Picnic Tables Don't Like Nails

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Obser, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

    Messages:
    577
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2006
    Location:
    Highly Variable
    We NEVER use a nail in building picnic tables because nails eventually ALWAYS seem to back out. It may seem a bit more convenient to just hammer 'em together but deck screws are SO much better (unless one has absolutely no choice) -- and that comes from people who own an air nailer.

    All it takes to use deck screws is to pick up a box while getting the lumber, along with a matching driver bit -- then nearly any drill will drive them home and they will stay home. We use cordless drills but nearly any drill will do for building one or a few tables.

    Another advantage in using screws for your first table is that getting something out of place is not a catastrophe (and you don’t have to destroy things to get them apart). Just back out the screws and move parts as necessary.

    We recommend DeckMate screws, not because we have stock in the company, but because they are much less prone to break off under torque or for the heads to strip out when driving in or backing out than are similar-appearing deck screws.

    The same applies when we build a deck (or, hehehehe, a napkin holder). We are sold on screws over nails except in framing and a few other applications.

    Also: For anyone wondering, “What should I charge if I make a table to sell?”, there is a discussion of that topic in the “Plans on the way” thread.
     
  2. Danaus29

    Danaus29 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    19,677
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    Carriage bolts are good too. That's what we used for picnic tables at one of the city parks when I was in the JVS. Sure a bit more pricey but they really did hold up, so well most of them were stolen.
     

  3. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

    Messages:
    577
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2006
    Location:
    Highly Variable
    Danaus29, we don't use carriage bolts for several reasons. First, they are overkill -- not needed to make a sturdy, long lasting table. We have never heard of one of our tables coming apart.

    They are an unnecessary expense, and they require MUCH more time to install as compared to deck screws.

    Bolt holes may actually create a point of weakness, particularly on the Seat Support. I have seen other tables split at the bolt holes.

    Tables typically fail by having the legs break when moved, particularly those made using 2x4 legs or notched and crossed 4x4s; or by having the Seat Support weaken by rot or break under load (again, because 2x4s are often used for this critical structural piece). This is why we use 2x6 lumber for the A-Frame -- and use treated lumber to prevent rot at critical places.

    Another thing we avoided with our design was the all-too-common condition of having a seat that is so low that it is uncomfortable or having the top too low or too high in relation to the seat. We used standard chair height and standard table height to avoid these problems.
     
  4. Red Devil TN

    Red Devil TN Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Location:
    TN
    I'll second screws. I'm probably going to try some construction adhesive or waterproof glue once done as I'll be moving mine a lot.

    The nails like to come out because with all the moving the table does from regular use or physically moving it, the nails will enlarge their seats/holes over time and become loose enough to back out from the pressure further down the hole/seat. Some of that can be overcome with nails that have the glue on the shafts that are used in many of the pneumatic nail guns... but I'd still rather have screws.

    And whatever you do, do NOT fall to the temptation of using drywall screws!!