Step 1: Supplies
- 2 X 4 X 8, ~ 115" total
- (8) 2 1/2" #8 wood screws (I chose to use black oxide because I liked the color)
- (32) 3/4" #8 pan head screws (also in black oxide)
- Steel sheeting (~3/32"), enough to cut out (2) 9.5" X 50" rectangles
- Variety of moss*
- (2) 8qt bags of potting soil
- Chicken wire (1" weave) ~ 9" X 47"
- Spray bottle
- Jointer (optional)
- Planer (optional)
- Chop Saw
- Rotary Sander
- Tin Snips/Wire Cutter
Step 2: Make the Frame
The 2 X 6 I had was a little rough around the edges, so I decided to pass it through the jointer and planer a few times to square things up and smooth things out. If your lumber looks pretty square and/or you don't care 100% how perfectly square your frame is, this step can definitely be skipped. Also, if you are using engineered wood (plywood) you will definitely skip this step.
First, run the board through the jointer (face down), only taking a very small amount off with each pass (1/32"). Once the face of the board looks smooth and even, pass the board through the jointer with the edge down. You will want to double check the jointer is set at 90° before doing this. Now you have a face and an edge that meet at 90°.
Next, pass the board through the planer. Make sure you are planing the side that didn't go through the jointer. Plane the board down to 1.5" thick.
If you don't plane your boards, leaving them at 1.75" is fine, you'll just have to alter your other measurements throughout the process.
After planing wood, it is recommended to let the board rest for a day or two. Planing relieves a lot of stress and moisture from wood. If you want precise cuts, letting the boards rest before you cut the boards down to size is a good idea. I let my boards rest overnight.
Using a chop saw, cut the boards into the following four pieces:
(2) 47" long
(2) 9.5" long
If you didn't plane your wood and you're working with a raw 2 x 6, use cut your wood into these dimensions:
(2) 46.5" long
(2) 9.5" long
Using the router table, I routed a 1" (deep) X 1/4" (wide) ledge into both of the 47" pieces. I used a 1" router bit and set the fence on the router table to 1/4".
The purpose of this ledge is to create an area to easily attach the chicken wire. It wouldn't hurt anything to make the ledge wider than 1/4". It would actually make the stapling easier if you made the ledge 1/2" wide.
Now it's time to assemble the frame. For assembly you'll need the (8) 2 1/2" wood screws. Align the frame, drill the holes for the screws, then screw it all together. I used 8 screws total, 4 on each end, 2 per joint. See notes on photo.
Once the frame was assembled, I used a hand held rotary sander to smooth out any rough spots and remove remaining pencil marks from earlier measuring. Make it splinter free!
Now, the frame is finished! Onto the next step...
Step 3: Cut the Steel Back and Front Plates
The back steel plate measures 50" X 9.5". This was very simple to machine with the water jet. I simply created a rectangle with the desired dimensions and saved it as a vector file. Then I opened the vector file on the water jet, made some adjustments and then cut the rectangle.
The front steel plate was slightly more complicated because I chose to cut out the word 'Instructables' in the steel. Once I had my vector file with the word Instructables inside a rectangle, I opened it up on the water jet. This was more complicated because I wasn't just cutting out a rectangle, but all of the odd shapes around and within each letter were cut out too. I just had to be extra careful when choosing my cutting path that I didn't damage the nozzle of the water jet. The final dimensions of the front steel plate was also 50" X 9.5".
There is a lot of creative freedom to be harnessed in this step - to cut something entirely different out of steel. You could do designs, other words or sayings, etc.
Step 4: Attach Back Plate
Next, I clamped the steel plate to the wood frame and drilled holes at all of the marks. I made sure to drill all of the way through the steel, but not very deep into the wood. Make sure you use a drill bit that is the same size as the screws.
After drilling the holes I attached the plate using the 3/4" #8 screws.
Step 5: Add Dirt
Now, it's time to add the potting soil. I used about 1 1/2 8qt bags of potting soil. You want to fill the potting soil to the bottom of the ledge that is routed into the frame.
Pack down the dirt a little bit with your hands.
Step 6: Attach Chicken Wire
I decided to make some of the chicken wire holes a bit larger in places. I laid the front steel plate over the frame. Using tin snips, I made some of the holes larger (in random places around the letters - see photo). I wanted a few larger areas to secure the moss.
Step 7: Plant Moss
Once you have planted all of the moss, give it a good, healthy dose of water. The moss and dirt will both soak up a lot of water, so you don't have to worry about it seeping out the bottom.
Step 8: Attach Front Plate
Place the front plate into position on top of the frame and attach with the same screws as you attached the back plate. To keep the plate from shifting around while you're screwing it in place, attach the four corners first, then screw in the rest of the screws.
Step 9: Water and Wait
Water it every couple days with a spray bottle.
If you want the steel to rust faster, wipe it down with some rubbing alcohol. Steel sheeting is often coated with oil to prevent rust. The rubbing alcohol will remove any of this oil, making rust happen faster. You can also take a little sand paper to the steel to increase the speed of rusting.
The steel has been rusting really nicely. There are quite a few really bright orange areas. The moss has turned a bit brown though. I'm not sure if this is due to overwatering (I did get pretty excited with the spray bottle in my hopes for more rust), or not enough sun/too much sun. I figured the moss didn't need much sun because it's a shady-moist forest kind of plant.
If there are any moss experts out there I'm open to advice!
After 2 weeks, I turned the planter vertical. All went well and the moss and dirt didn't come spilling out.
Step 10: Voila!
And hope that it greens back up again.
Notice the cute little leaf that sprouted! I don't think this leaf belongs to the moss. It will be interesting to see what else sprouts!