Or, how to build a planter for $6. Or how to build a planter for under $40. It all depends on what materials you have on hand. I used scrap wood and only had to purchase brackets, so for me this was a $6 project. Even if you have to go purchase all new wood I estimate that you can still build this for around $40. But here’s the thing: If you can, this is a terrific project to build with old wood. Pallet wood, old fence panels, a couple random scraps from Restore or from a junk pile your neighbor is throwing out.
Here is what I used.
These things were so gnarly I didn’t even know what they looked like until I scrubbed them down with some soapy water.
But they made this:
So that’s kind of cool. Because it turns out planter boxes are not exactly cheap.
How to make a cheap planter box
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17 board feet of 1×6 lumber (I used four fence slats)
About half a sheet of 3/8 or 1/2″ plywood
1 inch wood screws (I love Spax screws because they are self drilling and don’t split the wood)
*For tools you’ll want a jigsaw, a miter saw, and a drill.
My planter box is 22″ high and 14 1/2″ across at the top. I started by drawing a template on a piece of paper. (Note the template says 13 inches across instead of 14 1/2. The extra inch and a half accounts for the wood that will be wrapped around the plywood template.)
I know, that’s pretty awful. But that’s about the gist of it. I was going to create a template for you to print, but it turns out I don’t really know how. The thing is though, all I did was guess at what looked good. Just make sure it is symmetrical and you’re good.
I traced the template onto scrap plywood. 3/8″ or 1/2″ plywood works great for this. Then I used the jigsaw to cut it out. Your lines don’t have to be perfect, just, you know, try to follow them. Once I had all four sides I bracketed them together with 3/4″ brackets. They were just under $2 for a pack of four at Lowes.
I went ahead and put some screws in after the entire thing was together just for extra stability.
Now for the fun part. Remember that ugly board? This is what they looked like once I scrubbed it all down. These things were in pretty rough shape, so I cleaned up more than I needed just in case some of it was too rough to use.
The key to fitting your wood over the plywood form is to mark, don’t measure. I held a piece up to the plywood, then scribed a line where it should be cut. The slope of my line ended up being a consistent 5 degrees all the way down, so I set my miter saw to that and it was simple from there. Glue each piece to the plywood and clamp it in place. I wrapped the entire top of the box like this first.
This gave me a line to follow down each side. I was able to see where my boards would end. To be honest, my original template was 24 inches high, but I realized that the final slat would have to be ripped to 2 inches, so I simply jigsawed off the last two inches. This made it so that four boards fit perfectly down each side. If you have to rip a board that would look fine, too.
I then worked down each side individually. I attached the boards with glue and then screwed them in from the back so that they would not show anywhere on the face of the planter. Two sides sit flush with the edges, and then the opposite two sides overlap the first set of boards. If you get a gap simply glue it up and clamp it tight. Like so:
I’m kicking myself because I forgot to photograph how I created a stand for the inside of the planter so my plant would not sit all the way at the bottom.
Here’s a lame post-build photo, before filling in the space around the plant and the box:
I simply screwed scrap pieces of wood into the side as nailers and set my platform on top. I put mine at the height of the plant base. That’s probably a lousy description. If you want to know more, please feel free to ask.
That’s all there is to it! I love the old character of this thing. I also love that it has some weight so it won’t be knocked over by the wind. One of the reasons I wanted to put a planter here was to hide the outlet that is right by the front door, and this totally does the trick. See it hiding back there?
Here’s a close up, and the reason I think it’s worth using reclaimed wood. This is character that you just cannot fake.
I completed this planter as part of a front porch makeover that I’m excited to share with you over the next day or two. So keep checking in! As always, please feel free to share any feedback or ask any questions.