I don’t know about you, but we enjoy eating outside in the warmer months and entertaining our family/friends. It’s a little hard to do that with limited space. Do you have a small outdoor space or are you just looking for deck dining ideas? Consider stepping outside-the-box and check out this fold-away dining idea with our DIY hinged deck rail dining project.
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If you’ve been following along lately, you are aware we just did a DIY deck extension and a DIY shade structure for our back deck (if not, be sure to check them out through the above links). Even adding the extra 100 sqft to our deck, I wasn’t really wanting to keep our big, bulky patio table/chairs. They just take up too much space and I’d rather have some nice, comfy seating areas with a non-intrusive dining space.
I saw some ideas on Pinterest where people had made deeper handrails to use like a bar of sorts. I liked this idea, but didn’t want it to be there all the time so I thought about how we could put it on hinges and make some sort of supports so we could fold it out of the way when we didn’t need it…and the hinged deck rail dining project was born!
DIY Hinged Deck Rail Dining
Supplies & Tools
1) Create the Dining Rail
We had two full 16 ft long deck boards and some shorter scraps leftover from our deck extension. We decided instead of wasting any more wood by cutting them down, we’d just run our hinged dining rail the full width of the deck.
Since the deck boards are about 6” wide, we wanted to attach the two full length deck boards together to create a 12” dining surface. To keep them together, we cut four 11.5” pieces from one of the scrap deck boards and screwed them randomly down the length of the underside of the full deck boards.
If you don’t already have wood lying around to use, I recommend a 12-by- piece of wood cut to the length you need for your space.
2) Hang the Dining Rail
We placed six 3.5” exterior mortise door hinges along the length of one of the under sides of the deck boards. The kids had to come out and help hold the dining rail up so we could screw the other half of the hinges to the underside of the handrail.
3) Cut the Supports
The hinges were enough to hold the dining rail in place, but we had to add some sort of support for when the dining rail was in the up position. We cut a few more of the deck board scraps into 12” pieces. To add a little more character, we marked an curved pattern along the bottom area of the boards and used the jigsaw to curve the boards. I sanded the edge a bit with the palm sander to smooth it.
4) Attach the supports
To attach the support boards, we used 12” piano cabinet hinges screwed to the boards and then to the tall 4×4 posts under the dining rail. This allowed the supports to fold away under the handrail so we could put the dining rail down when it wasn’t in use.
Since the supports were only about 6” wide, they were supporting the dining rail enough to keep it in the up position, but we weren’t confident in the supports if anybody put any weight on the dining rail. We didn’t have room to add wider supports to the corners but we could in the center.
On the center support board, we added an additional, shorter scrap of deck board which we also curved. We initially thought we could hinge it back to fold behind the first support when tucked under the handrail, so we used a 2” broad cabinet hinge to attach it to the first support. It turned out not to fit properly under there the way we’d planned, but it still worked. The whole support just swings away to allow the dining rail to be lowered.
For the far ends of the dining rail, we used 4” barrel bolts on the underside of the dining rail and under the edge of the handrails. When the dining rail is in the up position, the supports are hinged out and the barrel bolts are slid into place. These additional supports did the trick and we feel the dining rail is sturdy enough for regular use.
All that’s left is to stain the dining rail when we stain the deck and also get some cute, stackable bar stools! This dining rail gave us the dining space we need when we have people over, without the need to take up space with a patio dining table/chairs. I prefer to have cozy, inviting seating (there may be a post or two coming soon on some DIY patio furniture).
Do you have any clever, space saving ideas for outdoor dining? If so, please leave a comment.
Until next time,
P.S. – This is part 3 of a 5 part series for our overall deck project
Part 1 was our DIY deck extension
Part 2 was our DIY deck shade structure
Part 5 – How to stain a deck