Introduction: Bark Planter

"An urban forest is a forest or a collection of trees that grow within a city, town or a suburb. In a wider sense it may include any kind of woody plant vegetation growing in and around human settlements. In a narrower sense it describes areas whose ecosystems are inherited from wilderness leftovers or remnants."-- Wikipedia

Most everyone notices when an old, familiar tree goes missing from their neighborhood, but an opportunity has been created in firewood bundles, recycled lumber, and even handcrafts.

My supplies, here, were just tree bark and old fencing. I have recycled the nails, and found handtools (with most of their parts) at estate sales. This cost me nothing, except the effort of doing it.


Bark, nails, wood glue, clear finish, hand saws, typical wood working tools.

Wooden jigs, from recycled scraps, are cheap alternatives to metal clamps.

A door planer and belt sander are cheaper alternatives to the industrial-sized versions.

Coordination with old-fashioned handtools is invaluable.

Step 1: Safety

I normally believe that the safest thing is to have vision, unobstructed. I would like to be able to physically touch every work surface, and have my full range of motion.

But, the bark shown raises unpleasant, reddish, stinging dust, if worked on a power tool. It does not simply fall to the ground like typical sawdust, but will cling to every surface, in an enclosed area. Work outside, or with a vacuum vent, if you are lucky enough to have one. Cover your mouth for this job, if you will be working it, at high speed.

Is it thick? That is the tough skin of a giant. It is not prone to fracture, if it is very thick, and you have steady hands.

But, I remove any sharp sticks. Get rid of any weird shapes (that you don't like) or anything that is bound to get caught up in machines, with simple hand tools, first.

Then, I only machine a little bit at a time, with the minimum amount of effort, am never forceful.

A finished piece has the heft of a small board, in your hand. All of the layers look like plywood, on the side. It is not delicate, or use at your own risk.

Step 2: Rectangles

In my head, I am breaking this down into flat surfaces and right angles.

I need to come up with flat, squarish surfaces that can be put in a table saw, miter box, jointer, or plainer.

Step 3: Testing

To be simple, all of the pieces in these planters have been cut to the same width.

You should probably pre-drill, before nailing or screwing, but this material will accept finishing and even construction nails, without splitting.

Test on a sacrificial, unwanted piece, if you are not completely sure. Test finishes, test cuts, test fasteners, for confidence.

No backing is necessary, unless you like the look of old barnwood.

While coarse and oxidized finishes are desirably-rustic, patterns will be hidden inside.

Step 4: Display

I find that this is functional, because I start many small plants, and plastic planters do not last forever in full sun.

These cut flowers are in Mason jars, full of water.

But, these boxes might hold clear food trays, or tin cans, or pond liner, or recycled sand bags... Anything, where a live plant could be grown.

When you are done, compost it, and grow more flowers in the soil.

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