Picnic Table #1: Intro

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While going through my favorite pictures I remember this table: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/51352

I thought now is the time to try and build it.
The post has some details, I will need to figure the rest. That’s what I love to do.

I am going to divide this blogs into several short ones for clarity. the first 2 will be posted in succession as they are done. The other sections as the build progress.

I posted a request for help here:http://woodworkingweb.com/topics/86-making-a-form-for-an-arch and has gotten some great tips (thanks!)

The legs of table are arched and are the most differentiating pieces of the table and would probably determine the rest of the dimensions; so I decided to start by building the legs first.

I made the following assumptions for the dimensions:

-Height the picnic table should be between 28" and 32"
-For outdoor table I wanted the top to be 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" thick, 36" wide and most likely 6’ long.
-I will need a transition piece to attach the top to the arches; I decided that piece would about 5 to 6" in height.
-The base of the legs will be 3″×3″ (cross cut dimensions)

I also made the following decision: I will not buy any wood so that I would use some leftovers 2×4 I saved from a mezzanine we had to take down at work. That means my table will not have some beautiful wood but Douglas fir construction grade with cracks and stress instead.
From reading about outdoor longevity of Douglas Fir, I gather it won’t last long.
What I am sure of, it will be a great learning project.

From that mezzanine I saved a bunch of 2×4, 2×6 and 6 pieces of 4×4, 1 piece of 16’ 4×6 beam and also a shorter section of about 70" and 1 piece of 16’ 4×8 beam.
I also have some Ikea closet panels from the apartment days that I saved.
I also figure the laminate would come from either one of the beams. I settled on the 4×6.

Given the above, The radius of the legs should be around 26"

another method to arriving at the radius is illustrated in the following picture. Because I don’t have a totally frontal picture this is approximate:

Since I am building without plan and since this is my first lamination bending of this size, I am certain dimensions will change a bit during the build.
The only thing I will try to maintain is the total height of the table and the height of the attached benches.

Onto the Form..

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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I saw one of your other blogs on this interesting picnic table Ian and so I’m starting from the beginning. From a construction point of view this a pretty smart design which eliminates a lot of the cross bracing found in the usual designs.

I built a ‘regular’ picnic table for one of my sons 16 years ago out of Douglas fir. I didn’t use treated wood and it still looks almost like new to this day. It has been maintained well though with regular applications of outdoor oil finish and I think yours should do well too. Your main concern might be the laminated legs, but that might not be an issue with the right glue.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

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