It was my mum’s birthday in June and I needed a gift idea. She’s typically quite easy to buy for (Candles, chocolates, flowers, any of the above normally goes down pretty well), but this year she was a lot more vague about what she wanted and all she really said was “Oh I don’t know…a plant?”. So I decided that I would add a couple of letters to that suggestion and build her a couple of planters.
The other reason I decided to do this was because I had recently helped my dad to take down an old shed which used to stand at the bottom of their garden. The shed was about as old as the house and so had been there for a very long time. When we took it down, I kept hold of a load of the boards which had made up the base of the shed and I planned to put them to use on this project so that the timber could still be used in their garden, after all these years, but instead of as a shed, they would now form a couple of garden planters…quite poignant I thought 🙂
In my usual TechArt woodworker fashion, I started by designing the puzzle in 3D. This just made figuring out how much wood I would need and it what dimensions etc.
Once I had this worked out the next step was to examine the timber I had salvaged from the old shed
The timber was in pretty bad shape and not all of it was usable. I had to filter out the good from the bad and also needed to take into account how much of each length would need to be removed due to cracking or woodworm damage. I figured out that I had enough timber for the main exterior parts of the planters, but there wasn’t enough to create the legs or all of the interior framework. So I also used a few other spare lengths of timber which I still had from earlier projects to make up the difference.
The next step was to get the table saw set up and start making sawdust…and there was a lot of sawdust! First I cut the legs and then I cut each of the planter sides…there were 32 of those alone!
As you can see from the below picture, there was a lot of waste material to be removed. I would have liked to use more of the wood but sadly a lot of it was just too badly aged or damaged it had to be taken off.
Once everything was cut I was ready to start the build. The first task was to cut notches into each of the interior framework sections. This would allow the framework to slot together easily and be held together with screws. As you can see from the pictures…there were a heck of a lot to cut!
The next step was to drill pilot holes into each of the framework sections and also to counter sink these holes. The counter sinking would allow the screws to bind further into the legs and also provide some weather protection for the screws.
Once these were all drilled the next step was quite simple..just get a lot of screws and start screwing!
I also added extra pieces of timber between some of the framework sections as you can see below. This was for both aesthetic and structural reasons.
Then the lower framework was done in the same way, just by screwing the supports directly to the legs.
And that was a completed planter frame. I simply had to repeat the procedure for the second planter.
I decided to add a couple of coats of finish at this point before adding the sides. This would ensure the inner edges of the framework would be better protected from the weather and (hopefully) mean the planters would last longer. I had some opaque exterior wood stain left over from an earlier garden project which I decided to use on the framework. It was a bit bright but I actually think it looked pretty good.
With that done the next step was to add the sides. I had originally planned to paint the entire planters the same colour. However in the end I decided to leave the sides unpainted. I quite liked the contrast of the newly painted timber with the very old rough look of the old shed boards. I didn’t even bother to sand or clean the sides as I thought the dirt and grime actually helped to tell a story about their history and decided to just leave them as they were with only minimal finishing.
I added the plywood base before adding the final side as you can see.
I used Danish oil to finish the sides, being sure to treat as much of the cut edges as possible (with hindsight I should have done this before attaching them to the framework…but you live and learn).
All stained and oiled the planters looked quite nice. the grime and dirt from the original shed boards actually added a lot to the character of the pieces and I really like them.
Next I had to make a few extra pieces for the decorative tops. I cut them to correct length on the table saw and gave them the same two coats of opaque stain as the legs to finish the look off.
All in all the planters look really nice and I am curious to see what my mum decides to put in them. I am not sure how many years they will last as the timber was not in great condition to begin with, but I am sure she will get 2-3 years use out of them at least before we need to think about making some more…although I doubt they’ll let me pull down their new shed to make the next set of planters anyway 🙂