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DIY Picnic Table

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We turned an old tree fort into a DIY Picnic Table!

diy tree fort up close

About 5 months ago, we’re packing up and getting ready to move (yanno, BUSY LIFE!!), when the lady buying our house asks if we’ll tear down the tree fort before we go! What?! First of all, did I mention we were busy?! Second, it was January… in Pennsylvania. Third, we didn’t really have to. I mean, you buy the house as is, so we could have just walked away.

But my husband and son built this fort together about 6 years ago, and I just couldn’t stomach the thought of her hiring somebody to tear it down and it just getting thrown in a burn pile. I know, I know… it’s just wood. But I’m a sentimental gal, and that was too much for me.

tree fort

So the entire tree fort, where so many memories were made, came down. And that wasn’t even the hard part. Then we had to load up all that wood and take it trip by trip over to the new house. If you guys could do me a solid and never, ever remind my husband about that, that would be grand.

Once we were at the new house, we realized that we suddenly had not just a deck, but also a patio! Our old house had a sunroom that felt like an interior room, so we literally had no outdoor furniture for our new deck and patio.

And while it’s certainly fun to lay out a nice picnic blanket and pretend to be picnicing somewhere other than home, I knew we needed some furniture for the deck. Which is how we came up with the idea of repurposing the tree fort wood to build a picnic table!

diy herringbone picnic table build

I found this plan for a Herringbone Table from Rogue Engineer and we got to work. This was the first time we followed one of his plans and it was incredibly simple! And let me just assure you, we are not woodworkers at all! Seriously, we are solidly in the novice camp.

building the picnic table

But the plans break it down into such easy steps. You can see in the picture above, we started with the X-frame legs. Then we moved on to the tabletop frame. This is where we started veering a little off the plan.

Don’t forget that the wood we were dealing with was old and had been exposed to the elements for 6 years. It was a bit more warped than if you’re buying brand new wood. As I started cutting the herringbone pieces for the top, we realized this more and more. So we ended up removing the 4 outer frame pieces (the same ones he’s attaching in the above pic).

Then I started cutting the herringbone pieces only along the center cut. The rest we let hang out over the frame.

herringbone picnic build

Once we had everything lined up nice and tight, we went around with our Ryobi nail gun and started attaching the pieces. Once they were attached, we took our circular saw around the whole outer perimeter using the frame underneath as our guide.

picnic table build

Then we reattached the 4 outer frame pieces to pull it all together! It really was so much faster than having to measure every single herringbone cut!

Once it was all put together, I used a belt sander to even the whole thing out! This made such a HUGE difference, especially because our wood was being repurposed!

In person, it seemed like an even bigger difference than the picture below. The right side has already been sanded and I was still working on the left side.

using a belt sander

Our X-frame legs needed to be stained, because that wood was in pretty rough shape. I had 3 things of stain with a small amount in each one that I mixed together. I’m nothing if not frugal!

picnic table with two stains

I wanted to keep the top as natural as possible, so I just sealed it with some Thompson’s Water Sealer. It was my first time using it and I LOVE the finish it gave it! Like really, really love it!

picnic table from tree fort

(Did you notice all the extra wood in the background of the above picture?? That’s what’s still left of the tree fort! You can even see the ladder sitting on top. I’ve got lots more plans for all of that!)

It’s not perfect, because we were dealing with repurposed wood, but it’s so smooth and rustic looking and pretty much exactly what I was going for!

herringbone picnic table

And probably only used about 1/4 of the wood from the tree fort! My next project is to make benches to match the table. I’m thinking X-frame legs again with seat slats angled in one direction and then the outer frame around it. That shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, right??

herringbone picnic table diy

But definitely head over to the Rogue Engineer’s site and check out some more of his plans! Very easy to follow and FREE!!

Just like my picnic table! Our only expense was the $10 can of water sealer and I still have 80% of that left for my next project! My husband even saved the screws when he took apart the old tree fort, so we didn’t even have to purchase those!

And if you want to build the actual tree fort instead of the aftermath table… be sure to check out the TREE FORT POST where we built it originally!

And in case you’re interested, we have built a few other pieces around our house that were just as easy, thrifty and practical!! One of our favorites was this Murphy Desk for our daughter that freed up SO much floor space! Check out THIS POST for the tutorial!

murphy desk

The child was also in need of some massive organization for her bedroom, so we built her this wall unit for her bed. It started with a $10 thrift store headboard from the ’80’s!! Check out THIS POST to see how we built it!

DIY Striped walls using styrofoam for a 3D effect!

tree fort into picnic table






Ray M

Wednesday 22nd of June 2016

Wow! Very nice! I don't really care for picnic tables because it's always the same old tired design, but I really, really like the looks of this and see this in my future. You guys did an amazing job with it, thanks!


Sunday 26th of June 2016

Thank you so much! I was also trying to stay away from the same old picnic table design, but at the same time make it pretty simple still. We are novice woodworkers, so can't tackle anything too complicated yet! This turned out better than we expected, and we love it! Thanks again for your nice comment!

Grandmas House DIY

Monday 6th of June 2016

I came over from Hometalk so I could pin this to my DIY Build Projects board! Love it!

Jennifer V.

Thursday 2nd of June 2016

It turned out so great! And it's even better because of the sentiment.