August 15, 2013

Compact Child's Picnic Table

The countdown to Baby Conaway #2 is reaching the final stretch. Courtney is in full-blown nesting mode, which is bad news for me and good news for anyone who regularly visits this online oasis of both mental and verbal diarrhea.

Bad news = more projects for me
Good news = more project photos for you

We're basically done with the baby's nursery, so I've got a nice reserve of projects to blog about in the coming weeks.

Campbell is in the early stages of the Terrible Twos - a concept I formerly refused to admit existed. But, I'm here to tell you, my friends - it exists and it's awful. She still has her adorable moments, no doubt. But she can go from angelic to "OH MY GOD WHY DID YOU JUST TAKE A BITE OUT OF MY EAR?!" in about 3 seconds flat.

Sure, having a little brother around will probably help her adjust to sharing and being responsible and blah, blah, blah down the road, but right now all I can think of is the first moment this will happen:

Or, when family photo time rolls around, this:

So, we've got that going for us. Hey I get it - I'm a little brother myself. I understand the life-altering change that's about to rock Campbell's longer being the center of attention. My sister's solution? Intentionally drop me on my head and hope for the best. It didn't work, by the way.

Only time will tell how Campbell copes, but I have a feeling it'll be a rough ride at first.

As for the sharing, Courtney and I have to start thinking in twos now. Not the terrible kind, but the number of kids. So, when I was thinking of birthday gift ideas for my mom (and soon-to-be grandparent of two), I thought - why not make a play table for the kids?

That'll give them a place to eat, draw and wage epic standoffs over earth-shattering debates like who gets to play with the red Play-Doh.

Seeing as how my parents didn't have room in their house for a large space-eating table and chairs set, I embarked on the journey of customizing a picnic table for two. Why a picnic table? Because I hate making chairs, that's why. Not all of my ideas are based in creativity or functionality, ok? Sometimes it just boils down to plain red-blooded American laziness.

Here's how it turned out. If you're so inclined, you can keep reading for more photos and details about the process.

How I Made It:
To keep it lightweight (and less expensive), I used 1"x4" boards for everything except the tabletop and bench seats, which were made from 1"x8" boards. And that's where I started. I used a Kreg jig to attach the three tabletop boards to each other with pocket screws. Here is a great summary on how to use a Kreg jig.

Once I had that done, I cut and attached my tabletop supports, mitering the ends inward at 45 degrees.

Next, I cut my legs to the length I wanted them, mitered both ends at 30 degrees, and attached them to the inside of my top supports (flush with the underside of the tabletop.

That got me to this point:

Then I added my bench seat supports. Notice in the below photo that I didn't cut the length to size before attaching them - that was intentional. I didnt yet know how much space I wanted to leave between the leg and the front end of the bench board. This allowed me to dry-fit a 1x8, mark its placement and then make the cuts (inward at 45 degrees).

I added a center support for stability. Finding the center of each bench support and used screws to hold it in place.

Placing the bench board in line with the marks I made early on the bench supports, I screwed it into place. I used a straight edge and pencil to mark the width of the support so I made sure my screws found it underneath.

Then it was ready for paint and stain. I think the color I used was Farrow & Ball Cooking Apple Green. The stain for the top and the seats was Minwax Ipswitch Pine. I finally coated the whole thing with gloss water-based polyurethane - 2 coats on the painted surfaces and 4 coats on the stained surfaces.

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