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Building an Outdoor Table

Sometime last fall, when the weather turned cool, we started looking around for fire wood. A few months earlier, we purchased a picnic table from someone on Facebook Market place who also sold fire wood. When we reached out to him about firewood, he said he had a half cord of dry and already split white oak with our names on it. As we were picking it up, we got to talking about his business and he mentioned that he also sells thick, live edge planks of white oak, cherry, and walnut. On a whim, we decided to purchase a piece of cherry and of white oak both 9' x 2'. Happy with our purchases, we returned home and placed them into storage.

It didn't take long before I had turned the piece cherry into our kitchen table. It replaced the square of plywood we had been using and thanks to its adjustable size, was larger too. But the white oak just sat for months. We knew what we wanted to do with it, the plan was to turn it into an outdoor table that attached to the bus. How? I wasn't sure, so I made a spot for it in our shed and just left it there.

Cherry slab turned kitchen table

Can you spot the plank among the chaos?

Months passed, and projects came and went. In late August, we finally pulled together the funds to buy an awning for the bus. I had it assembled and attached by lunchtime and boy, what a game changer it was. It seemingly doubled the square footage of our bus by providing a sheltered outdoor space. But until we put up the table, the space was unfinished.

The night before our trip to Georgia. The awning rolls up nicely for travel. The spot for the table will be somewhere between the doors and the rectangular black patch above the rear tire

Fueled with motivation, I hauled the 100+ pound slab onto my saw horses and started cutting it down. It had warped some over the past year and needed extensive planing to get it flat and smooth.

A 22 second clip of the near 3 hour process

After smoothing it out, I sanded it to 100 grit and then let it sit for about a week. Wood needs time to adjust after it's been planed because groves will form on the textured lines. I then re-sanded it to 150 grit to get the glass-like finish we all crave.

Once all the sanding had been done and the table had been cut to length, I sealed it using a wood stain called Rubio Monocoat. This is the same stain we used for the kitchen table.

I do believe that Rubio Monocoat is the greatest wood finish on the face of this earth. It's pricy, but well worth its cost. You only need to put on one (mono!) coat, it takes an incredibly small amount, and it's dry to the touch in about 2 hours. I cut our table down to 7' x 16" and I only needed 4 tablespoons of sealant! It is stain resistant, waterproof, and brings out the rich tones of the wood.

At this point in the project, I still wasn't quite sure how to affix it to the bus. I knew it would go by the door and under the awning but should it fold up or down? How should it be supported? What kind of hinges should be use? After lots of debate, we decided it would fold up, we'd use chains as supports, and have several piano hinges to actually attach it to the bus. And so, after a quick trip to our local hardware store and hour of cutting, drilling, and screwing... we had ourselves a table!

This strip of chestnut serves as the mounting point for the table

Cutting the chain down

The chain is attached to the wood by an eye hook and a quick link and then to the bus via a U-bracket, a turnbuckle, and two quick links

I'm a lot happier with it than I let on

To keep the table up while driving, we use a standard garden gate latch on one end that latches to an eye bolt (not pictured). In addition to the table, we extended our propane gas line and added an exterior 120v outlet for summer cooking and evening lighting.

We are pleasantly surprised with how simple and functional the table has turned out to be!


Supplies needed to build your very own outdoor collapsable table!

Materials: - 6 quick links - 2 turn buckles - 1 piece of 6 foot long chain - 2 U-brackets - 3 eye bolts - 1 garden latch - 3 piano hinges - A white oak slab cut to 7 feet long, 16 inches wide, and 1.5 inches thick. - An equal in length strip of wood for securing the table to the bus - Rubio Monocoat - Self-taping metal screws

Tools: - Screw gun - Drill - Grinder - Square - Tape measure - Planer - Sander - Circular saw


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1 Comment

Sep 12, 2023

What a great post. Very informative, nice clear directions! You should invite your neighbors for supper.

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