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Their deck becomes a preschooler's picnic table.

A pull-out step turns this deck into a picnic table. How? The 114-inch-long step becomes a bench seat along one side of the multilevel deck. Owners Anne and Jim Young of Tualatin, Oregon, scaled it for use by their small children; it's too low for comfortable adult seating.

When not pulled out, the 12-inch-wide step blends with the 20-inch-high deck, giving little hint of its double identity. The only clues are the notches cut in the riser. Two notches are hand holes; others are for 2-by-4 guides mounted to the underside of the double 2-by-6 step.

The pull-out bench works like a giant drawer. At three points along its length are pairs of 2 by 4's that act as guides. They flank short 2-by-12 joists that project from beneath the deck but are not part of the main deck foundation.

As the sketch below shows, the 2 by 12's are blocked between the deck's support posts. The 2-by-6 blocks were toenailed in place; a nailed 1-by-4 rear brace joins the three 2 by 12's. The blocking, front riser, and rear bracing keep the 2 by 12's rigidly in position.

To make it easy to pull out the step, Mr. Young made sure the 2 by 12's were all square to the deck and projected equally on the front. He cut a notch in the front end of each 2 by 12, so the projecting part is 9 inches high and 11 inches long. The remaining part and the 2-by-6 blocking keep the step from sliding in too far.

The blocking is important; without it, the weight of a child on the pulled-out seat could make it tip backwards. But because the 2-by-4 guides extend beneath the blocking, their upward motion is stopped. Although the step can be completely removed, the Youngs slide it out only 7 or 8 inches, leaving about 5 inches of the 2 by 4's beneath the blocking. (To ensure that guides do not come out or tip over, you could use longer 2 by 4's and add stop blocks to their ends.)
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Date:May 1, 1984
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