Monday, May 25, 2009

Favorites, Part 3: The "Picnic Table"

On a whim, after seeing something vaguely similar, I decided to build a little picnic table between the posts of our (still unfinished) arbor. It's smaller than a standard picnic table, but can still seat our whole family. It's also in close proximity to the clothesline, so it can double as a laundry folding area. Or a planting bench. Or a platform for Amelia to play with her random collection of objects, or a shady spot for the cat & chickens, or a sunset viewing station, or any of the other sundry things a table is good for.

Since I was working with the existing posts, the dimensions of the table were pretty non-negotiable. I made the table top out of 2x4's. I wanted something wider, partly for aesthetic reasons, and partly for less screwdriving. But as I will never understand dimensional lumber, I had to go with 2x4's to make it work.

I may start referring to dimenional lumber as pan-dimensional lumber, because it makes no sense in this realm. I mean, a 2x4, as you may or may not know, is not 2 inches by 4 inches. It's 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches. You lose a half inch each way, and you gain a math headache in trying to fill a fixed space. One might think that 2x6 boards would be half again as wide as 2x4's, and that 2x8's would be twice as wide. But you'd be wrong on both counts. You lose 1/2 inch on the smaller boards, and 3/4 of an inch on the wider ones. It all seems very arbitrary.

I thought about going with a mix of sizes for a more rustic look, but the mixed fractions were giving me a headache.

At any rate, it still needs some screws, and a coat of stain or something to keep it from rotting away, but I'm pretty happy with it as an improvised, one weekend project. It was also a lot of fun to work with e5 on something, and let him do some of the actual labor.

Now if I can just finish that arbor....




At 5/25/2009 10:25 AM, Blogger Wendy said...

Good lookin' table! We found one in a dumping area in a near-by subdivision and brought it home. It needs a couple of repairs and some paint, but otherwise, it's a nice table. We even used it the other day ;).

At 5/27/2009 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice! My dear sister-in-law calls those "men's measurements" since if it were up to use a 2x4 actually would be 2x4. How'd you do the seats? The look like they are floating on air.

At 5/28/2009 10:16 AM, Blogger network_weasel said...

I was once told that the missing half inch was so that when drywall (half inch is one of the commo sizes used) was added to a wall framed with 2x4s the dimensions would be correct. That said, I can not find anything online to support that explanation. I did find a fun variety of explanations ranging from it was 2x4 when it was first cut (and shrinks after drying) to a variety of theories surrounding the types of saw blades used at the lumber mill. Find one you like and stick to it!

At 5/28/2009 3:50 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Anon - I guess you can't see it in either photo, but the benches are supported by Playstar picnic table brackets. They are basically heavy-duty plastic triangles that are anchored to the post - you can see them in this photo:

At 5/29/2009 9:51 PM, Blogger Suzer said...

My husband is a carpenter and here is the explanation for the random and seemingly mindless measurements... Back in the day, 2x4's really were 2x4. Modern technology has since proven that a lesser board would be sufficiently load bearing so in order to save trees or to turn a larger profit (depending on your level of cynicism) they began to mill the boards smaller. But like many things, the original name stuck (think Frigidare, or Astroturf). So thanks to modern technology your house and or picnic table is saving forests and causing brain damage all at the same time.

At 5/30/2009 8:28 PM, Blogger JBTW said...

Is that where they got the idea to make ice cream containers smaller (but cost the same, if not more)?

I like your "not quite 2x4" table work!


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