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How to make a flat pack plywood Picnic table S-B-S

I actually got around to making some flat pack plywood picnic tables. As most regular OTG viewers already know, I'll be making about 10 of these as unique advertising media to publicly display my company's logo and contact details.

The picnic tables are made from a single sheet of plywood, take about 30 minutes to mark out, and about 1 hour to cut out. I've yet to get around to the sanding and painting, so I'll not quote any times for these two processes.

You will need a copy of the plans, which you can download and save from here:

To mark out the plywood, you'll need: a rule or tape measure, a pencil, a square, and a straight edge of about 4 feet long, or slightly longer.

I have used a cordless jigsaw for the rounded cuts, and cordless circular saw for the long straight cuts, but a jigsaw will be more than adequate for all the cutting requirements.  

Pay close attention to the plans: being prepared by an American they are slightly odd: following both a Centre Line set of dimensions, and Accumulated dimensions from the bottom edge of the sheet of plywood. The only really tricky part of the plans and the dimensioning is the long recesse in the seat support.

Note: I have used 18 mm thick shuttering  plywood rather than the recommended 1" thick plywood: so if you follow my lead here, you'll need to reduce the joint let ins from 1" to 18 mm.

Ready to mark out:

The sheet of plywood marked out and ready to cut:

The best results will be obtained by using a jigsaw blade that will cut on both the up, and down strokes, and is suitable for cutting curves. You will also need to set the reciprocating motion function of your jigsaw to either 0 or 1. A close up photo of a jigsaw blade that cuts on both the up and on the down strokes:

The first cuts to make are: The table top, seat tops, and seat supports, by doing these first, it'll make the remaining piece of plywood a more manageable size:

Then cut out the curved detailing:

You should end up with something that looks like this:

The next piece to cut out is the main support:

And then you can cut out the two end pieces:

When the plans say that you can make this flat pack picnic table from a single sheet of plywood, they weren't kidding. Here is all the off cuts and the pile of saw dust that I produced:

OK, I owe you all an apology now, as I forgot to take any photos of the assembly joints being cut out; this I'll rectify tomorrow when I make another picnic table. In the meantime, here is a photo Sammy, who works for me sat at the table that I made today:


I can envisage a neat pack as an optional extra with a Cargo Cycle!

Stanley wrote:
I can envisage a neat pack as an optional extra with a Cargo Cycle!

Cargo Cycles has been invited to several shows and events; notably the Norwich Cycling week, where we will have a (free) 250 sq/ft area to exhibit directly out side of the Forum from June 23rd- 27th. As I now live only 1 & 1/2 miles from the Forum, and the industrial unit is less than 2 miles from the Forum, we shall be delivering the stand each day using 4 Cargo Cycles and four bike trailers towed behind them. That will include four flat pack picnic tables for visitors to our stand to use while having a complimentary tea/coffee/soft drink. It has already been suggested that all four picnic tables be loaded onto one Cargo Cycle, and a "Benny Hill" style promo video be shot of the bike delivering the tables and the bike's rider then assembling them.

wow love the table thanks for showing , hope all goes great at the show photos please

I saw someone cycling round Norwich on a sort of tricycle with a great big sort of supermarket trolley on the front. Is it one of your creations?? Love Lizzie

Here are the promised photographs of the cut outs for the slip together joints:

The table end:

You will then need to cut out the hand grip; 2 in either end, and 1 in the table top:

The hand hold cut outs are 2 inches X 4 inches and are more than big enough for my gloved hands:

The main support:

Assemble your table;

Then turn the frame upside down and place it on the table top and centralise it. Cut 4 of these from two of the off-cuts left over to make the hold together clips:

Then glue and nail them to the table top only in each corner of the main support and table end like this:

It is now time to sand everything down and to round off any edges.

These flat-pack plywood picnic tables have been a God send this summer for both me personally and for for my business; Cargo Cycles.

They have been hauled around to various shows and events that I have attended, been used as canteen area in the unit for sammy and I. I've conducted business meetings sat at them. They've been loaned to my neighbours on the business estate for similar duties, have been borrowed by friends, etc. in a few weeks time the students allocated to me by the probation service will sit at them as I train them in City & Guilds mechanical fitting, and these tables have proven to be a very valuable advertising media and asset for me.

My six tables along with another 6-10, that I can borrow from my Church will be used during our house warming party in 3 weeks time; 40 odd guests, two bands, and 5 other performers.

I have however encountered an issue with them, not exactly a problem, but more of a niggle.

I had 3 very large ladies (and I mean very large; think 20 plus stones a piece) sit at one of my tables and eat their picnic during one show (and they weren't even interested in my products ), their combined weight sank the table legs almost 4 inches into a reasonably dry grass playing field, and I had one helluva job pulling the table out of the soil while Sammy, in fits of laughter stood by watching me.

I am lucky as I have a whole metalworking and woodworking workshop available for my every whim, and so the other day I fished out my 6 inch diameter hole saw and made some simple, but very effective plywood feet to spread the load, reduce the ground pressure, and prevent another situation of having to recover the sunken narrow legs of a table from the turf again.

OK I have used a hole-saw and a bench mounted pillar drill, but a jigsaw and pistol drill are more than adequate to make a set feet similar to the ones that I have made.

That is fantastic and so effecient.
Celtic Eagle

Very cool Gareth Like the feet idea

The picnic tables have been taken out of winter storage: under a plastic sheet in the garden.

All has faired well: no damp timbers, no warped boards, no splits or other problems, even the paint work looks good but will require a wipe down with a soapy cloth to clean away a few water marks and settled dust.

I just thought I would bump this thread back up to the top again.

Our plywood picnic tables are two years old now, and have coped exceptionally well with the rigors of several local shows, 4 church fetes, 3 parties in the park, 2 music festivals, 1 firework display, several parties (at ours and at friends), have been loaned out on a few occasions, and we have enjoyed many alfresco meals, BBQs, and evenings sat at them. Last night we enjoyed our first meal of this summer with friends sat at one of them.

They are quick and simple to make, and are extremely robust. With the bank holiday weekend almost upon us (and the rest of the summer) there is still the chance of nipping out to the timber merchants or DIY store to buy a sheet of Plywood, and within a couple hours, you could be enjoying a BBQ or drinks in your garden sat at one of these tables.

Lois has recently encouraged me to repaint ours with a more subtle gloss green than the original bright gloss Melon Yellow that I used.

The first one has been repainted a mid green. and the second one will be repainted Brunswick green.

A mad dog and an Englishman out in the midday sun sanding down one of our tables:

Repainted and finished in glosss mid (Pea) Green:


That looks swish!  

Well that looks the part   really smart.

I have just noticed that the original direct link to the plans is is broken.

Here is the new link:

and if that should become broken or not work in the future, here is the PDF file for you to download and print off

Click to download file

Thanks Gareth

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