How to Make an Outdoor Folding Table - Video Tutorial

Friday, March 22, 2019 -
How to build an outdoor folding table from inexpensive cedar pickets and lightweight PVC pipe in this easy to follow video tutorial and building plans

*This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product or payment in exchange. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. 

PVC pipe is some pretty cool stuff.  I know you're thinking of sprinklers and dryer vents right now, but I've been stalking Pinterest and came across the most amazing stuff built from PVC and ABS pipe! 

The weather up north is getting nice and it's almost time to start camping again. We LOVE to forget our cell phones from time to time and venture into the woods (I even wrote a blog post about my favorite tools to take camping). I've been wanting to build a folding table for a little while I'm in the throws of my PVC obsession, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to incorporate some off-the-shelf pipe into a build. 

Check out the build video for the whole process! 

Although the building process is really straight forward and easy to do (even for a beginner builder), the building plans were a little labor intensive to create. For that reason, I decided I need to charge a small price for these premium plans (same story as my Double Flip-Top Workbench or Folding Workbench plans). 

Click the image below to be able to purchase the printable PDF plans for yourself. 

Even if I design plans in Google Sketch-Up, I always discover unforeseen problems and make modifications as I work. Here are a few tips and tricks I learned on this build and products that made it easier: 

1. Cutting Material

Some of the wood pieces need to be cross-cut as well as ripped (cut down the length). These cuts can all be made with a cordless circular saw. I have a couple of tricks that will make the process WAY easier! 

1. Buy a piece of rigid foam insulation to act as a cutting surface. This will allow the material to be fully supported while you cut and you won't have to worry about the blade damaging the work surface below. 
2. Buy a pair of comfortable knee pads (I've been wearing a super squishy pair of Gel Knee Pads from Husky). You'll be able to kneel and reach across the floor comfortably to break down larger pieces of material. You then can move smaller pieces to a workbench if you' like.

2. Assembling the  Frame

I love using impact drivers for pretty much anything I can, but since cedar is such a soft wood, I could easily blow through it and cause a lot of damage if I'm not careful. Enter my absolute favorite impact driver

I love my Makita Sub-Compact Brushless Cordless Impact Driver! It has adjustable speed settings, as well as an "Assist" mode when starts off slow and speeds up as needed. It really helps to avoid stripping screws!

3. Cutting and Shaping the PVC

To add strength to the pipe leg assemblies and keep them from folding, I need to attach diagonal support arms which I made from some 3/4" PVC pipe. 

The fastest way I've found to cut smaller diameter plastic pipe (1-5/8" outer diameter and smaller) is to use a Husky Ratcheting PVC Cutter. It's super simple to use and accurate. I love that it can be used with a single hand, freeing up my other hand to hold the material securely. Sometimes it's nice to avoid all the mess a saw makes and just use a hand-held cutter

Surprisingly, PVC is actually pretty soft once heated and can be manipulated into stronger and easier to use shapes. (Check out the build video to see what I'm talking about)

I used a  heat gun and my Kreg face clamps to flatten 2-1/2" ends of each pipe, parallel to each other.

Then, I discovered it was really easy to shape PVC with an electric sander.  I used a cordless belt sander to smooth the corners of the leg support arms, creating a full radius and allowing the arms to hinge and move.

So, with any piece of furniture with moving parts, the question is always stability. Is this thing a rickety piece of junk? Is it sturdy enough to use realistically?

(P.S. That's one sexy looking card game going on, if I do say so myself )

In full disclosure, there this a tiny bit of wiggle if you really put some force on the top, but honestly that's the case with EVERY folding table I've ever used. I think it's just the nature of the beast. If you are comparing apples to apples, I would easily say my folding table is just as strong or stronger than any similarly priced/ sized folding table you could buy from the store.

I love love love the cedar top. It's kinda refreshing to have a portable table surface that isn't plastic or particle board. Do you see those small slats between the boards? They allow for drainage, which is crucial if you are planning on using your table outdoors. 

I spent just under $50 for all the materials, including hardware. After searching Amazon and Walmart, that's about the same or less than I would have spent on a small, plastic folding table. I think this is definitely and upgrade and worth the cost.

I'm SO GLAD I decided to add a handle. However, after I built it, my husband came up with the idea to add an adjustable strap so it could be carried on my shoulder. I think I'll be adding that little gem shortly.

For reals, how heavy is it?

It's about 26-1/2" lbs - the same or less than a plastic folding table. Definitely something I can lift with one hand and carry by myself.

When it's folded flat, it's only about 5-3/4" thick. Thin enough to store under a bed or in a closet.

Ready to build your own wood and PVC folding table? Click below for the detailed building plans.

And if you want to save this idea for later, feel free to pin the image below. Have fun!

how to make build easy lightweight folding wood outdoor table bench video

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