Sunday, May 15, 2011

Build a Nice Sturdy Parson Table that Fits You For Your Garden or Patio

Complete Drawn-out Plans Follow Immediately After this Information For those who Want to Dig Right In

I designed this little Parsons Table so I could have something that I could sit down to on my Patio Deck or even in my Garden.   And do a little Plant work like potting or seeding heads... or just have some place to set a nice big pitcher of ice tea on those really hot days.  Add a few sprigs of fresh mint and several slices of lemon and a chair (that's coming later) set it under the Apple Tree (which doesn't seem to be good for anything but shade) and I'm set to take it easy for an hour or two in my garden. I can watch my garden grow or just listen to the birds flurting and fluttering in the trees.

I wanted a table that if I forgot and left it out in the rain, (I,m a little forgetful in my old age) ...It wouldn't be falling apart in the morning sun! It should be small and easy to move around in the Garden or on the Patio. It should be easy to wipe clean. It should be comfortable to work at. I'll show you how to fit it to You.

The top of the table is made of Exterior Plywood with one good side for the Top. AC 5/8", 3/4' thick etc. You decide. However, the thicker the the top, the  heavier the table. It's up to you.

 My legs were 25 inches long = about 100 inches. A 10 foot 2 X 4 should be enough to accomidate anyones leg length from seat to floor. You can get this in any quality that has good solid knots and no bows, slivers, twists, etc. If your not sure, have someone who knows wood pick out a good one. I used a premium grade 2 x 4 but you don't have to. It was purely for looks! If in the fall you check for nicks, scrapes, etc and touch them up with spray paint, the legs on this table should last with reasonable use for 15 or 20 years. Be sure to check the bottom of the legs which are much more vulnerable to the elements than anything else.

Material List:
Top - 20 x 30 inches  5/8 to 3/4 Thickness. Best Grade you can afford.

Apron - Quality 1 x 2 strip with no flaws exactly as the 2 X 4, You will not be happy with what is usually called "firring". Go to the trim board section where you will find designed strips and most likely something close to what you need. But, don't take the clerks word for it. Look down it, turn it over in your hands, look at the edges. check for bows, twists, etc. You will be paying a premium  for this wood stock. Get what you pay for. The alternative, is have some one "rip" a nice 1 X 2 out of a quality piece of 1 X 4, 1 X 8, etc, quality lumber. "1 X" lumber is actually close to 3/4 thickness.  Don't ask. It's a new standard started after WW2 I believe. 2 X 4's are actually 1-1/2 X 3-1/2 inches wide. This is for US Measurements. 1" =  2.540 Centimeters - if that helps.

4 - 2-1/2 inch dry wall screws (Attach Top to legs from the top) Counter sink the head at least 1/8 inch and fill with Wood Putty. Allow to harden completely before sanding. May have to add more to fill hole.

40 - 1-5/8" Dry Wall Screws. Use these to attach the Apron Strips to the Top.

Note: All screw lengths are based on a 3/4 inch thick top and a 3/4 inch thick apron X 2" wide. You may have to make adjustments if you use a thinner top etc. and use slightly shorter screws to avoid breakthroughs. Check first.


Get the prepared wood dough. I used Elmers on my Top and Apron.
(You can skip this part if you don't mind raw ugly drywall screws
 showing.)  Also Rusting and Rotting can occur with exposed screw heads.


You can use either Elmers, Gorilla Glue, or Tightbond III. I used tightbond 3. All are approximately the same price and work just as good.

However, the Elmers Nozzle invariably freezes closed about half-way through the squeeze bottle. Tightbond does the same with the Round Bottle. The oblong shapped bottle does much better with the nozzle cleanable. Gorilla Glue - Don't know. Always seemed over priced to me compared with the other two - and the Elmers and Tightbond III are very good glues. BE Sure you don't try Tightbond I or Tightbond II for this project. They are not made for cool wet weather, rain, or tornadoes (in my part of the country at least). Well, recommending strength against tornadoes is a much for Elmers and Tightbond or Garilla Glue...


You can start with 80 grit and work up to 120 grit or better.


I used Rust-Oleum - Ultra Cover -2x - Satin - Hunt Club Green. Because I think it is the best exterior enamel for wood or metal. It promotes itself as "Double Cover" and it seems to do just that. I used the entire can on the Table. This is totally my opinion. I was not paid or coerced into saying anything about any product good or bad.  I don't even know the parent companies. So if other companies have a complaint, make  better quality paint and glue for the money. I will say, expect to pay at least $4 a can or more for the paint and about the same for the waterproof glue. I used exactly 1 can. One coat. Perfect coat - looked like two.



1: Cut Top, 4 Legs, and Apron Pieces. Short pieces will be gradually         trimmed to fit between long pieces.

Attaching Apron to Top

2: Attach Apron to Top. Line the side pieces up with the Top. Flush along the sides and check ends for length.  At this point, you may want a friend to hold them perfectly still while you drill starter holes
through the 2 inch strips - down into but not through your nice Top.
NOTE: Check your Bit against the screw thickness. You should  see the threads past the bit if it is the correct thickness but Not the main shaft of the screw. If your not sure, ask someone knowledgeable at the store where you bought your wood or bits. If you wish to "Hide" your screws - as I have, you will want to drill another hole about 1/8 inch deep the size of the diameter of the head so you can screw it down below the surface and later fill the hole with putty.

(When assembling the Apron to the Top,  apply glue to the side of the apron pieces that are going next to the Top.

A recommended procedure for wood gluing by some people is to apply glue to Both pieces, then apply glue to the piece you started with which will be beginning to dry and set it down. Line the side strips up as you go and Screw/Glue down. Most of the time I use that procedure).

After attaching the sides of the Apron, Trim the end pieces to fit snugly between the sides. Glue and Screw down adding glue to the end of the smaller pieces as they will need to join with the sides.  Clamp all around with pipe clamps or a small nylon rope drawn tight around the sides pulling the apron all together.  Allow  to set 24 hours before doing more. The glue will start setting within a few minutes but wont be up to its full strength for a full day. Don't rush it.


3.  The simplest way is to attach the Leg edge and one side to each corner of the Apron first. First apply glue to the 2 attaching sides of the Legs and the adjoining apron surfaces. Apply glue to the End of the Leg also. Set and hold in place solidly. You might want a little extra help here. Drill 4 holes as indicated in the drawing  with your pilot bit and drill a countersink hole if you wish to hide the screws. Set your smaller screws in these 4 holes tightly. Do the other side of the Corner. Attach all 4 legs  like this. Quickly, set the table up on its legs. Check that they all sight parallel up and down with each other, make adjustments if you need to and are able. Drill through the Top with your pilot bit checking to make sure you won't hit the other screws.  Do the countersink job on each one.  Screw the long screws down tight into each leg.  Apply Wood Putty to all Holes.  Wood Putty will shrink slightly as it dries leaving a dimple. I might help to add a slight more amount to the holes than flush with the surface. Then you can sand it down flush when it's dry.


4.    Sand the entire Table down. I start with a 50 grit  on a Belt Sander (not recommended for amateurs). A good Palm Sander works nicely but not as fast starting with 80 grit.  Then Graduate to 120 grit or better to finish up

5.  Paint with a top quality spray enamel.

Click on Picture to Enlarge

NOTE: How to Fit any table to your anatomy.

Ergonomically, that is.  Find a firm chair that sets you at a comfortable leg height. Raise of lower accordingly. I used a 5 gallon bucket and stacked 2 x 8 scraps and 1 x 8 scraps on the bucket until it felt just right. Your upper legs should be perfectly horizontal and your feet should set firmly on the floor with your lower leg in a perfect up and down position.  Have a friend measure the exact distance from the floor to the top of your upper leg or knee.  Write it down. This is your perfect Chair or stool height for you.  Now. with your upper arm down at your sides, raise our outer arm and fingers to exactly horizontal. Measure this distance from the floor to the bottom of your horizontal extended arm. This the ultimate comfort height for a working table top that fits you.

Keep that Chair height because soon I will show you short plans on how to build a Garden Milk Stool - With Training Wheels (sorta) at my Daughters insistancel;  that can go anywhere and is designed for Your body!  Keep checking back.

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