Have you just finished doing your search for picnic table plans, and now you're sitting there scratching your head? You've just found thousands of different plans. How can you decide which ones to use?
First thing to check in the picnic table plans is the materials list. What kind of wood are they recommending? If it just reads to go buy some 2 "x 4" lumber and to start following the plans, throw that plan away and move on to the next one. Your materials need to be treated for standing up to the outdoors. Lumber you would buy for your interior walls is not what you want for your picnic table which must stand up to the rain, snow, and sun. Your best choice will be a pressure treated wood. The treatment will have been forced deeply into the wood to help it be resistant to the weather.
Continuing down your list, does it talk about nails? Discard that plan and move on. You might want to use a nail to temporarily hold a board in place, but nails come loose very easily. You want to be using wood screws to tighten down your picnic table, and for improved holding power. Make sure those screws are also treated to resist the weather. You do not want rust stains showing up all over your new table.
The second thing to watch for is the tools list. Any picnic table plans claiming you are going to build your table with just hand tools is stretching the limits. Sure, you could build it with hand tools, but it will be much more difficult. You will need a good electric saw to make precise cuts. Your saw needs to be capable of setting up to cut the angles needed for the legs, and potentially for the table top if you are building an octagonal table.
Are you going to drive those screws in by hand? If you want to try, go ahead. You are going to be wishing you'd never started. A good set of plans is going to make it very clear you need an electric drill for driving those screws in properly, and tightly. Your hands and wrists are going to appreciate your use of power tools.
These things may seem like common sense, but so commonly free plans give you exactly what you should expect, minimal information, and improper instructions. To reduce your frustrations, you may want to purchase picnic table plans which are complete, and give you the exact materials list you'll need. You can then take your plans to the local lumber yard, and pick up the exact items you need, in exactly the right quantities. Your project will go together quickly and easily. Or, you could stick with those plans you have, but you will just have to build another table next year. A properly constructed picnic table will give you many years of outdoor enjoyment.
Great picnic table plans take the project from frustrating to simple. Good instructions make every project easier, faster, and in the end, less expensive.