Weekend Project

This Memorial Day weekend, I did a small, non-train project. I made a planter box plus an old bed headboard that we had on hand. It went pretty well, in spite of the fact I had no plan. (I should have had a plan.) Here is the basic box-planter. This was built with less than $25 of materials; all cheap cedar fence boards.

Planter before adding plastic liner and soil.

Top trim detail

My first attempt at angled corner trim. It went well.

Finished and planted!

Here it is with soil and plants. My wife loves it. ‘Nuff said?

Cedar Planter Instructions


  • (10) 5/8″x5 1/2″ x 5-foot Cedar Fence Pickets (not dog-eared)
  • (1) 5/8″x5 1/2″ x 6-foot Cedar Fence Picket (good quality)
  • Box of 1 1/4″ Finishing Nails
  • Exterior wood glue (Tite Bond 3 recommended)


  • Table Saw
  • Speed Square
  • Hammer


If the material is of poor quality, get an extra 5-foot board or two to account for huge knots and/or damaged boards. The 5-foot pickets were less than 2$ at Lowe’s and the 6-foot picket was just over $2.

Pick your best two 5-foot pickets to be the front and the next-best three for the back and ends. Use the poorest quality three to make the bottom. The remaining pickets will be ripped into 2 ½” stock for the braces and legs. The 6-foot pickets will be ripped into 1 ½” widths for the top trim.

Rip 3 Boards for the bottom, two 5″ wide and one 4″ wide all cut to 58 3/4″ length. Cut four 2 ½” x 14″ braces, assemble the center T-brace with nails and glue, and nail and glue the braces in place onto the bottom boards. Definitely use a square to make sure this is an accurate rectangle!

For the sides and ends, rip 5 pickets to 5” width. (I did this because 1 edge is typically not in good shape and about 9” deep is fine for planting.) Cut one into four 14” pieces. Use the 2 ½” stock to make the ten 16” leg pieces. Glue and nail the legs to make two end assemblies and two side assemblies.

Put the base on its side, and attach the end pieces with glue and nails. (Use some scraps to prop the bottom up 5/8”.) Then attach one side piece in place, flip the structure and attach the second.

I cut more 2 ½” stock to make three layers of additional support for the bottom, glued behind the legs, essentially making a laminated post at the corners and center.

Rip the 6-foot picket into three 1 ½” strips for the trim. Position each piece on the box with the edge flush with the box inner edge and mark where the angle cuts are to be made. Work carefully and fit each piece.

You may wish to finish this with a colored or clear stain, or leave it to weather to a gray shade. I left my planter natural.

Construction Drawing (PDF): Cedar Planter


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