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lewisc

Outdoor Table Advice

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As you guys in the US are heading into Winter, we've got a warm summer coming our way soon. That means it's time to get on with the outdoor table I've been putting off for a while.  It's a battle I'm not going to win. I have a few ideas, my wife has a few and it's looking like hers might come out on top, at least in regard to timber. 

I'm going to create a metal frame (see images for inspiration) with matching bench seats and thinking about the timber on top. She's suggested going for some rustic (sigh) timber. I'm not totally against it but I have a hard time knowing what to do with it.

Many of the outdoor tables I've seen have gaps in between the timber. I assume for water run off and expansion etc. Plenty of them are just done with a big solid piece. The place it will go is mostly out of the weather, it occasionally gets some sideways rain and a small amount of sun. I'll elongate any holes for screws to attach to allow for movement. What would be the best method to ensure I don't end up with a potato chip table top. Does having gaps matter?

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The type of wood matters most. Here Red Cedar, or cypress does well outside. This is a question for an Australian woodworker on best choice of wood.

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Since it is not directly open to the weather, your measures to deal with expansion should be fine. Perhaps elongate the holes a bit more than you would for indoor furniture.

For full exposure, I'd go with single boards & gaps.

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I'm inclined to suggest small boards with gaps over using a single broad board.  But that suggestion is not so much based on experience as on an abundance of caution.  It is outdoors and you did say it would get some rain.  

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I've got a few options for suitable timbers. It'll all be recycled so should be plenty dry and stable. 

I'll go for the single boards with elongated holes. Sounds like it will be the smart idea.

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Changing things up for this one. Going to go with a timber frame now. Going back to this photo, how would you attach the top peices to the aprons - long screws like my sketch? or maybe even pocket screws through some side to side aprons. I'd prefer to leave the top screw free.

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35 minutes ago, curlyoak said:

The apron is attached to the leg with a mortice and tenon joint. Not the top.

Yep. I know that. Wondering about a neat/good way to attach the top as individual pieces to the aprons. 

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It needs to be screwed from the bottom. You will need to add wood from apron to apron. screw from underneath.

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Here’s the plan. It will also have matching bench seats. I’ll run a few pieces of timber inbetween the side rails for screws to go up into the top. 

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Are you going to limit the screws to one per board (at each end), or use two scews with elongated holes, or is the movement of a narrow board small enough to be ignored?

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Second question, possibly silly, do you have any cross supports for the table top at mid length or do the boards span the whole length of the table?

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I doubt elongated would really be necessary but I’d definitely oversize the through holes in the rails and cross pieces to give you wiggle room to ensure the ends of the boards line up and the gaps between are consistent. Plus they’d give room for a bit of wood movement. 

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I'd use a cleat inside the rails similar to how one would attach a seat to a chair. This way your not putting a bunch of large holes in your aprons.

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I was planning 2 screws per board across all rails with an elongated hole. Not sure about the movement over such a small width though. I've added a few pieces in my design to show what I'm thinking.  The cleat idea will work much better for this. 

I've also drawn on my approximate placing for screws. The longer lines on the side might be for a pocket hole or maybe on those ones I'll have to drill through the side rail.

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