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How to Build an Umbrella Table

Updated: Apr. 11, 2022

Buy This PDF & Cut List This woodworking project will give you an umbrella table that is solid, stable and you can build it in a weekend!

FH06APR_466_51_033-2Family Handyman

Here we'll show you how to build this umbrella table step-by-step. The tapered base may look like the work of a skilled craftsman, but the entire project—including the angled parts—is super simple. If you've tackled a few woodworking projects in the past, you can complete this one in a weekend. If you have only a little experience with woodworking tools and techniques, this is a good learning project.

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Tools and materials

You’ll need a miter saw, a circular saw, a drill, and a pocket hole jig. You can rip boards with a circular saw, but a table saw will give you better results.

We used knot-free cedar for the top. You can use 5/4 cedar or pressure-treated deck boards for the top (if you select good pieces) to save some money. Other good choices include teak, redwood, cypress and white oak. For the base, we used plywood and No. 2 cedar. Our cedar boards were 7/8 in. thick, but 3/4-in.-thick boards would also work. Patio umbrellas are available at home centers.

A note on wood: Home centers often sell boards with a high moisture content, and they can shrink noticeably as they dry out. For a furniture project like this, it’s a good idea to store your wood flat in a dry location for a few weeks before you use it.

Step 1: Cut the parts

The umbrella stand’s base is simply a tapered plywood box with trim. Cut four side panels (A) from a 4 x 4-ft. piece of 5/16-in. ‘T1-11’ plywood. T1-11 is a common type of rough-sawn exterior-grade plywood available at most lumberyards.

Your cuts don’t have to be perfect—they’ll be hidden behind the rails and stiles.

Step 2: Build the base

Screw the corner cleats (B) to two of the side panels with four screws along each edge. Screw the other two side panels to the cleats to form the table base.

The corner stiles, which act as the legs of the base, come next. Four of the stiles (D) are full-width 1x4s (3-1/2 in. wide) and four (C) are ripped to 2-5/8 in. wide. Cut the stiles to length, then glue and clamp them together. Let the glue set for an hour before you attach the stiles to the corners of the base with glue and 1-in. screws. Use plenty of glue to ensure a strong bond with the rough plywood.

Step 3: Cut the stiles to length

Clamp your miter saw and a stop to your workbench. Set your saw to 10 degrees and cut the stiles.

Step 4: Base assembly

Set the base on 2x4s. Glue and clamp the stiles (C and D) to each other. Then spread glue on the stiles and screw them to each corner from inside.

Step 5: Miters without a compound miter saw

When mitered to 10 degrees, the ends of the stiles (C and D) won’t match up evenly. That’s no problem; just sand the protruding corners flush and no one will ever notice. But if you prefer perfection rather than simplicity, and you have a compound miter saw, you can cut stiles that match perfectly. Pivot your saw to miter 10 degrees and tilt it to bevel 10 degrees.

Step 6: Add decorative rails and stiles

Tilt the table saw 15 degrees and rip a bevel the top along the top edges of the lower rails (E).

Bevel the top edges of the lower rails. Then cut the upper and lower rails to length, mitering the ends of the rails at 10 degrees. Test-fit them, then glue and fasten them to the plywood with screws driven from inside.

To complete the base, add the center stiles. Cut a 15-degree bevel on one end of each center stile and make a square cut on the other end. Make each stile about 1/8 in. too long, check the fit and shave off a smidgen with your miter saw until it fits perfectly.

Step 7: Center the stiles

Attach the rails (E and F) with glue and screws driven from inside. Then mark their centers, position the center stiles (G) and fasten them.

Step 8: Assemble the top

The slats (H) must be precisely the same length, so cut them using the stop you used to cut the corner stiles (Photo 3). When you cut the short frame sides (J), don’t rely on the measurement (22 in.) given in the Cutting List. Slight variations in the widths of the slats can change this measurement. Instead, lay out the six slats with 1/8-in. spacers between them, measure the total width of the row of slats and add 1/4 in. Then cut the short frame sides, lay them in place and take a measurement for the long frame sides (K). With all the parts laid out with their best side face down, mark the pocket hole side and then drill the pocket holes.

Step 9: Pocket screw assembly

Join one corner with glue and pocket screws. Position the slats (H) with 1/8-in. spacers and fasten them. For flush joints, clamp the piece you’re screwing into. Then add the slats before attaching the other two frame sides.

Step 10: Fasten the cleats

Center the base on the tabletop and screw 2×2 cleats (L) to the tabletop with 2-in. screws. Don’t overdrive the screws or they’ll poke through the top. Drive screws through the upper rails (F) into the cleats.

Drill a 3/16-in. hole through each upper rail (F) and drive a 2-in. screw into each cleat. You can remove the tabletop simply by removing these four screws; this makes finishing, moving and storing the table easier. Drill a hole through the center of the top with a hole saw. Our umbrella pole required a 2-in. hole.

Before finishing, dab exterior wood glue on the end grain at the bottom of the legs. Then apply exterior oil finish to the inside and outside of the table. We used exterior teak oil.

Step 11: Anchor the umbrella with a heavy base

You can make a simple-but-stable base with a 5-gallon bucket, a 60-lb. bag of concrete mix and 2 ft. of PVC pipe. You’ll need 1-1/2- or 2-in. pipe, depending on the diameter of your umbrella pole.

Mix the concrete and water in the bucket. Cover the bottom end of the pipe with duct tape to keep the concrete out. Set the pipe into the concrete and push it all the way to the bottom of the bucket. Hold a level against the pipe to make sure it’s standing straight up. After the concrete hardens, drill a 3/8-in. hole through the pipe and pole. Secure the pole by running a 1/4-in. eye bolt through the hole. Also drill a hole through the bucket at the level of the concrete so rainwater can drain.

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