Sunday DIY: Book a table for Christmas

By Greig Morgan

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Dining outdoors requires a table but not a big price tag, says Greig Morgan.

This sturdy do-it-yourself table could be just the thing for an al fresco Christmas lunch. Photo / Janna Dixon
This sturdy do-it-yourself table could be just the thing for an al fresco Christmas lunch. Photo / Janna Dixon

It's nice to think of having Christmas dinner outside, even though our fickle summer weather can put paid to those plans. In case the sun does shine, here's how to make an outdoor dining table at which to host your guests with your lavish array of Christmas goodies. This kind of table looks smart, without the expensive price tag (I used narrower-gauge timber for the top and then added an edging underneath it to make it look more solid). Next week I'll show you how to make bench seats to go with it.

Step 1

The table top: Apply a generous amount of glue to the four sleepers and match the grain. Rub the joints together to help achieve a strong bond. Use a couple of sash cramps to help keep joints tight while the glue sets. Now that the glue has set, use a square to square up both ends.

Step 2

Under-top edging: Set the skillsaw blade to cut through the 50mm thickness of timber. Set up your saw guide and cut 50mm strips x2 for the length of the table, and x2 for the end pieces. Pre-drill evenly spaced 5mm holes then run a bead of glue along the lengths. Rub joints flush with the outside edges of the table and countersink down using 75mm screws.

Step 3

The legs: Set the skillsaw to cut as deep as the blade allows. Set the guide to cut in 100mm. Cut through the legs so they measure 100x100mm. Using a square, measure 690mm down, mark and cut. From the top corner measure down 90mm. Using a hammer and chisel check out the top corner to make a flat surface for the coach screws. To add detail, either use a router or plane off the sharp edges.

Step 4

Rails: Sit the legs in each corner on the inside of the under-top edging, making sure the checked out piece is facing inward. Cut a length of 200x50mm in half, then measure and cut to fit between the legs for the sides and end pieces. Pre-drill evenly spaced holes on the inside of the rail using a 5mm drill bit on an angle. Plane off the sharp edges or use a router. Glue and fix the rails to the top using 75mm screws.

Step 5

Corner blocks: Corner blocks are fitted, glued and screwed for bracing and strength, using the off-cut pieces of 100x50mm rail. Measure and cut each block so each end sits an equal distance along the side. Drill 12mm holes in the centre of the block at its top and bottom, and in line with the checked out leg. Pre-drill a 9mm hole to take the coach screws, then insert them.

Step 6

Turn the table upright and either plane off the sharp edges or run a router around the top edging to create a detail.

You can sand, stain or varnish your table to enhance the natural timber, and to suit its surroundings.


X4 Macrocarpa sleepers 200x50 x2.1m (top)
X1 macrocarpa sleeper 200x50x 2.1m (under-top edging)
X2 macrocarpa sleepers 200x50x 2.1m (rails & corner blocks)
X1 macrocarpa sleeper 200x100x 2.1m (legs)
X1 box stainless screws 75mm
X8 galvanised coach screws 200mmx 12mm diameter
Exterior wood glue


Skill saw
Tape measure, pencil
Builder's square
Sash cramps
Hand plane
Hand router
Screw gun
Socket set or adjustable crescent
5mm, 9mm & 12mm drill bits
Hammer and chisel

Next week: How to make bench seats to go with your table.

- Herald on Sunday

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