I used old cedar fence slats to make stands for some new plants. This is a good material because it's highly resistant to moisture, and it was free.
I've assumed the ability to glue boards together and skipped that step. If you don't know how to glue boards together, try this video
Nice to Haves:
Drill bit to match dowel stock
Stationary Belt Sander
Flush Trim/Pattern Bit
1/8" Roundover Bit
Dowel Stock (We used 5/8")
Boiled Linseed Oil
Step 1: Start with Squares
Starting with a square makes marking easier. I glued up a large rectangle and cut my squares from it, but you could also glue up two, or however many squares individually. I used a table saw sled to cut my squares, but anything that cuts wood will work.
Cleaning up uneven edges from the glue-up is a good idea before marking. Old (or new) hand planes are great for this.
Step 2: Marking
First Find the center. Since my squares are about 13" x 13" - I measured 6.5" from two adjacent edges. I used a trammel/compass from The Home Depot to mark the radius. Since these squares are the same diameter as the desired circles, I place the point in the center and extend the arm to the middle of one edge to define the radius.
Step 3: Drill for Legs
I marked the position of one leg by measuring about 3.5" from two adjacent edges. I used that mark to set up the fence with a stop block on my drill press. After that, just rotate the piece until it's done.
We used a 5/8" forstner bit to match the 5/8" dowel stock for the legs.
Legs aren't necessary, I just liked the idea. You could simply glue a block of wood to the bottom to elevate the platform.
Step 4: Cut and Sand to Line
Since this particular material is very soft, I didn't worry about cutting too close to the line. With a harder material, I'd try to get as close as possible to reduce sanding time. I used a bandsaw for this but a jigsaw/ coping saw would be fine.
Using a stationary belt sander, my wife removed all the material right up to the line. If you don't have a tool like this, try to be as accurate as possible during the cutting and sand smooth by hand, it will be close enough.
Step 5: Trace and Cut Again
If more than one stand is desired, use the first as a template for the others. Trace the template and cut again.
Step 6: Stick and Route
Using double stick tape, stick the rough piece to the template. A pattern or flush trim bit makes quick work of the clean-up.
Step 7: Cut the Legs
I used a bench hook
to cut the legs to length. I slide the dowel to the edge of the bench hook and place the saw against the fence.
Step 8: Optional Details
I chose to chamfer the bottom edge, and ease the top edge with a small round-over (1/8"). The chamfer on the bottom makes the piece look thinner and adds to the slight floating effect. The round-over makes the piece more comfortable to handle and reduces the chance of denting and splintering.
Step 9: Glue the Legs
Pretty simple. No need to be careful, you can't see the bottom and gravity forces the legs to stay in place.
Step 10: Oil and Wax
I used boiled linseed oil and paste wax for the finish. Flood the surface with oil and allow to sit for about ten minutes before thoroughly wiping off. Let the oil dry for a day or two in a warm room. I
For wax, I follow the directions from the can. Wait 10 - 15 minutes after application and then buff with a dry cotton rag.
I prefer this finish because it's simple and you don't have to wear a respirator (linseed oil doesn't smell very good to some people, I happen to like it). The wax provides a protective barrier but allows you to feel the texture of the wood. I like to add three or four coats of wax.
Step 11: Maintenance
Wax finishes wear over time and should be reapplied as needed. I have a number of waxed pieces that have held up with no maintenance for a few years.