Monday, June 15, 2015

Standing Cedar Planter with Corrigated Steel

After moving earlier this year Kim and I had been going back and forth over where to plant a garden at our new house.  The problem was that there was literally nowhere in our new yard that seemed to get enough sun.  We are living in a Duplex and our side of the duplex is shaded by the house or the many towering trees in/around the property.  The only place we found that got a decent amount of sun was in the driveway in the back of the house.  The other thing we ran into was that since we are renting we couldn't just go around pulling up grass and putting in a garden.  The best solution we could come up with was to build a planter on legs that can support a garden.  We could put it out on the driveway with no problem and the best part is that the next time we move we can take it with us!  Problem solved, now all we had to do was build it.

Here is how we did it, these instructions will build you one planter but you can (and probably will) end up building more once you finish the first one. 

First, here is a list of tools you will need:
  • Chop Saw/Miter Saw
  • Cordless Drill
  • Pocket hole Jig (I use one made by Kreg)
  • Staple Gun
  • Tin snips
  • utility knife or scissors
  • One or two clamps
Next here is the shopping list, you can get everything you need at any big box home improvement store:
  • 6 pcs 1x4x8 Cedar
  • 1 pc scrap 2X4 about 6' long
  • 1 sheet 8'X26" galvanized corrugated steel
  • 1 roll landscape fabric
  • 1 roll wire mesh (36" wide)
  • 1 box 1 1/4" exterior screws
  • 1 box 3/4" galvanized screws
  • Staples
The total build time for an experienced woodworker will be about 3-4 hours.  Probably double that if you are doing this for the first time, but it is a very simple project if you have the right tools.
Step 1:  Cut out all of your cedar pieces to build the frames.

Cut list:
     8x 32" -these will be your legs you should be able to cut 3 each   out of your 8' pieces
     4x24"  -these will be your sides you should be able to cut all four out of the same 8' piece
     4x41"  - these will be the rails in the front and back

Once you cut all of these pieces out you will be left with only one peice of 32" scrap (which you can use to make tomato stakes)

 Step 2:  Assemble the frames

The way this is put together is essentially just building four frames which we then screw together.  Each frame is made exactly the same so I will show one and then the other three are done the same way.

First take all of your 24" long pieces and all of your 41" long pieces you will be pre-drilling all of these.  It is easiest to set up an assembly line and to drill them all at the same time.

Using your Pocket Hole Jig, set the pocket jig to the depth of your material and pre drill two holes on each end.  I wanted to have a "rustic look" so I drilled my holes on the flatter side of the board, that way the rustic side will be facing out.

Once all of the holes are drilled, clamp the rails to the one of the legs and run an 1 1/4" exterior screw into each hole to hold the frame together.  The first rail will be held flush to the top of the leg and the second will be held 16" down from the top, this will give you your 16" depth for your soil.  Attach your second leg to the other side the same way and repeat to build all four frames.

When you are finished you will have four frames that look like this.  Since you used a pocket hole jig all of your connections will be hidden on the inside of the planter so it will give a nice seamless look.

Step 3:  Assemble the planter.

First you will need to drill some more pocket holes.  Take the two smaller frames (the ones that will be the sides) and bring them back over to the bench.  You will drill three pocket holes about equally spaced through the length of each leg for a total of 6 pocket holes in each leg.  These will hold the two side frames to the front.  When the holes are drilled it will look like this:

Once all of the holes are drilled you will need to clamp the side frames to the front frames.  I found this to be much easier if I had a second set of hands.  It is also much easier if you do this part with the frames flipped upside down.  Once the frames are clamped together just simply run screws through the holes again just like when you were building the frames.

Step 4:  Adding supports:

For my supports I am using two pieces of scrap 2X4, now I realize that this wood is not rot resistant, you can use cedar if you want to, or pressure treated wood but I wanted something that would hold a little better than cedar and I didn't want any pressure treated wood to leach into my food.  I figure if it rots I will replace this piece ever couple of years.

Simply cut two pieces to fit the short way across the planter,  run your pocket hole jig one more time and screw the two supports to the bottom of the frame.

Step 5: Add the wire mesh:

At this point you can unroll your wire mesh and cut to size using your tin snips to fit the bottom of the planter.  You are going to want to leave approx 2-3" of extra material that you can roll up the sides of the walls to hold it in place.  The easiest way to do this is to roll out the material on the top of the frame and then cut to size.  Once you have it the right size do all of the bending to make a sort of "tub" with the wire mesh.  Bending ahead of time will save you a lot of heartache.  I also notched the corners so that they would make a nice corner.  Here is how I did that:

 Once in place use your galvanized screws to screw the mesh in place.  I used approx 4-5 screws on each side and then also screwed it down to the supports in the middle.

Step 6:  Add the corrugated steel. 

Using your tin snips cut down the corrugated steel into four pieces.  Simply measure the right distance to cover your holes for the length, and for the height cut the piece directly in half.  This will give you 13" of material which will be just right.

 There are probably better ways to cut this steel but I used my tin Snips.  It will be easy to cut the pieces down to length but it is a pain to cut in the other direction.  If your cuts are not pretty don't worry about it, all of the cut sides will be hidden under the dirt.

Once cut to size, drop the steel in place.  Use care the make sure it is put in so that it sits "flush" along the top end.  This will give it a cleaner look.  You will probably need to drill a pilot hole through the steel first and then run your galvanized screws in to hold it in place.  I used two on each end and then another three or so down across the bottom of each piece.

Step 7:  Add the landscape fabric.

Once the wire mesh is in place roll out the landscape fabric and cut to size to fit the bottom of the planter.  This fabric will ensure that your dirt stays in place but that water can drain.   You are again going to want to leave 2-3" of extra fabric on each side to allow the fabric to ride up the sides.  Attach the fabric using staples.

Step 8: Fill with dirt and Plant away!

Now, that wasn't so bad was it?  The only problem with building these beauties is that once you build one you are going to want more... that might be why I ended up with the second one.  Overall I am very happy with the result.  I hope you have as much fun building these as I did.  Enjoy!

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