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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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