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Garden Bistro Table and Chairs

Bring the café lifestyle into your garden with a DIY garden bistro table and chairs that will last a lifetime.

What you will Need for your Garden Bistro Table and Chairs

  • Flat board or surface to work on
  • 50 mm polystyrene board (1.2 m x 1 m)
  • Roofing nail and string or wire
  • 8-gauge wire
  • Binding wire
  • 50 mm PVC pipe (1 x ± 60-100 mm length)
  • Bag of fine river sand
  • Bag of PPC cement
  • Bag 12 mm building stone
  • 75 mm PVC downpipe (3 x 900 mm and 3 x 650 mm lengths)
  • Releasing agent (cooking oil or Spray ‘n Cook)
  • 4 concrete blocks
  • 10 mm reinforcing bar (3 x 810 mm and 3 x 640 mm lengths)
  • Rockset

Tools

Pencil, tape measure, small hammer, jigsaw, plastic bowl (the size of the seat top), steel trowel, 3 x builder’s buckets, angle grinder.

Steps

1. Place your sheet of polystyrene on the board. Push a roofing nail into the centre of the polystyrene and use a small hammer to knock it into the wooden surface.

Attach a piece of string or wire to the nail and tie a pencil to the other end. Use this to draw a full circle the size you want your tabletop to be onto the polystyrene. Our string was 415 mm long. Remove the nail and carefully cut out the circle with a jigsaw. You now have the mould for your tabletop.

2. The circular piece you have cut out can now be used as the blank for the mould for the chair seats. Using the large bowl as a stencil, draw three circles on the polystyrene, one for each of the chairs, and cut them out using a jigsaw.

3. Make the reinforcing. For the tabletop, bend 8-gauge wire into two circles, one 50 mm smaller in diameter than the tabletop, and one much smaller for the centre. Then join the two circles using four pieces of 8-gauge wire, tying them with binding wire to make what will look like a rough bicycle wheel. Now make three smaller circles, one for each seat, about 20 mm smaller than the diameter of the seats.

4. Mix up enough concrete to cast the table top, using 1 builder’s bucket of fine river sand, ½ builder’s bucket cement, ¼ builder’s bucket of 12 mm building stone and enough water to make a pourable mixture.

5. Place the short piece of 50 mm PVC pipe in the middle of the table mould, making sure it is dead centre. Pour enough mixture to half-fill the mould, holding the pipe in place and use a steel trowel to spread the concrete to create a level base on which to rest the reinforcing. Press the reinforcing into place and then continue filling the mould until the concrete is level with the top of the polystyrene.

Agitate the mould a little to remove bubbles, then smooth the concrete well. Twist the PVC pipe in place from time to time during the drying process to make it easy to remove when the tabletop is completely dry. Cover or keep damp for 3 days to cure.

6. Mix the same amount of concrete for the seats, to the same ratio as above. Create a base of concrete in each mould for the reinforcing wire circles. Press the reinforcing down slightly, then fill the mould to the level of the polystyrene. Smooth the concrete with your trowel. Cover or keep damp for 3 days to cure.

7. Spray a releasing agent, such as Spray ‘n Cook, into each length of the 75 mm PVC downpipe. The three 900 mm lengths will be the table legs (150 mm of their length will be below ground level) and three 650 mm lengths will each be a seat leg (again, 150 mm of their length will be sunk into the ground). Bundle the pipes together with binding wire and prop them vertically using some bricks to ensure they will not topple over during the drying process. Cut lengths of 10 mm reinforcing bar just short of the leg lengths.

8. Mix another batch of the same concrete mixture. Pour a base of cement mix into each pipe and then place one reinforcing bar into each pipe. Hold it in place while you fill the rest of the pipe right to the top with cement mixture. Smooth the top and allow it to dry. Again, cover or keep damp for 3 days to cure.

9. Once the concrete has dried, remove the tabletop and the seat tops from the polystyrene moulds. If you are careful you can reuse these moulds for more bistro tables and chairs. Use an angle grinder to carefully cut the length of each of the PVC downpipe moulds, then slide out the legs.

10. Plan the position of your table and chairs and dig six holes, three for the table and one for each of the three chairs. Pour in a bit of concrete mix (the same ratio as above) into each hole, then push each leg 150 mm into the hole and fill it up with cement mix. Mix a little bit of Rockset to form a paste and apply this to the top of each leg before placing the tabletop and seats. Let the table set and the cement mix dry well before using.

Then sit back and enjoy many evenings dining with your garden bistro table and chairs!