I Can Do That: A Picnic of a Build

Urban chic. This pine table is destined for the dining
room – but throw on a coat of spar varnish or exterior
paint (or use pressure-treated lumber), and it will serve
well on the deck, too.

This table is a picnic to build with dimensional lumber, screws and bolts.

I’m usually not intimidated by undertaking projects. We need some artwork for the new apartment? I can paint some vivid, abstract oil paintings. Hair is not the way I wanted it? I’ll trim it. Not the right color? I’ll dye it. Shirt too loose? Hand-stitch it. We need a dining room table? Well … I’ll drive us to Ikea.

The odd thing was, I shouldn’t have been intimidated about making something. I’m not a fan of measurements, but I can use them when necessary. Making a picnic table is a large project, true, but it wasn’t the size – or the numbers – that was intimidating.

It was the saws. And the splinters. What if I cut off a finger? What if I drilled through my palm like some sort of nightmarish woodshop stigmata scene? After telling my irrational and oddly descriptive fears to step aside, my husband, David, and I stepped into the Popular Woodworking Magazine shop. We went over some safety tips, reviewed the design for the table and got to work.

The miter saw was the hardest thing for me to get over. Sure it looks innocent, but the idea of pulling the sharp, quickly rotating blade down and toward myself seemed foolish, if not downright dangerous. I discovered that the key was to go slow. Not only did this make it easier and give me more control, it also made for a much cleaner cut.