I moved into a new house in May, out from my single bedroom apartment. I now have a lot more space, both inside and outside and my house includes a sort of back patio area which is perfect for grilling, but neither I nor my roommate had any outdoor seating. Inspired by this post by my friend Nick, we decided to make a picnic table.
Unfortunately, recycled wood is sort of difficult to come by in Manhattan, except when it's ground up and mixed with plastic chips. This makes it weather really well, but it won't support any sort of load, which made it pretty unfit for our purposes. I ended up using untreated lumber, and built the table according to these plans. It's really sturdy (it uses 16 3/8" bolts and a pound of deck screws) and while it wasn't quite as cheap as Nick's table ($75 before any paint) it should last a very, very long time. The instructions detail how to build it, so I won't go in depth on what we did there. I will say that it was a ton of measuring (duh) and that using a small t-square (in addition to a tape measure) helped a lot.
So, now that the table was built, it needed to get painted so it could withstand the elements. I ended up using Behr's Barn & Fence paint because it's oil based and super-tough. After applying a couple coats of boring white to the table, my roommate and I realized that we had a perfect canvas for being somewhat creative. Unfortunately, as a computer scientist and mechanical engineer, neither of us were very artistically inclined. We decided to use other people's art instead — logos, to be specific — to commemorate specific events. So far the only event immortalized on our picnic table was the release of Fedora 13. This week was Reddit's birthday, so we should be applying the friendly orangered-eyed alien soon. The logos are about five inches square, and though the fedora speech bubble looks sort of lonely now, hopefully by next May we'll have a bunch of cool designs. If nothing else, it will be an excellent conversation piece.