Three Projects for Gardeners - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Three Projects for Gardeners

 In Projects, Questions And Answers, Techniques

Three Projects for Gardeners

Thrill the garden lover in your family with one (or more!) of these easy-to-make projects.

by Tim Johnson

Before you set aside your push sticks and dust mask for the season, make something to enjoy all summer. Each one of these projects takes only about a day to build, once you’ve got all the materials. They’re designed for outdoor use—made from rot-resistant woods and assembled with weatherproof glue and rustresistant
fasteners. Protected with a finish or not, they’ll enhance your garden or deck for years to come.


Nine-Pot Plant Stand

This sturdy litt le stand is perfect for your deck or patio. It’s got room for your favorite plants and it doesn’t take up a lot of space. When the weather gets cold, you can easily bring it, and a bit of summertime, indoors.

There’s no complicated joinery, just glue and screws. The legs simply chase each other around the base, like a pinwheel. The arms follow suit, but they’re offset, so your plants have plenty of room to grow.

Once you make templates for the legs and arms and the jig for routing the discs, you’ll have the stand together in no time. For tools, you’ll need a tablesaw, jigsaw, router and a drill, plus clamps and a file or
rasp. If you use construction-grade lumber, you won’t need a planer or jointer. Rip the 1-1/2″ square column from a straight, clear 2×4 and use 1x stock for everything else. We went whole-hog, making ours out of mahogany. We spent about $100 for rough stock and milled it ourselves.


How to Build It

1. Mill all the parts to thickness. Cut the column (A), legs (B) and arms (E) to their finished dimensions.

2. Make templates for the leg and arm profiles (Fig. C).

3. Rough out the legs and arms with a jigsaw or bandsaw, about 1/8″ oversize. Smooth the profiles with a rasp and sandpaper, a sanding drum mounted in your drill press, or an oscillating spindle sander.

4. Position each leg on the column and drill pilot holes for the screws (Photo 1). Be sure to mark the legs so they’ll go back on the same column face during final assembly.

5. Round over the edges of the legs, except for portions that support the discs or go against the column (Fig. A). On the column, stop the roundovers 1″ away from the joints.

6. Fasten the legs to the column with
weatherproof glue and stainless steel screws.

7. Attach the column support block (C).

8. Glue the triangular-shaped arm blocks (D), cut from your leftover column stock, to the column (Photo 2). If a stuckon block keeps sliding down the column, pull it off, remove the excess glue and stick it back on. Before gluing on the second pair, plane the first pair flush.

9. Attach the arms, following the same
procedure you used for fastening the legs
(Steps 4 through 6). Make sure the arms wrap around the column in the same direction as the legs, otherwise the discs won’t be properly staggered.

10. Make a jig to rout the discs (Part F, Fig.
A and Photo 3), cut them to rough size and
rout them (Fig. B). Then round over the edges.

11. On all discs but one, drill out both holes left by the jig for the mounting screws. Countersink the holes on one side. Drill out only the center hole on the disc that’ll go on top of the column. Position the discs on the legs and arms, drill pilot holes, and fasten them.

12. To keep your plants from getting blown off their discs by the wind, you may want to install pot spikes (G) in the arms and legs (Fig. A, Detail 1). Drill out the discs’ center
holes, as well as the corresponding screw holes in the legs and arms, with a 3/8″ bit. Then glue sharpened mahogany or white oak dowels into the arms and legs. Slip the discs over the dowels and fasten them with the remaining screws. Stake your plants on the dowels, using the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Provide air space between the pot and the disc by using a plastic “deck protector” (available at garden stores).


Shopping List

• 6 lin. ft. of rough-sawn, 2″ square leg stock 12 bd. ft. of 4/4 stock
• Optional construction-grade materials:
• 1- 2″ x 4″ x 6′ clear red cedar
• 1- 1″ x 12″ x 12′ clear red cedar
• 32 #12 x 1-1/4″ FH stainless steel screws
• 2 #12 x 2″ FH stainless steel screws
• Weatherproof glue
• 5 lin. ft. of 3/8″ white oak or mahogany
dowel rod, for pot spikes (optional).


Click on each image to see a larger version

Fig. A: Exploded View


Fig. A: Detail 1

Click on each image to see a larger version.


1. A stop block ensures perfect alignment when you mount the legs. First, clamp the stop block to the column. Then, clamp the leg to the stop block, making sure the bottoms of the leg and column are flush. After drilling pilot holes, countersink and drill
out the leg holes so the screws will slip through and fit flush.




2. Glue the arm support blocks to the column, two at a time. Keep them properly aligned by going easy on the glue and using finger pressure to initially set the joint. Wait until the blocks are firmly attached before clamping. Once installed, these four triangular blocks create a mount for the arms that’s offset from the legs.


3. Rout perfect discs easily with a simply made twopiece jig. The block allows you to clamp the assembly to your workbench. The template lets you rout the round shape. Orient the screws at a 45° angle to the disc’s grain. Then the disc will be fully supported across the grain when it’s mounted.


Click on each image to see a larger version

Cutting List

Fig. B: Routing the Wooden Disc


Fig. C: Leg and Arm Profiles


Vine Trellis

Make any climbing plant happy with this 6′ tall, free-standing trellis. We used dadoes, glue and screws to fasten the slats because trellises take a beating each year when you tear off the old vines. We built our trellis from cypress, one of the longestlasting outdoor woods. Ours was recycled from old water tanks and cost about $175. White oak, at $60, would also
be a good choice.

Marking the legs for the dadoes can be confusing, but if you follow our marking procedures (Photos 1 through 4, page 6), you can’t mess up. Even with our easy-to-make jigs, routing 68 dadoes is noisy, dusty and tedious (Fig. B and
Photo 5). But once they’re done, the dadoes make assembly foolproof. There’s only one angle to remember: Everything
slopes 6°.

You’ll need an angled template, made with the miter gauge on your tablesaw, to make the dadoing jigs. You’ll also need a router with a straight bit to cut the dadoes,
and a drill with a slotted tip for all the screws. We used a jointer and planer to mill our parts to thickness, but they could also be ripped to size on a tablesaw. The
slats are thin, so be sure to use a push stick.


How to Build It

1. Mill the legs (A) to thickness and cut them to length.

2. Mark the leg dadoes (Photos 1 through 4). The sides of the trellis are tapered, so the dadoes are angled.

3. Cut an 84° angled template, about 10″ long and at least 4″ wide. Use it to set the fence angle on the dadoing jigs (Fig. B).

4. Dado the legs (Photo 5). One jig will slope the right direction for the 3/16″ deep dadoes on one side of each leg. The mirrorimage jig will be correct for the other side.

5. Mill slat material to thickness and rip it into lengths, slightly oversize in width. Then plane (or rip) the slats to fit the leg

6. Cut the bottom and top slats (B through E) for all four sides to length, with a 6° bevel on both ends. You can cut the slats
to length in pairs because opposite sides of the trellis are the same.

7. Frame the front and back faces of the trellis (Photo 6). Align the beveled ends of the slats with the edges of the legs and drill pilot holes. Then drill out the holes in the slats so the screws slip through. Apply glue and assemble.

8. Cut the internal slats (F) to fit, and fasten them, following the procedures in Steps 6 and 7.

9. Stand the assembled front and back faces back-to-back in an “A,” and assemble the sides, following Steps 7 and 8.

10. With a handsaw, square off the legs at the top of the trellis.

11. Bandsaw the spire (Part G, Fig. C). Lay out the pattern on two adjacent faces of a glued-up blank. Make the blank a foot long to keep your fingers a safe distance from the blade. After cutting the first two sides of the pyramid, tape the offcuts back onto the blank. Rotate the blank 90° and cut the other two sides of the pyramid. Cut the second set of tapers the same way. After sanding, cut the spire from the blank.

12. Glue and screw retaining blocks (H) to the bottom of the spire, then soak it in preservative.

13. Screw the optional anchor spikes
(Fig. A, Detail 1) onto the legs.


Shopping List

• 35 lin. ft. (five 7′ lengths) of 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ stock
• 8 bd. ft. of 4/4 stock
• 68 #10 x 1-1/4″ RH brass screws (for the slats)
• 4 #8 x 1-3/4″ FH stainless steel screws (for the spire)
• 16 #10 x 1″ FH stainless steel screws (for the optional aluminum spikes)
• Weatherproof glue
• 8 lin. ft. of 1″ aluminum L-angle (optional).


Click on each image to see a larger version.

Cutting List


Fig. A: Exploded View


Fig. A: Detail 1


Fig. B: Jigs for Routing Angled Dadoes


Fig. C: Tapered Pyramidal Spire



Click on each image to see a larger version.


1. Mark the bottoms of the legs. Bundle the legs together and mark the front and back faces as one pair and the two side faces as the other.


2. Mark the first pair of faces. The dadoes on the front and back faces match, so they can be marked at the same time. Arrange the legs with the triangles at the top. After aligning the ends, draw reference lines every 8″ to mark the dadoes. Then go back and mark the slope, which runs outward from the
center of each pair.


3. Mark the second pair of faces. Rearrange the legs with the circles at the top, and align the ends. Then mark the dadoes, using the same 8″ spacing. This time, however, start 4″ from the bottom. As you can see from the mark on the right, these dadoes are offset from the other pair of faces.


4. Your bundle should look like this. Check to see that each leg has its two outside faces marked, that the marks are staggered, and that the slope of the dadoes is clearly indicated.


5. Cut angled dadoes in the legs. Slide the leg in, topend first, making sure that its slope indicators run the same direction as the jig. Align the dado reference line on the leg with the top inside shoulder of the jig’s dado, clamp and rout. Remember: The reference line always marks the top of the dado and the slope indicator should always be in the router’s path.


6. Assemble one face at a time. Frame each face by fastening the top and bottom slats to a pair of legs. Then mark, cut and install the middle slats




Patio Planter

If you can build a box, you can build this planter. It’s much sturdier than most commercial versions, so it should last for many years. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you to try your hand at shingling!

The opening accommodates a 30″ drop-in plastic window-box planter. They’re available at any garden store in several lengths. You could easily alter the design to fit a different-size box, or to accommodate individual pots. A square version of this planter would also look great.

All the materials you need lie waiting at a full-service lumberyard. You don’t have to be choosy about the CDX exterior-grade plywood, but it pays to look through
the cedar stock for straight, knotfree boards. If you invest in a bundle of top-grade red cedar shingles (about $45),
you’ll easily have enough to cover two
planters. Lower grade bundles cost half as much, but have lots of knotty pieces that you won’t use. Our total cost, including
the plastic planter and top-grade shingles, was about $95.

We cleaned up the 2×6 stock and 5/4 decking with a jointer and planer and cut all the pieces to size on a tablesaw. We used a bandsaw to cut the wide bevels on the top pieces, and a biscuit cutter and biscuits to reinforce the top’s miter joints. However, you can make a simpler version of this planter without having a shop full of tools. Except for the wide bevels, all of the cuts can be made with a circular saw and a 10″ miter saw. Just make the top out of thinner stock and leave it flat (substitute 7/8″ thick cedar siding, the stuff with one rough and one smooth side, for the top and the legs). You don’t have to use biscuits in the miters. Keep the pieces aligned by pin-nailing the corners and let the weatherproof glue hold the joint. A drill, hammer and clamps complete the
gotta-have tool list.


How to Build It

1. Cut plywood box pieces to size.

2. Assemble the box. Exterior-grade plywood is often twisted, so clamp the ends (A) between the sides (B) to help get all the edges flush. Fasten one corner at a time and drill pilot holes before driving the screws.

3. Square up the box by installing the bottom (C).

4. Glue the L-shaped legs (D and E) together. Square the ends and trim them to 14″ final length.

5. Fasten the legs to the box (Photo 1).

6. To match the scale of the planter, the shingles (F) have to be made smaller. Shorten them all to 8 in., measuring from the thin edge, except for the second course, which runs full length (Photo 2). Trim the shingles to width as you go and stagger the seams. Keep the fasteners covered— those on the last course are protected by the overhanging top.

7. Mill the top pieces (G and H, Fig. A). Clean up the wide bevels by sanding or planing, after cutting them on the tablesaw or bandsaw.

8. Measure under the rim of your plastic planter to determine the correct size for the opening in the top. Make adjustments to the dimensions given in the Cutting List and Fig. A, if necessary.

9. Cut the miters. Measure from the inside edges. Make sure both pairs of pieces (sides and ends) are the same length.

10. Reinforce the miter joints with #20 biscuits (Photo 3).

11. Glue up the top (Photo 4).

12. Add cleats (J) and install the top.


Shopping List

• One 6″ x 30″ plastic window-box planter
• One half-sheet (4×4) 3/4″ exterior-grade ply
• One bundle of 16″ #1 red cedar shingles
• 12 lin. ft. of 2×6 red cedar
• 8 lin. ft. of 6″ wide 5/4 red cedar decking
• One box #6 x 1-5/8″ deck screws
• Weatherproof glue


This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 2002, issue #94


June 2002, issue #94

Purchase this back issue.

Click on each image to see a larger version.


1. Fasten the legs with the box upside-down. Keep
the legs flush with the top of the box, and the planter will sit square. Apply glue and hold the leg with a clamp so it doesn’t slip when you drive the screw. Flip the assembly over and install another screw near the top. Remove the clamp and move on to the next leg.


2. Install the shingles in four courses. Lay the second course directly on top of the first, so there’s enough pitch to make water run off. Stagger the seams from course to course, so water won’t seep in behind. Locate nails or staples so they’ll be covered.


3. Cut stacked slots for biscuits, for biscuits, to reinforce the miter joints. Use a spacer to lift the
second slot above the first.


4. Glue the mitered top on a flat surface. Draw the
joints together by alternately adjusting the pressure on the three clamps. Waxed paper keeps the top from gluing itself to your bench!


Cutting List


Fig. A: Exploded View


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