So back at the start of summer just as I was finishing my exams, I was snooping around my house looking for something that was old / damaged that I knew would be annoying my Mum. After about a month straight of studying (and writing way more ARM Assembly than one should ever have to) I really wanted to build something. Also at this point I had spent all my money on tools and hadn’t yet built anything with them (hence me looking for a project that my mum would
fund be interested in), so was feeling a bit dumb at this stage.
I finally looked out the back and realised our patio table was pretty destroyed after sitting out in Irish weather for about 8 years.
So I decided that this would be a fun big project and one that would be quite useful for the summer. My family suggested refinishing it which I quickly rejected due to all that sanding (and besides the wood was starting to rot anyway) and decided to build a new one.
Luckily for me tonnes of people have posted videos about every topic conceivable on YouTube, so I started there. I came accross a Steve Ramsey video (who by the way is a great You Tuber who makes woodworking accessible for everyone) and decided to go for his cool octagonal patio table design.
The first thing I did was figure out how to make an octagon which is pretty easy:
360 degrees / 8 sides = 45 degrees / 2 cuts join together = 22.5 degrees
This means that each segment of the octagon needs a 22.5 degree mitre on both ends, so that when two adjacent segments are joined together the resulting angle is 45 degrees. Im really bad at visualizing things (as was confirmed in every aptitude test I’ve ever taken - probably why Im a computer engineer..) so I had to make a little mini test octagon, but I also didnt want to cut 8 pieces to make a test octagon so I cut two pieces. I could then place the two down and trace them with chalk, move one piece to act as the next segment, trace the newly added piece and repeat. This traced me out a nice octagon so I was happy that my angles / mitre setup was correct.
I went ahead and cut 8 pieces (at 90 degreees) to the long dimension. Once I knew these were all the same, I could set up my mitre gauge to make a 22.5 degree cut and cut each piece such that the long side wouldn’t be shortened at all, resulting in 8 pieces with the same long side length and same angle - so 8 identical pieces. I laid the 8 pieces out and I had a pretty nice fitting octagon!
I cut a rabbet on the insde of all 8 pieces to accept the 4x1 pieces that would make up the actual table top, glued and pocket screwed all the 8 pieces together and had a solid octagon!
I then got to work cutting and fitting the 4x1s to span the width of the octagon and make up the table top. Most of these cuts were simple 90 or 45 degree cuts but four of them (one on each of the ends of two of the pieces) were a little messier as part of the cut had to be 90 degrees and the other part 45 degrees. This wasn’t too bad though, I just cut them square at their full length and then snook up (reallllyy slowly) on the 45 degree cut until the piece slotted in. This makes more sense with a picture.
I followed Steve Ramsey’s plans again here and attached the legs together using two cross pieces joined using half laps. I pocket screwed the bottom cross braces into the legs from underneath so they were out of sight. However for the top cross brace, I cut a rabbet onto each of the four ends of the cross so that the octagon could sit on top of the rabbet. This meant the top was now connected to the upper cross piece and I finally connected this assembly to each of the four legs with screws through the front of the legs and capped them with dowels so they wouldn’t be noticable (which you just see at the top of the leg in the following image).
And yes I ran out of 4x1 at this point so had to wait till the next day to put in the final pieces.
One thing that irritates me about this table is the last pieces of the table top being really skinny - you can see the slot for the last piece of the top on the left in the previous picture.
All that was left to do was to apply a finish. I really liked the ‘whiteness’ (or lack of yellowness) of unfinished pine and have had projects in past look awful due to how yellow the pine went after varnishing. Luckily I found this Ronseal Outdoor Varnish that apparently “doesn’t yellow like traditional varnish” and after applying 4 coats was happy it with how little it yellowed. To be honest it could have used a few more coats but I was so sick of varnishing that I decided I’d rather build a new patio table next year than do any more varnishing.