January 4, 2011

Before The Tablescape, Must Come The Table

How to Build an American Girl Picnic Table

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American Girl Fever has hit my eight year old granddaughter rather hard. Predictably, an American Girl doll arrived under the Christmas tree last month.
If the price tag on the doll doesn't send your heart into rapid palpitations, the cost of accessories will. So I set about researching furniture plans for 18-inch high plastic people.
The pink(!) picnic table looked like a good place to start.
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Pre-drill every hole with a countersink drill bit to prevent splitting.
Three  6-ft 1X2 pine boards
Two  8-ft 1X2 pine boards
wood glue
flat head screws
sand paper
one  3/4-inch dowel
A dowel with a smaller diameter can be used if there's no worry about the table being picked up and hauled around by the dowel.
wood filler
primer and paint


miter box and saw
drill and drill bits
paint brush
sanding block
OPTIONAL LIGHT GARLAND
PhotobucketOne set of battery operated LED string lights (Yep! We're using real lights.)
Two 1.5-inch wooden balls
Four 1-inch wood toy wheels
Gorilla glue
Two twist ties
Velcro
Two  5/16-inch threaded metal rods (12" long)

If the table will be used solely for display, then substitute wooden dowels for the metal rods and nuts. If the table is actually going to be played with, stick with materials that can take a little abuse. I used threaded rods rather than smooth ones in order to give the glue nooks and crannies (threads, really) on which to grab.
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1. Cut nine 24-inches long boards and three 7-inch long boards.
Put four of the 24-inch boards aside.
Using glue and screws, secure five of the 24-inch boards to the three 7-inch braces as shown.
(The official American Girl table is only 15.5 inches long, but 24 inches will allow a little girl to put more of those oh-so-wonderful accessories on the table.)

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There doesn't seem to be any detailed instructions covering the construction of the table legs, so here's where you might have to improvise.

2. Cut legs from a double layer of foam board, adjusting the length and the angle of the cuts until you are happy with the result. (The official American Girl table is 7.5 inches high.)

3. Use the foam legs as a pattern and cut four wooden legs from the 1X2.
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Life-size picnic table instructions on doityourself.com show a
"half lap" joint cut for the x-legs.

This is way, way, waaaaaaaay out of my skill range.

If you'd rather avoid the half lap joint, proceed to the next step.
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4. Cut a small block of wood and glue it between the leg and brace.

Glue and screw the legs into the braces.

Screw the leg next to the small block into the table top as well.

From the OUTSIDE, screw the legs together at their intersection.
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5. Using a 3/4-inch bit, drill a shallow hole
at the inside intersection of each leg.Photobucket
6. Cut the dowel to the proper length, add glue to each hole and insert the dowel between the holes.
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I scratched the inside leg doing this. This is where the wood filler comes into play.
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Photobucket The 1X2 is too wide for the shorter bench legs.

7. Make another pattern with narrower legs. (The official American Girl benches are 3.5 inches high.)
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Photobucket8. Trace 8 bench legs onto the 1X2 board. Cut the legs off in rectangular BLOCKS and . . . Photobucket
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. . . after turning each block 90 degrees, cut the blocks down to a narrower width.


This will be tedious if you're doing it by hand, but the final result will look better.PhotobucketPhotobucket



9. Discard the piece you cut away
and make the necessary angle cuts to finish the legs.


10. Cut six 2.25-inch blocks for braces.
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11. Using two 24-inch boards for each bench top, repeat Steps 1-4.Photobucket
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11. Sand, prime and paint.Photobucket
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OPTIONAL LIGHT GARLAND
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1. Drill a 5/16" hole in the two balls and all FOUR of the wooden wheels.
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Photobucket 2. Put glue in the hole of each ball. Wrap a twist tie over the top of each rod, leaving an equal length draping down on each side.
Insert the rods into the balls and allow to dry
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3. Thread TWO wheels onto each rod. Coat the threads of the rods with Gorilla Glue approximately 3/4" above the bottom.

Glue the two wheels to each other and to the rod in the area where you just applied the glue.

Allow to dry.
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4. Cover the wire twists with plastic wrap and spray the rods a color of your choice.
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5. Drill a 5/16-inch hole at either end of the table.
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6. Apply a couple of Velcro strips to the string light battery pack. (Careful! Don't put it on the side with the battery door.)

Place the battery pack on the underside of the table, marking sure the switch is accessible.

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7. String the lights from post to post and back again.
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If you're giving this as a gift, you might also want to include:
two or three pieces of fabric for making tablecloths,
clay for making pretend food,
a small stack of 6X6 origami paper for making paper lanterns to cover some of the lights,
and
a promise to show her how to stitch a hem, roll a tiny hot dog, and fold a little paper balloon.

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I'm linking to
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Hope Studio for Tutorial Tuesday,





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A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday and





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Nikki's Nifty Knacks for Gettin' Crafty on Hump Day.
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3 comments:

  1. That is so cute. Your little model looks like a real doll.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great job!! We had two daughters with American Girls here and well remember the cost of accessories.

    But oh... the hours of fun.

    She's going to treasure that little table forever.

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  3. WOWZAS! Thats incredible! Thanks so much for linking it up to gettin' crafty on hump day! :)

    ReplyDelete

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