74. Driftwood Picnic Table

Beachcombing is fun. Building things is fun. Not spending money is fun. Having feasts with friends and family on our new patio is super fun.driftwood table set

We get to do all four of these fun things here in This Green Life.

For the past year I’ve been combing the beaches for weathered planks and posts for a skookum table. These gifts from the sea might be parts of storm-beaten wharves from who knows where. They are often cedar, and often peppered with big ol’ bolts and holes and hardware. If I can’t haul them to the truck myself, I coerce Tess or D into helping me. Some of my “Point Sister” friends are even on the hunt for good pieces for my projects.

I have collected quite a nice pile of planks, all different shapes and sizes. And, therein lies the difficulty.beachwood

When you buy building materials, you buy what you need in the sizes/species you need. When you harvest from the beach, you get a hodgepodge to work with. There are 4 x 12s, 4x6s, 4x4s, 3x9s, 2x12s, 3 1/2 x 5s – well you get the idea. Some are rotten in the middle, and some are rotten at the ends.

Tess agreed to help me build the table. Or rather, she agreed to let me help her, since she did all the hard stuff, like screwing in the big lag bolts. Tess is one strong woman (in more ways than one!)

It took us one weekend to choose, design, audition, cut, and lay out the components.driftwood table pieces

We decided that the length of the table would have to be determined by the shortest solid piece, and cut the other boards to that length. Since we didn’t really have enough long pieces for a feast-sized table, I decided to put the big solid 4x12s across the ends, to bring the size up.table end planks

Our biggest design dilemma was how to assemble all these different thicknesses. We placed the pieces upside-down on the flat driveway, so that all the tops would be on the same plane, and cut spacers for between our frame and the planks. mocked up table

Tess came back this weekend to assemble with me. We knew this would be a heavy sucker, since the finished size is 54″x 106″ and 30″ tall, so we moved all the components up to the patio, and decided where the table would go before we put it all together.patio table auditionupside down table top

We lag-bolted and screwed the frame to the planks.upside down frame Since the planks were different thicknesses, we cut the legs different lengths. Once we had partly assembled the top, and placed it on the base, the resulting 32″ table height was too tall, so Tess cut 2″ off each leg.t cutting legs

I nailed a piece of duroid roofing onto the bottom of each leg to help keep moisture out.

D raised the concern that the outer boards would not have enough support for their considerable weight, and I agreed. We beefed up the outer frame boards, and found some 4×4 in the discard pile to cut and bolt knee-braces to the legs. (As well as improving the strength, I think the knee-braces improved the balance of the design.)knee braces from below

There must be 50 lag-bolts in this table, many of them previously used from the $2 box I bought at the Habitat For Humanity ReStore. The space in the middle of the table is for a metal box insert for ice and drinks or plants. (See this post for the update.)driftwood table 2

Our family calls Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Hallmark holidays, and insist that we don’t celebrate these commercial days. Nevertheless, I feel loved and appreciated by our children. Tess spent the weekend with us, gifting us her time and muscle, and our sons all called or texted me. picnic table

So this is what I did on Mother’s Day, after we finished the table:relaxing after hard day supervising

And here are some other views of the table on the patio, just waiting for a feast occasion:

patio from belowdriftwood table lilacs on old wood

patio with table.jpg

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