Looking for a fun DIY project to start building your skills? Try out making this DIY picnic table for squirrels. You can enjoy the building and learning process while not stressing out about things being perfect – the squirrels will not mind any imperfections.
Or if you prefer reading and seeing pictures, I’ve added the entire episode transcript below (with some modifications for clarity) along with some images to highlight the main steps.
I came across this cuteness (of squirrels eating on picnic tables) on Facebook and I had no idea that squirrel picnic tables were a thing.
After a quick Google search, I saw that there were definitely a lot of them out there. I had to make one for myself and introduced the squirrels of Griffith Park to this new dining experience.
I loosely followed these free plans from Charleston Crafted
After doing some rummaging through all of my wood scraps, I was able to piece together the top with 1” x3”s and 1” x2” pine boards. I already had one board that was a good length for the top, so I cut the other boards to match.
When I started using a handsaw, a few years ago, I wasn’t very good at making straight cuts. So I used a miter box as a guide. I actually ended up getting a miter box and saw kit like this one, which I’ll link in the video description below. I’m currently working on a book where I will go into a lot more detail about all the tools that I use, how I managed to build everything in my dining room, and there will also be a ton of useful information for DIY newbies. I’m actually sharing some of the book writing process on my Patreon account, in case that’s of interest.
To attach the boards together, I used square wood dowels, and the two screws that you see on the side of each of the dowels are there because I’ll be using them to attach the legs to the top a little bit later. To make the legs, I had to cut a 30 degree parallel miter on each of the four legs. So I used my speed square to mark the angle. Of course, hand sawing isn’t quite as fast or precise as using a miter saw, but it still gets the job done, albeit a messy one.
It’s a bit tricky to line up the legs to make sure that they’re perfectly straight. So I use the edge of the table to do that and a piece of wood plus a ruler also is helpful to center the leg brace.
I’m using Spax exterior screws for this project because they’re made for things that go outside and also because they’re self drilling, there’s no need to make pilot holes which makes putting things together go a lot faster.
Now I had all the parts that I needed to put together my picnic table. However, before assembling it, I decided to add some dark brown stain accents. Using a dark stain like this is great for hiding imperfections and all the random holes that were in the scrap wood that I use. I could have filled in the holes with wood filler, but I think the squirrels will be okay with this.
The stain came out a bit darker than I wanted, so I sanded the entire table to tone it down.
I could have stopped here but I wanted to make this a really fancy squirrel table, so I added some decorative paper to the seats on the top with some Mod Podge.
This table turned out so cute and I couldn’t wait to find out if the squirrels were actually going to like it. For the first fancy squirrel mission, I served this dish units and I put the table on the ground, but no takers. I figured that maybe putting the table on a tree trunk would be better. Using a ratchet strap was my solution to do it without making any holes in the trees.
It took a couple of tries but the squirrels of Griffith Park finally came out of the woodwork. Maybe it was just a better location, but regardless, on that day, the squirrels were very interested.
Most of them weren’t fancy enough to use the table though there were so many that just snooped around, they weren’t quite sure what to do with this table and eventually after a bit I finally got one fancy squirrel customer. He wasn’t that well mannered. He sat on the pistachio nuts, but he really liked the walnuts.
I had so much fun with this silly project and hopefully you enjoyed it as much as I did.