It's a handy companion for your barbecue—and folds up for easy storage.
By Bruce Wiebe, Lakeville, Minnesota
After this collapsible cedar table was built, our family wondered how we ever grilled without it. The legs rest under the top for quick storage or carrying to all kinds of other jobs, indoors or out. All you need to build it is a drill, a saw, basic hand tools, a short stack of cedar boards and half an afternoon.
The table is made entirely from 1x4 cedar boards. Wood quality varies, so pick over the lumber for flat, straight boards that are free of large or loose knots. You can make the table from eight 6-foot boards, but buy 10 to allow for possible miscuts and to give you more choice for the top slats. Lumber cost? About $35.
Cut the Parts
You can use a handsaw to cut the parts, but an electric jigsaw speeds up the job significantly. Use a square to help make straight cuts (Photo 1). To ensure matching legs and frame parts, clamp two boards together and mark and cut them at the same time (Photo 2). Cut slats one or two at a time. You'll cut the stretchers after bolting on the legs.
To assemble the frame, drill two holes in the ends of the longer frame boards and add a countersink hole for the screwheads to nestle into. Cut the slats and place them topside up on a flat surface (Photo 3). Center The frame on the slats to create a 3/4-inch overhand on all four sides. Then lightly trace the frame shape on the slats with a pencil.
Lift off the frame and drill and countersink screw holes in the slats using the traced lines as a guide. Then screw the slats to the frame (Photo 4). Lightly tap a couple nails between the slats while screwing them to the frame to create the approximate 1/16-inch spacing between the slats. the end slats will overhand the frame approximately 3/4 inch to match the slat overhand along the frame sides.
Attach the Legs
Flip the table top upside down and screw the pair of angled blocks to the corners of one end (Photo 5). Butt the rounded leg ends against the spacer blocks, then drill and bolt on the outer leg pair with the shorter 2-1/2-inch carriage bolts, washers and wing nuts. Now attach the inner leg pair to the other frame, first screwing in the spacer blocks to allow the legs to next inside the other pair (Photo 6). Add the angled blocks, then drill and bolt on the second leg pair with the longer 3-1/2-inch carriage bolts.
With the legs flat on the underside of the table, measure for the stretchers, cut, drill and fasten them to the legs (Photo 7). To pull out the legs, lift the more widely spaced pair first so the second pair can be raised without catching on the first pair's stretcher (Photo 8).
Sand, Finish, Then Grill
Sand the table with 100-grit paper and, with a sanding block or rasp, slightly round the top edges of the slats. Put on your favorite finish; we used two coats of Penofin penetrating oil finish (cedar color). Pull out the legs, tighten the wing nuts and throw some rib eye steaks on the grill—just in time for dinner!
1. Cut the boards for the top and the frame that supports it using a jigsaw or handsaw and a square. (See exploded view diagram).
2. Clamp the leg boards together (rough side in) and cut both of them at once to create identical leg pairs. Drill the 3/8-inch bolt hole in the upper end before unclamping.
3. Lay the frame on the top boards and lightly trace the frame shape so it's easy to see where to drill holes. Space the top boards with about 1/16-inch gaps between them.
4. Drill two holes on each top board end with a counter-sink bit and screw them to the frame. A nail is handy for creating even spacing.
5. Screw a pair of angled blocks in one end of the frame, then butt the rounded ends of the legs against the blocks. Drill through the frame and bolt on the legs.
6. Screw spacer blocks in the other frame end. These allow the other pair of legs to next inside the first pair. Then drill and bolt on the second pair of legs.
7. Screw stretchers across each pair of legs. For best fit and overall results, mark and cut the stretchers based on the actual spacing between the legs.
8. Test the fit of the legs in the frame by pulling the legs up from the frame. If they bind and scrape, sand the sides for a smoother fit.
Shopping and Cutting List
Overall dimensions: 28-1/2" H x 42-3/4" W x 19" D
Part A: Top slat; Qty: 12; Dimensions: 1x4 x 19
Part B: Long side pc.; Qty: 2; Dimensions: 1x4 x 41-1/2
Part C: Short side pc.; Qty: 2; Dimensions: 1x4 x 15-3/4
Part D: Leg; Qty: 4; Dimensions: 1x4 x 28-3/4 (15° angled end cut)
Part E: Leg stretchers; Qty: 2; Dimensions: 1x4 x 15-3/4 (Cut to fit)
Part F: Leg spacers; Qty: 2; 1x4 x 6-3/4
Part G: Leg stop blocks; Qty: 4; Dimensions: 1x4 x 4-3/8 (15° angled end cut)
(Note: All parts cut from "1x4 S3S" cedar, so each board is a "fat" 3/4" thick and 3-1/2" wide, with two smooth edges, one smooth side and one rough side.)
2: 2-1/2" x 3/8" carriage bolts
2: 3-1/2" x 3/8" carriage bolts
4: 3/8" wing nuts and flat washers
1: Box 1-5/8" deck screws
1: Pint Penofin wood finish
1: Drill with countersink