Bisected Picnic Table
September 20, 2008 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Why is there a wooden beam that bisects this wooden picnic table top?

I searched Flickr for photos of picnic tables, but I didn't find others with this feature. My two best guesses are that it's designed to keep people from sleeping on top of the table, or to keep skateboarders from launching themselves off.

Does anyone know for sure?
posted by Tube to Technology (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'd like to quote something that was written to a small piece of plywood that was screwed to the bathroom wall of New England Conservatory for seemingly no reason when I was there (I'm guessing it's still there). It said "fine woodworking is timeless".

I've never seen that before. Looks kind of stupid.
posted by sully75 at 1:38 PM on September 20, 2008


I've seen that before at public parks/picnic sites and always assumed it was there so that if the area was particularly crowded, groups could easily share a table.
posted by arnicae at 1:41 PM on September 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mini table pong?
posted by iamkimiam at 1:41 PM on September 20, 2008


Looks to me like the table top has been removed at some point then wrongly reattached upside down. That beam would normally feature on the underside of the table top.
posted by fire&wings at 1:53 PM on September 20, 2008


Looking through your other photos, there's another shot of the exact same picnic tables without the divider. But if you look closely, you can see it on the underside of each table. I'm with fire&wings on this one: someone messed up.
posted by nitsuj at 1:56 PM on September 20, 2008


I've seen this before, mainly in state parks. I though maybe it was to keep people from sleeping on the tables.
posted by kimdog at 1:59 PM on September 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Seconding kimdog. They do this to benches as well, much as some municipalities have taken to welding metal cubes to hand rails to keep skateboarders from grinding on them.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:00 PM on September 20, 2008


Looking through your other photos, there's another shot of the exact same picnic tables without the divider. But if you look closely, you can see it on the underside of each table. I'm with fire&wings on this one: someone messed up.

Yeah, these are all old school wooden benches from Missoula Montana. But if you notice, on the other photo you linked to, there are several 2 X 4 braces on the underside of the table top, and they are affixed on end.

As far as context, the table in the main photo is located in a park down town, where there seems to be a higher concentration of homeless people. I've seen municipal benches with dividers intended to prevent people from sleeping, but they all seem to be much more pronounced than this little divider, thus my curiosity.
posted by Tube at 2:24 PM on September 20, 2008


If you look at the largest version of the mystery bisection, you can tell that there is a divider on both the top and the bottom- so the table top can't be on upside down- somebody really did add a piece to the top of the table.

I notice that this company sells a sleep inhibitor (scroll about halfway down) for tables- so maybe this is a home-built version.

Weird.
posted by Secretariat at 2:31 PM on September 20, 2008


The photo linked by nitsuj shows the bar in exactly the same position on the underside, on several of the tables.
posted by fire&wings at 2:32 PM on September 20, 2008


Well spotted Secretariat.
posted by fire&wings at 2:32 PM on September 20, 2008


It would also be easier to attatch an umbrella to.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 2:51 PM on September 20, 2008


Maybe after a time the tops have been carved or defaced, so they've flipped them for a smoother surface, leaving the bar rather than taking them all apart.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:37 PM on September 20, 2008


it could be a most inelegant way to keep the top flat.
posted by killy willy at 8:55 AM on September 21, 2008


Definitely there to keep people from sleeping...or naughtier activities.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:13 AM on September 21, 2008


I think Secretariat has the right answer. This is a good reminder for me that it can be useful to zoom in on photographs, at least those with enough detail in the first place. I should have studied my own photographs more carefully. Indeed, it's probably a low-buck "sleep inhibitor".
posted by Tube at 10:31 AM on September 21, 2008


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