Canadian Woodworking

Planter box

Author: Michel Theriault
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: April May 2006

Your patio is something to be enjoyed each summer, and this elegant planter will make your space even more enjoyable.


You can fill it with earth and plant your favourite annuals, or use it to show off an already potted plant.

The construction is simple yet the design is very flexible. The planter essentially consists of three boxes nestled together. We made our planter to fit a 10″ diameter pot; however by simply lengthening the sides, you can make it into a larger square or even a long rectangle. By painting it instead of staining it, we were able to use less expensive pine and didn’t need to be as precise with construction. Two 1″ x 6″ x 6′ pine boards and an 8′ long piece of moulding are all we needed. You can select any moulding that suits your taste.

Glue and nail all four corners

Nail all of the layers together from the inside

Assemble moulding around the top of the planter

• Use a table saw or mitre saw to cut the side pieces (A, B, C, D) for the three boxes. The three boxes nestle inside each other. If you use stock that is other than 3⁄4″ thick, you will need to make the top box first, then measure and cut the sides for the second box, then do the same for the third box. This will ensure the boxes fit snugly together.

• Assemble the four sides of the top box. Apply glue at the joints, making sure the joints are flush. Then nail the pieces together with three 11⁄2″ spiral finishing nails at each joint.

• Assemble the middle and bottom boxes using the same method. Make sure you test fit these two boxes together before gluing up, so that you end up with a snug fit.

• Nestle the middle box into the top box and offset it by 4″ from the top. Using 11⁄4″ nails, tack each side together from the inside with 2 nails per side. Repeat with the bottom layer.

• Cut out the two base supports (E) and the two pieces (F, G) that will form the actual base. Nail the base supports to the inside of the bottom layer 1⁄2″ up from the bottom, centered on opposite sides. The base is installed after the box is completely assembled, with a gap between the two base pieces for drainage.

• Measure and cut the moulding pieces at 45º to fit around the top edge of the planter like a picture frame.

• Glue and clamp the moulding pieces onto the top edge of the planter box. Once the glue is dry, remove the clamps and nail them in place with 11⁄4″ nails.

• Use a nail set to indent all nails on the exterior of the planter, and then fill the nail holes with exterior wood filler. Use the wood filler to fill any gaps in the moulding.

• Sand the entire planter box with progressive grits of sandpaper, starting at #80 and finishing with #220 grit.

• Paint the interior and exterior of the planter with an exterior grade latex wood primer, and then apply two finish coats of exterior latex paint. While we used a classic white, you can choose a colour to match any theme. Sand lightly with #220 grit sandpaper between coats.

• Install the base, ensuring a gap between pieces F and G.

• If you choose to fill your planter with earth, use a plastic bag as a liner, with suitable holes in the bottom for drainage. Alternatively, simply place an already potted plant into the planter box. Use wood, bricks or gravel in the bottom of the planter to raise the pot to the right height. Be sure to protect the planter box from snow during the winter.

The Wood Look

If a painted planter box is not what you have in mind, you can make the planter out of a weather resistant wood such as western red cedar or redwood.

While you could leave these woods untreated, it’s best to apply a weather resistant finish, such as Home Hardware’s “CWFUV Exterior Wood Finish” or “Wood Shield Exterior & Marine Spar Varnish” finish.

Look for a finish that offers a high level of ultraviolet protection as well as mildew protection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More Outdoor projects to consider
Username: Password: