Thursday, July 31, 2014

DIY X-Side Planters

Tonight I'm finally getting around to showing you some awesome planters that Joe made for us earlier this summer. I had flagged the idea for the planters on a blog called Centsational Girl over a year ago with plans to have Joe make a couple to place on the deck on either side of the sliding door. After building the nice new deck last year, and the table earlier this spring, we decided that it would be a good time to make the planters. Joe took a look at the pictures from Centsational Girl then drew up his own plans for ours. Ours are made with pressure-treated pine boards that are more rot resistant, and once they have had time to completely dry out we plan on painting these with a semi-solid colored stain to help them stand out a bit from the deck boards.

One planter is filled with lavender and rosemary, and the other has parsley, basil, and mint. I love having all these herbs right outside our door! And the plants are much happier than they were in smaller pots on the window sill.

The material list to make one is this:
  • One 1 lb box of 1 1/4 inch exterior screws
  • Four 8ft pressure treated 1x6s
  • One 8ft pressure treated 1x4
  • One 8ft pressure treated 2x2
  • One 6ft pressure treated 1x6 fence picket (rough cut)
  • One sheet of pressure treated privacy lattice (the kind with the tighter weave)
  • Landscape fabric

Some of this we already had on hand from other projects, but if you were to buy these materials, Joe estimates that it would cost between $30 an $40.

So the first step is to cut all the lumber to size. This requires some rip cuts, which are much easier with a table saw. Much to Joe's chagrin, he does not have one. But we do have a Kreg rip cut jig that attaches to a circular saw, and it worked out just fine. Here are the cuts you'll start with:
  1. Rip the 1x4 and one of the 8ft 1x6 boards in half
  2. Cut the remaining three 8ft 1x6 boards into four 20" sections each (you'll have about 16" left over, but save these...we'll use them later!)
  3. Cut the 2x2 into four 2ft pieces

Once you have these cuts made, set one of the 20" sections from each of the three boards together and measure their width. This will make the sides of our planter. Take this width and cut the ripped 1x6 board into eight pieces that are this length. Ours were about 17.5" long.

The next step is to start assembling the frame of the planter. To do this, Joe first used our Kreg Jig Jr to make two pocket holes in each end of the pieces of the ripped 1x6. With the pocket holes drilled, Joe used some of our larger clamps to hold two of the pocket holed pieces between two of the cut 2x2s. One of the boards is lined up with the top of the 2x2s, and the other is placed so that it is 4 inches from the other end of the 2x2s. Then you drive screws into the pocket holes to attach it all together.

Repeat this process to make the other side of the frame, and then you attach the two sides together using a similar process. Now you have a frame! Time to fill in the rest.

Use three of the 20" long pieces of 1x6 for each side and attach them to the inside. You'll want to start the screws from the inside so the heads don't show on the outside. Joe pre-drilled two holes at the top and bottom before attaching them with screws. Do this for all four sides.

Now the fun/hard part! Making the Xs on each side. These are made by making angle cuts on the ripped 1x4 pieces from earlier. One thing you'll notice is that since each side isn't a perfect square, you can't just use the 45 degree mark on the miter saw to cut the ends. Joe being Joe needed to figure out EXACTLY what the angle was and how long each piece had to be. He worked out the math and plugged the equation into his trusty TI-83 calculator to find his answer. He was oddly proud of this part of the project... You could probably just measure it and estimate the length and angle to get close enough :)

Cut the ripped 1x4 pieces into 8 pieces of the appropriate length and the correct angle. Place four of them in each side to represent half of the X for those sides. Then cut the remaining four pieces into two pieces so that they fit into the other two corners to make the X!

Once you have the Xs set into each side, Joe used painters tape to hold them in place. The reason for this is because he wanted to fasten them from the inside of the planter so there weren't screw heads showing. Once the Xs are taped in place, you can set the planter on its side and attach them with screws.

With the sides finished, it's time to finish up the inside of the planter. The planter needs to have a bottom to hold the soil after all! To do this, use the leftover pieces of 1x6 boards to create a ledge on the inside of two of the sides. You should have just the right length of pieces for this from your earlier cuts (hooray reusing scraps!). Then cut the rough-cut 1x6 board into pieces that will rest on those two ledges and screw them in place. We ended up using 1x6 fence boards and a piece of 2x4 because we had them on hand as left-overs from some compost bins Joe made, but you could really use just about anything you want.

The next thing to do is to make a ledge to go around the top. This isn't necessary, but Joe liked that it covered the exposed ends of the planter's side boards. These are simple 45 degree cuts that are then screwed in from the top. No TI-83 calculator required!

Almost there! One thing that Joe did that we haven't seen on other plans was that he used pressure-treated lattice to line the inside of the planter. Then he put a good, thick landscape fabric over the lattice. The purpose of the lattice is to keep the soil out of contact with the planter sides so they can air out. Hopefully this helps them resist rotting and last a lot longer! He just used a staple gun to hold the lattice and landscape fabric in place.

And there you go! Now you have a beautiful and sturdy planter ready to be filled up with soil and some fun herbs or flowers.

Well that was a lengthy post but if you should ever decide to build some planters like these, you now have some good guidelines :) I That's it for tonight, have a great weekend!

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