Home ProjectsExterior Table for 8, or 2! How To Build An Outdoor Dining Table

Table for 8, or 2! How To Build An Outdoor Dining Table

by Amber

If you have looked at our house tour then you have seen that we don’t have a dining room table currently.  We have a small kitchen table that works great for Daniel and I, but not so much for entertaining.  Since I generally embrace my introverted-ness it may be surprising to you that we entertain a lot, and a table for four doesn’t work well for that. Daniel has hit his, no dining table limit, and told me I really needed to decide on a dining table, so I did.  Little did he know it was going to be outside on the porch. It’s where we prefer to spend most of our time anyways.  Before we knew it we found chairs, and were on the way to Lowe’s one Saturday afternoon in the beginning of Spring to buy materials.

TABLE PLAN

This is the general idea that we had for our table, however, we planned the entire table around the chairs that we found before starting.  Since we were going with such a simple table, and had to work around our chairs, we didn’t really seek out much of a plan.  We looked at the table in our kitchen, and work bench we were gifted in the garage, and based it around those.  This is a drawing of what we did for you to better understand.

I have a personal pet peeve whenever a chair doesn’t completely push under a table, I know some people love the look but my OCD can’t take it (which is why we still don’t have a formal dining table).  Therefore before starting on the table I wanted to find chairs.  The search started for the dining room table inside, and since I’m wanted a very similar look for our outdoor table, I changed gears at some point along the way and here we are.

I searched all my favorite places; World Market, Pottery Barn, Home Goods, Target, Wayfair, Restoration Hardware, Amazon, the list goes on and on.  My favorite outdoor chairs were at Target but the back seemed really low when I tried them out at the store and I wasn’t convinced.  After a few weeks of searching I was coming up empty handed. I liked some, but wasn’t in love with anything. I also wasn’t crazy about ordering something online and trying to return them if they did not work out.  This was until the day we went to buy Cooper, my dog, a kiddie pool.  Since the temperatures reach the high 80’s starting in April it is a good way for him to cool off while we do yard work.

We walked into the outdoor section of our local Wal-Mart for the pool (you can see it in the background of the photo below) and the chairs were sitting in the front of the store, as soon as we walked in.  Daniel immediately goes over to them and says, “Isn’t this what you were looking for?”, and it was!  We both sat in them for a few minutes and decided they were perfect.  They are $27.00 each so we purchased 5 and headed home.  These are the chairs.  Side note: We learned that Wal-Mart to compete with Amazon sometimes has lower prices online, and will price match anything from their website in store if you show them.

We planned to add a bench to the other side which is why we originally only purchased 5.  After building the table and really thinking about the bench we decided to go back and get 3 more chairs.  I really love the look of a bench but I really hate sitting on one, I much prefer a chair.  I always get stuck in the middle, and when hosting I constantly am on the move. It was more than I wanted to spend on chairs but we really liked them and have already used them multiple times to entertain.  We also eat outside every night now, as long as it isn’t raining.  This alone made it well worth the money!

BUILDING THE TABLE

First we went to Lowe’s and purchased the following:

  • 1 – 4x4x12
  • 4 – 2x4x8 (we cut these down to 2×2 since a 2×2 isn’t actually 2 inches by 2 inches)
  • 3 – 2x2x8 (actual size of a 2×2 is a 1.4×1.4, to avoid confusion I call these 1×1 in this post)
  • 4 – 2x10x10- NOT pressure treated, I learned this the hard way!

We also used the following items/ tools that we already had:

  • 2 inch Kreg screws
  • 2 1/2 inch Kreg screws
  • Grip Rite 2-1/2″x9 exterior wood screws
  • Grip Rite 3″x9 exterior wood screws
  • Drill
  • Table Saw
  • Kreg Jig
  • Miter Saw
  • Level
  • Square
  • Tape Measure
  • Sander

When we shop for lumber in Lowe’s we make a point to find the straightest and best looking boards that we can.  For this project we felt the width of the 2x10s would create the best looking table top. Before purchasing the boards, we laid all the boards on the floor beside each other to make sure that I was happy with the way the boards looked together for the top.  We have learned that doing so cuts down on the number of trips and returns we make to Lowe’s, which saves a lot of time and frustration when DIY-ing.

We started by cutting down the 4×4 post to size.  Each post is 28 inches long.  We then cut the 2x4s that we needed for all sides of the table to the length.  Two were 25 inches and the other two were 77 inches.  Next, we used the table saw to rip our 2x4s down to 2x2s to ensure that the chairs would be able to fit under the table since they have arms that are about 26 inches from the ground.  I am also very short so I didn’t want the table to be any taller than 31 inches so I could be comfortable when we play games and eat.  If you don’t have arms on your chairs or don’t have a table saw to cut down the 2×4, just be sure to plan for the height of the table before starting.  You want to be sure that your guests can easily get in and out of the chair and have enough leg room when sitting down.  This was the start of the layout.

Next, we used our Kreg Jig to add pocket holes to the sides of the 2x2s.  This was done so you couldn’t see any screws when looking at the table, and so we could attach the 2×2 to the side of the 4×4, not in front of it.  After all the pocket holes were created we used 2.5 inch Kreg screws to attach the 2x2s to the 4x4s.  When attaching we used a square tool on the corner of the 4×4 to ensure we got our corners square. 

This is before cutting the center supports once they were screwed in.  The arrows on the ends of the 2×2’s were for us when we were using the Kreg Jig to be sure we put them all on the correct side, you can never be to careful.

Next we cut the 1x1s.  We measured the inside of the table, that was 29 inches wide and 81 inches long, so we decided that 5 supports should work.  We cut 5 – 1x1s to 29 inches long and used the Kreg Jig to add pocket holes to three of them.  We screwed two directly into the 4x4s with 3 inch exterior wood screws and screwed the other three supports into the 2x2s with 2 inch Kreg screws.  We originally put a support in the middle, but decided we wanted the table to have an umbrella after the table was assembled, so we ended up moving the center support over an inch to drill the hole for the umbrella.  This was the base after it was completed, before moving the center support.

Once the table base was all screwed together we flipped it over and made sure to tighten all the screws.  This is a close up of the corner.At this point we carried the base to the back porch so that it wasn’t really heavy going up the stairs. I recommend this step if you have to move the table very far from where you are building it, to where it will go.  We then laid the 2x10s on the top to decide how long we wanted the top to be. We also made sure we had the same amount of overhang on all sides.  Once they were in place we used 2-1/2 inch wood screws to attach them to the base.  This is what the underside of the table looked like.

Yay!! We have a useable table!! We attached the top boards and the very next day we had Daniel’s family over for a cookout.  At this cookout we realized we needed an umbrella, it was HOT and still only April. This wasn’t going to work in the summer! We also realized that in order to get an umbrella we would need to move the center support over a little.  We simply backed out the screws, moved it down an inch, and screwed it back in before drilling the hole for the umbrella, I touched on this in the beginning but this is when we actually completed this step.  We used a 1-3/4 inch hole saw bit and drilled a hole in the center of the table, more on this later. This is the table with the umbrella at this phase.

We purchased the umbrella from Target.  It is the 6.5’x10′ rectangular patio umbrella by Threshold in navy, and we love it!! We didn’t find a small umbrella stand at Target so we ran into Home Depot, which is very close to it, and picked up the stand that you see under the table in the image below.  

We needed the base to be small enough to fit between the chair legs.  As you see above it was perfect!

Next, we cut the ends off the table.  Treated lumber is often discolored or uneven on the ends, because of this, we decided to cut off the ends.  You can see below just how discolored some of the boards were.

Let me stop right here and give you some friendly advice so you don’t have to start over like me… DO NOT USE PRESSURE TREATED WOOD FOR THIS!!! Lesson learned the hard way!!! I’m skipping a few steps but this is why…

This happened for a number of different reasons; boards were wet, pressure treated, heat, rain, and I’m sure other reasons as well but lets just say I wanted to cry when I came home from work to see this!! Sooooo what did we do? STARTED OVER! Insert tears here! That’s okay because now I can share this information with you and hopefully you won’t make the same mistake.  So we used untreated lumber this time! We used 2x10x10s. We cut them down to size immediately, we wanted to be sure we could get a clean edge so we went with the longer board.  We cut the boards to 100 inches long.

We prepped them to be stained and painted by sanded them. We started with 80 grit, followed by 120 grit, and finished with 220 grit sand paper.  This made the surface really smooth and easy to stain/ paint.

STAIN AND PAINT

For the top of the table we used Minwax Dark Walnut stain.  I applied the stain with an angle brush and made sure to be very careful to avoid runs on the sides and puddles on the top.  You want to be sure to get a very even thin coat.  Once the tops and sides were finished and dried I flipped the boards over and stained the bottom.  Be sure to read the back of the can to ensure proper application and dry times.

Once the stain dried for 24 hours I started applying the clear coat.  I used MinWax Helmsman Spar Urethane in a clear satin finish with an angled paint brush. 

Following the directions on the back of the can I applied 3 coats of this to the top and sides first.  It recommends applying the 1st coat, waiting at least 4 hours for that to dry, lightly sanding with 220 grit, applying 2nd coat, wait at least 4 hours to dry, lightly sand with 220 grit, and lastly apply final coat.  Once all three were applied then I let them dry for 48 hours before doing the same thing to the bottom.

So that they dried better and so it was easier to stain I put them on top of paint cans in our garage, it made getting to the sides a lot easier!  It also helps keep garage dirt and dust from getting on your boards!

For the base of the table we used Valspar Ultra Exterior semi-gloss, paint + primer in one, white paint.  I wanted to make sure that I had some separation from all the wood on the deck.  I also just like the stained and painted look.  I put down a drop cloth and used a roller to apply the paint over the entire thing before the boards were installed.

FINISHING THE TABLE

Once the boards were all finished and beautiful we attached them to the table.  We used 2-1/2 exterior wood screws and drilled each one from the bottom of the table.  You will need to have weight on the table top for this, Daniel laid on the ground and I sat on the table while he screwed it together, it worked out.  After the table is secured into place we had to drill the hole for the umbrella.  We used a 1 3/4 inch hole saw bit with our drill and measured directly 50 inches from the end to find center since the table is 100″ long.  It looks like this…

After the hole was cut I grabbed the stain and quickly stained inside the hole.  I used a tiny paint brush and it didn’t even take 5 minutes.  We let the stain dry for 5 hours and then I added the satin clear coat.  This time I did it much differently, since it was 95 degrees here I let it dry for an hour between each coat and added 3 coats total.  I also didn’t sand in between coats.  I let it dry for 24 hours, added the umbrella and we were done!

FINISHED TABLE

Ta Da!! We have a finished table that didn’t take a lot of time to build (if you do it correctly the first time) and didn’t cost a lot of money, the table that is!  Now that being said, we purchased the chairs in phases, completed the project in phases, and are going to use our mistake wood to build a firewood shelter later on, thus making the final cost of the entire set up a little more manageable.  It was also spread out over about a month (more like 2 when you include my wood mess up).  The final size of the table is 30″x30″x 100″.

Our cost breaks down as follows:

  • Lumber: $90.17 ($9.63 for 2x10s + other lumber)
  • Screws: $8.24
  • Stain/ Paint: $23.97
  • Chairs: $216
  • Umbrella: $95.99 (scored it on sale)
  • Umbrella base: $30.98
  • Total table cost: $122.38
  • Total look cost before tax: $484.36

Do remember that we had some of the materials, outside of the lumber, that we used already on hand.  $122.38 is not bad for a solid wood table that is over 8 feet long.  Now that we have the patio finished and the deck finished we can really start to enjoy this space. Its the perfect summer addition.  Daniel reminds me everyday that I need to find an inside dining table before winter weather arrives! Wish me luck!

     

We decided to go with navy and white accents on the deck to help tie the patio and deck together, this is a better idea of what they look like together as well as some before photos from our deck/ patio this February.  Both spaces have had a pretty big makeover.

These chairs were originally on the patio but during the update we moved them up here and picked up the cute little garden stool from Lowe’s.These are some good before and after shots of the deck.

Let me know if you have an questions. The lesson learned from this newbie wood worker; don’t use pressure treated wood for the top!

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