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An American Girl Picnic Table

Being a woodworker is a wonderful thing. It seems at times as if nothing is out of our reach. Give us a little time, some wood, and inspiration and there is no telling what will materialize from our shops. So when a little girl who was fast approaching her 6th birthday asked me if I could make a picnic table and garden play set for her American Girl doll, the wheels started turning.

Small projects can be a lot of fun. You get to use up some of that scrap that you have been hoarding for years, and you get an opportunity to try some new techniques without being overwhelmed by size and scope. Doll furniture can be even more fun because it is like building a prototype of a real piece.

So this very important customer had some big ideas and was very specific about them. After some impromptu napkin sketching, we had determined what kind of table we needed and how the garden would look.

    The benches needed to be part of the table
    Garden would have planter boxes at the corners
    Recessed beds between the planters to simulate an in ground garden

I knew that her American Girl doll was 18″ so with my sketch in hand I began to scale the table to fit the doll. After a few hours of work with saws and planes I had a cute little picnic table. The garden platform took a little more planning because of the need to create recessed flower beds. This is really a torsion box assembly with beautiful Vermont Cherry 2×2 blocks set in the corner with holes drilled to act as the planter boxes. One I had skinned both sides of the platform I was left with holes where the flower bed would go. I placed floral foam into the planters and the beds and provided plenty of pretty silk flowers so she could “plant” her garden. A little model railroad grass on the surface and all was ready.


It was a huge hit with the birthday girl and she immediately went work planting her garden. Once her doll was in place with a picnic she turned to me with a very serious look on her face and said, “I feel so lucky to have a one of a kind table. No one else will ever have this exact table.”

Isn’t it great that even kids today can appreciate hand made.

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