Gear & Equipment

The Perfect (Home Made) Camp Table: for Kids and Cocktails

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I've been around the block in search of the right small camp table. What got me started was this cool aluminum and steel table made by GCI. Wil and Wendy from Sierra Expeditions whipped it out during our New Years camping trip. At 19 inches tall, and 18 inches square, it proved to be the perfect table for our spawns.

Hanging out by the campfire, the two little girls sat down, ate their fruit and cookies, drank their juice, and made us happy by -- you know, being happy.

Wil broke the news to me upon my prodding on where to get one. "Dude, they stopped making it. Too many complaints about it I guess. It's a little small."

"And that's what makes it perfect, bro."

Well, okay, so the GCI table was out of the question. Byer of Maine makes a nice little side table that folds down, but uses scissor style legs. That wouldn't work for the kid's chairs.

Why not just make one, then? Sure, I know my way around a table saw and router.

All I needed was a plan.

So what do we need for a home made camp table to succeed?

  • Good weather resistance
  • Knock-down construction that's reasonably solid when set up
  • Relatively compact for storage

General plans for the home made camp table are here:

Here we go. My wood of choice was ipe (pronounced ee-pay) - a dark, and virtually bomb-proof hardwood from South America. For the most part, the decking industry is largest consumer of ipe, and for good reason. Its density and resistance to rot are virtually unmatched. Digging a little deeper, I learned that ipe has a fire resistance rating identical to that of — are you sitting down for this? — concrete.

No lie. Concrete.

Got an outdoor project? Sure thing, ipe will do.

My slat design is really not mine. Several larger, mass-produced camp tables use the same concept. The legs screw into cross slats that stabilize the table top, and the whole thing rolls up once you release the legs. It's cool, it's simple.

Even though the wood is resilient, I still selected boards that would yield quarter sawn (aka vertical grain) pieces. For maximum stability, quarter sawn material remains, after all these thousands of years of human history, the best. I'll spare you the technical explanation.

Home Made Camping Table Pictures:


Rob Clark
+1 / 0
# Rob Clark 2010-06-02 15:28
Wow...that is great!!! I love it and my kids need that table, heck I need that table. So where are the plans and where did you source the wood and parts like the leg anchors? We NEED the technical stuff :D
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Mark Stephens
+1 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2010-06-02 17:14
Rob, good point. I can come up with a cut list for the parts, and some online sources for the hardware. Great idea! Hang tight....

Camp Table Plans (.jpg file)
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Rob Clark
0 / 0
# Rob Clark 2010-06-08 12:10
Thanks for posting that!! Well I got the wood and am going to work on it some this weekend. It's going to be one expensive camp table eeeek. Where did you get the brass nut certs? In town or on the internet?
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Mark Stephens
0 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2010-06-19 20:47
Rob, I got them locally at the hardware store. Pretty common item. (sorry for the delay, I've been away from civilized life for a couple of weeks...)

Let me know how it goes!
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jessica averett
+1 / 0
# jessica averett 2013-07-09 10:28
This is SO RAD! I'll have to share this one soon!
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+1 / 0
# Amber 2013-07-15 16:54
I Want One! Awesome Mark!
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Camp America
0 / 0
# Camp America 2013-07-29 06:39
I have seen many beautiful camp table for kids but this home made wood table is quite good. Love to get one :)
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camp Staff
0 / -1
# camp Staff 2013-07-29 15:00
camp America is the best place to visit specially for kids as well as for youngsters.
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Andrew Hamilton
0 / 0
# Andrew Hamilton 2013-08-31 23:53
Something's off on those dollhouse 18" lengths for the tables legs..about 30"+ i would think at least.
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