While I'm gardening away, hubby usually occupies himself by breaking out the power tools and building something. Last year, it was this Hockey Stick Muskoka Chair. This year, I was pestering him for more planter boxes in my never-ending quest to squeeze more vegetable plants into the sunny spaces in our tiny urban yard.
We have several of these planter boxes already (the first ones were built during our $75 Deck Makeover) and they're all made from wooden pallets (a.k.a. "skids" around these parts). Wooden pallets are a fabulous source of free wood for small building projects, and if you keep your eye out you're sure to figure out where to find some in your area. There are a couple of places close to us where skids are routinely dumped and left free-for-the-taking, so it's not hard to get a hold of a few whenever we need them.
So, if you happen to need some more planters for your garden, you can either pay a king's ransom for them at the garden centre, or you can make some for nearly free with a couple of wooden pallets and a few other basic woodworking supplies.
Here's how:You'll need:
A selection of wooden pallets
Nails (galvanized) - 4-5 dozen 1 1/2" and eight 2 1/2 - 3"
Table saw (not essential but handy!)
(If you don't have a circular saw, ask around - someone you know will probably lend you one!)
Step 1: Selecting pallets
Since pallets can be constructed from a wide variety of board sizes, if you pick up a few you increase the chances that you'll have enough boards of matching size to build this project. If you have a table saw, it gives you the option of ripping some of the widest boards down to a smaller size if need be.
Step 2: Breaking down the pallets
Before you can start building, you'll want to break down the pallets so you know how many of each type of board you have to work with.
Once you've got everything apart, you'll be left with an assortment of boards like this:
Step 3: Building the planter:
To calculate the length of your first four 2 x 4s, subtract the second measurement from the first (i.e. 14 1/4 - 1 1/2 = 12 3/4")
Now you'll need to cut a second set of four 2 x 4s. These ones need to be shorter than the first set; measure the width of two 2 x 4s and subtract that from the length of the first set to figure out how much shorter to make them. Unfortunately hubby got away from me on the building process while I was on a gardening break, so you're going to have to use your imagination a little more for this next bit - cross your fingers (not while you're using the circular saw, though, okay?) and I'll do my best to talk you through it :)
Basically, you're going to construct two more sides the same as the first set, but the 2 x 4s won't run all the way to the edge on this set, you'll need to centre them in the middle. This is so you can nail the shorter set flush in against the first two sides you built, so they nest together. Make sure the bottom 2 x 4s are at the same height as they were in the first set. It should look something like this:
Once you've gotten your basic box assembled, flip it over so the bottom side is up. Cut some more of your 1 x5 or 1 x 6 boards the right length to nail in place on top of the 2 x 4s - this creates the floor. It's okay if these boards have a few minor gaps or cracks, as that will allow for water drainage.
Now turn it back over so the right side's up again. The last thing you need to do is create the top cap for the planter, which makes it look fancier and hides a multitude of sins that may have occurred during the construction process. Our cap will have an overhang of 3/4". This is what you want to end up with when it's done:
To construct the cap, measure the sides of your box (you may have one longer side and one shorter side). Add 1 1/2" to both measurements (so you have 3/4" extra at each side of the box). Cut two 2 x 4s for the shorter sides, with the ends at a slightly more than 45 degree angle. Set the boards in place on the top of the box, but don't nail them in yet. Lay a second set of 2 x4s on top of the longer two sides. Take a pencil and mark a line across the uncut boards where the already-cut boards line up with the uncut board to get the appropriate angle to cut the second set of boards. Cut the second two 2 x 4s where they're marked and nail all four boards into place. (If your box happens to be a perfect square, you can simply cut all four 2 x 4s at a 45 degree angle and not bother with the angle-measuring step).
You're all finished! Now you just need to prime and paint it (paint only the outside of the planter if you're using it to grow veggies). This is one we made last year that is home to a tomato plant:
Do you use wooden pallets for building projects? What have you made with them?
Love what you read here? Find out how you can help support this blog.
Want to stay connected in between posts?
Click HERE to follow me on Twitter
Click HERE to like Abundance on a Dime on Facebook and get updates and tips on living frugally
Click HERE to like Cheap Appétit on Facebook and get updates and tips on frugal eating and cooking