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Hi everyone - first timer here and absolute beginner having never built anything before… recently I decided I would try my hand at making a simple farmhouse table and bench for my back deck. I made the bench first and this came together without a hitch surprisingly! I have had some real issues with the table though, and after attaching the table top I’ve noticed it’s skewed the frame and now made the table wobbly and Not sturdy. I’m planning to take the table top off and add further support for the frame before I attach new boards (I think one of my errors was using boards that still had some moisture in them after a wet cold winter in here In NZ)

I’ve added some photos, Would welcome any thoughts on how to fix a wobbly table or smooth a table top (6 2x6 boards pocket hole together).

look forward to hearing your thoughts and learning more through the community here! :)
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Outdoor furniture needs to breathe and be able to move. The problem started screwing the top boards together. (An improper method to use pocket screws, but that’s another discussion). By doing that, you created a large panel of unstable boards that are bound to warp with seasonal weather changes.

The solution is to remove all the pocket screws and reattach the top boards individually. Outside of tree up. Anticipating they will shrink, you could butt them tight, but you might leave a 1/8” (3mm) gap. You also need a center cross brace between the aprons.

IMO the simplest way is to screw them through the top like a deck. Countersink and plug holes. You could also attach from the bottom via battens attached to the apron.

A note on pockets screws: they have their place, but they are intended for butt joints with the screw parallel to the grain. Going across grain has issues - the screw can split the wood or crush the fibers, and is ultimately not as secure. That said, I’ve seen a lot of antique furniture tops mounted with pocket screws in the aprons, but it’s still an incorrect method because they don’t allow for movement across the width.

Good luck down there in Lord of the Rings country! I hope this is useful.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Table issues aside I'm wondering about your water heater being outside with no protection or covering. Are all the water heaters outside in NZ? I'd want at least an enclosure of some sore, preferably insulated so it doesn't have to work so hard at keeping the water warm in the winter.
 

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Thats a pretty stout table. I agree the pocket screws are wrong. Run screws up from underneath, through the framework. Since it’s an outdoor table, i think you will have to live with some “character”. It’s going to shift every season.
 

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Termite
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Tops needs to be gapped or you may be assuming it will Gap over time and allow water run off. The top and base to be separated for movement or you have to bolt them together accordingly with movement in mind..
 
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