DIY Burro Patio Table

Inger Taylor

Posted on April 29 2018

From Memorial Day until well past Labor Day, the Taylor family frequently dines al fresco.  There’s something about eating outside the kids completely love and we do too.  The days are longer, and the warmer temperatures lure us outside with ease.  I know what you’re thinking… bugs!  Or maybe not, but in some parts of the country dining al fresco can require a screened in porch to keep the bugs at bay.  Not in Southern California.  We might get the occasional yellow jacket buzzing around the barbequed tri-tip, but that’s about it.  Funny how even a little winged insect can send our oldest daughter screaming and running with fear.  You’d think this tiny little thing were a giant vulture swooping down to feast on her.  I digress. 

We’re a family of six so if we happen to have another family join us around the outdoor table, a standard table would leave us short on room.  I don’t like to be short on room so what to do?  My first solution was most logical, buy a ginormous table that could seat at least 12.  A 15-minute search online told me I wasn’t going to find a table I wanted in our backyard at a price point I liked.  Fine.  I thought about it for another 15 minutes and decided I’d make one.  Completely impractical?  Yes, but why not give it a try?  Here are a few… uh, I’m not a person that makes it a habit of using power tools.  I’m not a person that has any woodworking or carpentry experience.  Lastly, at the time I decided to build this, all four girls were home for summer vacation.  Ouch!  That last one was the kicker!

I chose to ignore any rational thought and give it a shot.  I googled images of DIY patio tables and tried to find a table I liked that appeared relatively easy to build.  Just so you know, I didn’t find that table.  If it’s out there, I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort, but no.  I saw some inspirational ideas that didn’t appear too intimidating, but I never found a table that would be aesthetically pleasing, provide a guided, instructional build, and be massive enough.  The inspirational ideas gave me a solid foundation, from which to build and I mean that literally. 

Enter the saw horse.  There it was.  The answer I was looking for.  Remember, I wanted to make this as easy as possible.  I decided I needed to cruise the lumber aisles of our local home improvement store.  I was a fish out of water.  I found the saw horses.  I put two 24” Classic Genuine Burro Brand sawhorses on my push cart and headed for the checkout since I had no idea what I was doing. 

I needed to do more research.  I had seen online that some people use old pallets to make tables, so I figured I should get some.  Craigslist was the answer.  There was no shortage of free pallets listed on craigslist and they were my answer to mounting my table top boards.  The pallets also told me the width of the table.  The length was still a mystery. 

I knew I didn’t want to get into custom cutting lumber because I’d likely lose a finger or two so that meant going back to the lumber aisles to search the available precut options.  I looked at all the longer precut boards and figured the ten-foot-long 2x6 pine boards would give everyone enough breathing room seated around the table.  Again, the pallet was my guide to the width of the table, so I determined I needed nine boards to allow some overhang.  The biggest challenge was to sort through the stack of boards to find the least warped, sappy, overly knotty boards so ensure an even, relatively smooth surface.  I’m convinced everyone in that aisle thought I was nuts, but it was worth it so I didn’t care.  I also picked up four ten-foot 2x4s and I had a team member cut one in half.   How was I going to put this beast together?  I remember my dad constructing our redwood deck when I was a kid, and he used deck screws rather than nails, so that was my answer.  I threw 2 packages onto the flatbed and rolled the flatbed toward the checkout.

I had everything I needed to start construction.  I knew there was no way I was moving this after constructed so I carefully decided where I wanted it and got to work.  I aligned the sawhorses and placed them 56.5” apart, as measured from the inner legs.  Why 56.5?  I have no clue other than it looked right.  I knew I needed to connect the saw horses, so I placed three of the 2x4s on top of them.   Now, how the heck was I going to get the screws into the boards?  I knew pine was a softer wood than redwood, so I initially tried using a screwdriver.  I know, you’re smarter than me, and knew that wouldn’t work because I’d tire of it so quickly.  One screw and I was done.  I didn’t want to go out and buy a power drill, so I borrowed one from a neighbor and started drilling. 

Once the cross braces were attached, I set two pallets on top and screwed those into place.  This is where I quickly realized I had gone wrong.  With an entire pallet on top of the cross braces, the table would be too high.  I determined I’d look like a five-year-old while bellying up to the table, in desperate need of a phone book to sit on.  I then set to work deconstructing the top layer of the pallets, leaving behind the base boards that were screwed in.  Again, I had no clue what I was doing, so stupid, time consuming mistakes were inevitable.  I then screwed on the top boards and screwed half a 2/4 on each end to act as an end cap and to give a more finished look.  At this point, the kids were bored and stir crazy, so I needed a time out for some summer fun at the beach.

Two weeks later, I came back to start finishing it off.  Admittedly, I shouldn’t have waited the two weeks because every night the fog would roll in and the boards would get soaked.  I’m convinced they shifted and warped a bit in that brief period.  I knew I needed to stain it to prevent further warping, cracking, and also wanted to add some color.  Back to the store to buy some semi-transparent weather proofing all in one wood stain and sealer.  Before that went on, I figured I should smooth things out a bit so I went back to the neighbor and borrowed an orbital sander.  No, I’m not a carpenter, but I knew enough to wear a dust mask.  I made sure to also smooth the harsh corners on the end caps.  I wiped the table down with a damp cloth and once dry, started applying stain with an extremely wide brush.  I’m not into perfection so I wasn’t too careful.  Besides, I knew several coats would need to go on to achieve the depth of color and seal I wanted.  Yes, I remembered to put a tarp down under the table and yes, I let the stain dry between coats.  Oh, you’ll need to be sure you get various length deck screws.  I screwed up, got one size, and ended up with screws far too long as you can easily see in the photos.

I was happily finished with the patio table project.  I think the girls were even happier than me that I was finished!  We were able to get on with summer and many evenings of dining al fresco sitting around the table that momma built.





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