Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homemade Cedar Planter

Hey everybody. Wondering where I've been? The simple answer is that I was busy with the new condo and other random projects.

This project started because I wanted to really get my balcony farm going. I call it a balcony farm, not a garden, OK? I soon found out, however, that redwood and cedar planter prices are crazy. Like 50 bucks for a 16x16x12 inch box crazy. A few days ago I got an OSH ad and saw they had 6"x1/2"x6' cedar fence planks for sale. They went for about 2.80 per plank, so for the box that I built which was 6'wide, 16.5" long, and 11.5" high, I needed 8 planks for about $24. I also needed some drywall screws for $5 for a box with way more than I needed. Why drywall screws? Why not? So for $29 and about an hour of time, you can make a 6 freakin' foot long cedar planter!

The space before with 2 store-bought redwood planters @ $50 each:

First things first, get your cedar or redwood fence planks. The dimension marked out is 6" wide but usually they are 1/2" less. I don't know why they do that but that's how it is.

Grab 3 pieces and put them on a flat surface. Line them up so the ends are even and clamp them together at both ends. This will be the bottom. Remember these are rough cut so you might want to wear gloves if your hands aren't use to woodworking.

I had some 1 1/2" leftover redwood post from a previous project so I grabbed those for the feet. Have at least 1 screw going into each plank. I used the appropriate screws so that the points would not go all the way through the planks. It's a good idea to raise your planter up from the ground to allow for better drainage and so the base will not stay soggy,  which could shorten the life on the planter.

A minimum of 3 feet is required due to the length of the box. I simply eyeballed the 2 on the outside to be about 1ft in from the edges. The third was roughly in the middle.

Now we start making the front and back walls. I used some leftover red oak for the corner supports. These were 12" but I recommend you get about 10" pieces for this. I just wanted to minimize cutting. Just square up the edges and put in 2 or 3 screws. In my case I was going through soft cedar and into hard red oak so drilling pilot holes were necessary to avoid splitting. After you get one side, of course, do the other.

Now square up your partial wall to the bottom corners. I used a single 1 1/2" screw right into the end grain of the red oak. This time I drilled a pilot hole to the entire length of the screw. Normally you never want to screw into the end grain because it just won't hold up, but red oak is so hard that I think I'll be ok here. Repeat on the other side. hint: clamps help out a lot if you don't have another set of hands to help.
What I forgot to take pictures of was additional 1" screws drilled along the bottom edge into the first wall plank. Smack the plank with a hammer until you get it flush with the bottom edge and use 5-6 short screws to keep it there.

Now line up another plank right over the first one and screw it in on both sides. Your first wall is done!

Repeat the wall process for the other side.

Doesn't that look SWEEEET?!

But wait, we still have 2 more sides to do! Measure one side of the box  from outside to outside, close to the bottom, and mark your last plank. These pieces should overlap the edges. Cut that piece and use it as a template for a second. You might not want to do this for all 4 pieces as you carpentry skills may differ and there may be differences in materials. When you get to the other side, measure and cut in the same way for the last 2 pieces.

Screw those puppies in. See what I mean by "overlap the edges"? Also make sure you're screwing into the support and not the endgrain of the bisecting planks.

Lather, rinse, repeat, go use the bathroom because you haven't in the past hour...

...and come back and take a look at your brand new 6 foot long planter!


 Plants and soil coming soon...