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Thread: Outdoor Table Design?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    116

    Outdoor Table Design?

    I'm looking to build several outdoor tables for my pub. They will be outdoors all year round, but under a covered patio, so no direct water. (Well, spilled beer, but not rain).

    I'd like to avoid gaps in the boards if possible (a-la picnic table) or at the least minimize these gaps. Region is central Texas.
    Anyone have ideas?

    Another consideration is that I'd like the tops to be as flat as possible as much board-gaming is done on these tables.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    8,705
    So the requirements are: flat, no gaps; and pretty water resistant. Formica on plywood would fill those requirements.

  3. #3
    I'm in the Dallas area so I know the weather here. For an outdoor table the sun would be the only issue and if it's covered a table should be easy enough. Still anytime you have furniture outdoors you have to keep an eye on it and give it maintenance when necessary. You know eventually someone will be carving on the table with a knife. As long as these places are repaired when ever you find them you should be alright. It would be best if you would choose a wood that does well outdoors anyway. You could use pressure treated pine as long as the wood was dried first. It comes from the factory dripping wet and if it's not dry a finish won't adhere and also the wet wood is prone to warp. I'm doing just a deck for someone right now that I purchased the wood and stacked and stickered the wood and allow it to dry a month before I do the job. If you want a nicer wood you might use white oak. White oak hold up well outdoors where red oak turns black and rots easily if gotten wet.

    There really isn't any reason you have to have gaps in the top. As long as you allow for wood movement you can glue up an entire picnic table top in one piece. Over time the width of the top will shrink and you have to mount the top in a manor that the top is allowed to shrink.

    For a finish wood outdoors experiences more wood movement than interior wood so you need a finish that is elastic enough to deal with that movement. A marine grade spar varnish would be a good finish for that application. Epifanes is the best. It is available at places that sell boat supplies. A cheaper spar I've had good luck with is Cabot spar varnish. I'm able to get it at the Lowe's near me.

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