I have been cooking outside more and have found that I need a side table for preparing and serving food. When we remodeled our kitchen I salvaged a piece of Corian 14" wide and 60" long that is about the size we want. The task was to design and build a base for it.
I thought about a number of options, but kept coming back to the kitchen work table I made last year, which has exceeded our expectations. My wife loves it and uses it constantly. I decided to use a similar design for the outdoor table. It is a bit narrow, but it will sit against a wall.
The next issue was what species to use. Cedar and redwood are obvious candidates, but I decided to use white oak because it looks nice and is an excellent outdoor wood. In a Forest Service study, untreated white oak was found to have an estimated average service life of 30 years in outdoor untreated applications. It also weathers nicely. Think of old whiskey barrels. I bought three 5/4 boards 8 feet long averaging 6" wide for $70, under $5/bf. I like this thickness because it makes strong stretchers and, doubled, makes 2" legs.
One disadvantage of white oak is that it is somewhat difficult to work with hand tools. It is subject to tearout and quite hard (Janka hardness of 1360 vs. 1010 for walnut, for example). It's manageable though; the key is very sharp tools, which requires honing very often. Given my severe patience and discipline issues, I have to be able to do this quickly at the bench with no fussing. The best way I have found is three steel honing plates loaded with 6, 3, and 1 micron diamond paste:
I also keep a strop at hand.
My design requires 14 mortises, which I made as I normally do by using a drill press to remove the bulk of the waste and then finishing with a bench chisel. At some point, I will buy a pig sticker and give it a go, but this method is so easy I am ambivalent. A personal failing I know.
Here are the four legs mortised and ready to go: