Introduction: One Board Cedar Planter Box

About: Restoring a century home in Cleveland, together with my wife and three cats.

It might be a gloomy weekend in Ohio, but I'm thinking Spring Time, and we definitely need some new planters around the yard. I think these will look nice on our patio, full of herbs for summer drinks!

We moved into a new house last summer, and the yard is very well landscaped; but that doesn't leave much space for gardening or herbs. Buying pots can be expensive, and the stores aren't stocked yet: only answer is to build our own. I'll show you how we build a cedar planter box using a single 6 foot long 1x6 board.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

For this project you will need a single board, I used a 1"x6" cedar board 6’ long from Menard’s; I picked up three for just under $10 each, each board will make one planter that is 18 inches long. Remember, a 1x6 is actually 3/4" thick and 5-1/2" wide.

Take your time at the store and find a board that is relatively clear of knots and without any significant bow, warp or twist. You can sight down the narrow edge of the board to reveal any curve. Cedar is very easy to work with, but having good materials to start with will make this project easier

You will also need 24 wood screws. Try and find a coated screw, but any wood or drywall screw will work. I chose a #8 1-1/4” long coated exterior screw, because I already had them from another project.

Step 2: Find Your Tools

You’ll need a few tools to build this planter box:

  1. A miter saw or hand saw to cut your pieces to length
  2. A table saw to rip the bottom to width and cut the bevel
  3. A cordless drill to drill and screw the box together
  4. A block plane or sand paper to take off the sharp corners
  5. Pencil, square and tape measure to mark your lines
  6. 2 clamps that span at least 20"

Bessey GSCC2.524 2.5-Inch x 24-Inch Economy Clutch Style Bar Clamp

DEWALT DW2711 No.8 Replacement Drill Bit and Countersink

IRWIN Tools Rafter Square, Hi-Contrast Aluminum, 7-Inch

Stanley 12-920 6-1/4-Inch Contractor Grade Block Plane

Step 3: The First Cuts

First, we'll cut the end pieces. These are 9 inches long and cut on the miter saw:

  1. Mark 9" from one end of your board, and use your square to draw a line.
  2. Line up your mark on the miter saw, make sure to leave the line on the piece you want to keep.
  3. Use the piece you just cut to mark another 9 inch piece, this ensures your ends are the same length.
  4. Make your second cut, same as the first. Leaving you with to identical 9 inch pieces.

Step 4: Split Your Sides

Next we will cut the side pieces to length, still using the miter saw, with the same method we used to cut the ends:

  1. Mark 17" from one end of your board, and use your square to draw a line.
  2. Line up your mark on the miter saw, make sure to leave the line on the piece you want to keep.
  3. Use the piece you just cut to mark another 17 inch piece, this ensures your ends are the same length.
  4. Make your second cut, same as the first. Leaving you with to identical 17 inch pieces.

When your finished, you should be left with a piece between 19-1/2" and 20" depending on your board. Next, we'll use the table saw to work this remaining piece into the bottom and handles.

Step 5: Bevel Your Bottom

If you measured carefully so far, you should have a piece left that is about 19-1/2" to 20" inches long. We’ll use this to make the bottom and handles using the table saw to cut the bevels.

  1. Set your blade angle at 25 degrees.
  2. Using the piece you’ll cut measure 4 inches from the fence to where the top of the board meets the saw blade. This can be tricky, try looking down the board to lines it up and don't be afraid to make pencil marksThe good news: you don't have to be perfect!
  3. With your saw set up cut one side of the board off at the bevel.
  4. Flip the board around and cut the bevel on the other side, keeping the bevel side down.
  5. You should be left with a trapezoid shaped piece measuring 4 inches across the long side.

Step 6: Handle Your Goods

For this step, we'll cut the the bottom down to length and make the handles. You can use the miter saw or the table saw, I prefer the miter saw because the bevels cut make it hard to keep the pieces flat against the cross-cut square on my table saw.

  1. Using one of the side pieces, mark the length on the bottom piece.
  2. Then, measure the length of the short leftover piece.
  3. Divide that length in half. Mark a line on your piece. For my piece, I had 3 inches leftover, so I make a mark 1.5 inches from the end.
  4. Using the miter saw, cut off your two handle pieces.

Make sure to line up the blade so you leave your pencil mark on the longer piece. This ensures your bottom lines up with the sides.

Step 7: Assembly Layout

Assembly can take some balance, if you have a second set of hands, now is the time to use them. Or, you can use your chin to hold everything in place, like I did... I find it easiest to attach the sides and bottom to the end pieces first because the planter can be difficult to clamp.

  1. On a flat workbench, stand up the sides and bottom on top of an end piece. Line up the top edge of one of the end pieces. You might have to shift things around until you're happy with the way things look.
  2. Use a pencil to trace the outline. We’ll use this as a guide to mark where to pre-drill the holes.
  3. Using your tape measure, mark the center of the sides at 1" and 4" from the top of the end.
  4. Along the bottom, mark at 3-1/2" and 5-1/2" from one edge.

Step 8: The End Is in Sight

Now we'll pre-drill the end pieces to attach them to the sides and bottom. I used a countersink bit for a #8 screw, if you don't have one, use a 1/8" drill bit.

  1. Stack the pieces on top of each other and drill the holes using a countersink bit.
  2. You won’t go all the way through the bottom piece, but this method marks the holes on the other piece!
  3. Switch to the bottom end piece, with the marks, and drill those holes through.

DEWALT DW2711 No.8 Replacement Drill Bit and Countersink

Step 9: Smooth Your Groove

Now is a good time to smooth off any sharp corners. I used a block plane, but sandpaper works too. My board had some marks from the sawmill, as well as the pencil marks I made. I used 180 grit sandpaper to take these off.

Step 10: Give 'Em the Clamps

This part can be tricky, so take your time. Again, if you have an extra set of hands available, now is a good time to bribe them back to the garage...

  1. Line up one side with the holes you drilled in the end pieces.
  2. Repeat with the other side, take time to line up your holes.
  3. One you're happy, flip the whole unit over and drop the bottom in, you might have to adjust the sides to make the bottom sit level and line up with your holes.

Step 11: Put an End to It

With the clamps still in place, we can screw the ends on.

  1. I hand start the screws, just a half turn in each hole to make driving them in quicker.
  2. Repeat the process on the other end.
  3. When you're done, inspect your work.

I set the bottom up about a half an inch to keep the bottom up off the ground and keep it from staying wet. Also, it helps to keep the planter sitting flat with only the end pieces touching the ground.

Step 12: Pull It All Together

With all the ends screwed on, now we can put some screws through the sides and into the bottom plate. This will help keep the planter from warping as it gets wet and sits in the sun all summer.

  1. Mark a line 1” from the bottom of the planter.
  2. Measure in from each end 1” and 6” to evenly space the screws.
  3. Using your drill and countersink bit, drill holes straight through the side. You may find it easier to start at an angle and then rotate the drill up to vertical.
  4. Drive your screws in and repeat the process on the other side.

Step 13: Get a Grip!

Attaching the handles is the last step for assembling your planter. Be sure to pre-drill all your holes and don’t tighten the screws too hard, the smaller pieces of cedar might split. I stood the planted vertically on my bench, but you can do this on the floor, too. You can use some pieces of scrap wood (like the leftovers from ripping the bottom!) to lift the handle off the floor and support the planter when you flip the planter over.

  1. Mark a line 1” from the top of the planter and center the handle on the end.
  2. Use a clamp to hold everything in place, I like these Irwin Quick Clamps.
  3. Drill a hole on either side of the clamp using the countersink bit.
  4. Drive your screws in slowly, and don’t over-tighten.
  5. Repeat this on the other side.

Irwin Tools 5464 Quick Grip One-Handed Mini Bar Clamp, 6-Inch, 4-Pack

Step 14: Tidy Up Your Work

Nothing is ever perfect, so let’s look at what we’ve made. I have a few things to tune up: a corner sticking out, some tear out on the handle and we’ll look at the bottom.

  1. You can see I’ve got a corner of one of the sides sticking out. It really doesn’t bother me, but I knocked the corner down with a block plane.
  2. Back to the 180 grit sand paper to smooth off any sharp bits, like on the handle.
  3. That small gap along the bottom is no problem - It’s a great drain hole for excess water without letting the dirt fall out.

Step 15: Let's Get Dirty!

All that’s left is to fill with dirt and wait til spring! I used a potting mix, some perlite would probably be a good idea too, and fill to 1” below the top. I’m going to try planting herbs in these for the summer. And knocking together three took about 2 hours. Happy Building!

You read this far... shameless plugs:

Follow me on: InstagramFacebook or Pinterest

Make a Box Contest

Participated in the
Make a Box Contest