Instructions: 

In the original Harriet Chair Plan, we put the supports in first. But I found this left little room for my drill - not a problem for the original Harriet Chair with the solid seat, but with the slatted seat, you need considerably more screws, so I choose to add the support after the slats. Measure carefully and attach in place.

Step 5 Instructions: 

Now construct the back as shown above.

Step 6 Instructions: 

And add the back slats. The overhang should be 1 1/2" on each end, 1 1/4" to the top. Leave 1/4" gap between the slats. There is no reason why you could not add additional slats if you wanted - I really considered three back slats.

Step 7 Instructions: 

And the fun part. Attach the back to the seat.

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: 

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