Introduction: Scrap Wood Planter

About: Love using my 3D printer as a tool for DIY, not just printing trinkets.

This is a project for building a planter out of scrap wood. In this instance I used wood from a discarded pallet, but I've also done this with scraps of decking wood. Hopefully by following this guide, you too can have a fun, homemade planter!


- Scrap wood

- Binbags or other waterproof material

- Saw

- Hammer and nails AND/OR screwdriver and screws AND/OR woodglue

- Soil

- Plants/Seeds

- Drill (optional)

- Fairylights (optional)

- Tape measure (optional but get one if you don't have one, it's such a good DIY tool)

- Right angle brackets (optional)

- Staples (optional)

- 3D printer (very optional)

Step 1: Basic Design

Sketch out how you're going to make your planter. For the pallet wood planter, I joined together sections of wood with cross pieces, then used these to make up each side.

For the smaller decking wood planter, I used a base piece of plywood and right angle brackets to mount the sides.

Your design will depend on whatever scraps you have!

Step 2: Get Lengths/Dimensions

I find it helpful to have a starting point for dimensions. For the large planter, I based the length of the total length of my pieces of wood, to minimise the amount of cutting to do.

For the small planter, I had a plastic tray that I could line it with, so I based the dimensions off that.

After getting a base dimension, I decided how long the parts I'd need to cut would be. I then itemised these on a list. For example, on the large planter, I used the following list:

- Whole plank length 7 off

- 0.15 m 4 off

- 0.1 m 6 off

For measuring, I find that measuring at the top and bottom of the wood, then joining the points with a straight edge ensures that you should get a perpendicular line. If you have a square, then you can just use that!


You'll get less error if you take the tape measure across the whole length and then mark off where you want to cut. For example, if you want 5 off pieces of 0.1 m, you could measure from one end to 0.1, do a line, then measure another 0.1 from that line. This is fine, but there is a better way! If you take your tape measure over the whole length and mark at 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 and so on, then you'll lower your measurement error. It'll also be faster, so win win!

Step 3: Cutting Pieces

Time to cut your pieces


Make sure your wood is secure when cutting. I'd recommend having a foot on top of the piece to stop it from moving. To make a good cut, put your thumbnail up to where the line you drew is, then draw the saw backwards with it running against your nail. After you've made a small groove, move your thumb away and start the proper sawing motion. It's a marathon not a sprint, so don't tire yourself out too fast!

Step 4: Assemble Planter

Assemble your pieces as you drew it up in your plan! As these don't bare much weight, it's ok to nail or screw into the sides of the wood, though using right angle brackets is better. If you don't have any to hand (like I didn't) then you can always try and make some. I used nuts and bolts with 3D printed brackets on my small planter

For my larger planter, I made up panels with nails and boards that I then joined together with screws. For the smaller one I used brackets.

I've got some general tips for whichever assembly method you use...

Step 5: Assembly Tips

Hammer/nail tips

Make sure your parts are lined up, then gently tap in a nail held as low as possible. You can also use a peg for this if you really don't want to hit your fingers! After the nail stays up without being held, it's time to start hitting it harder. The best tip anybody ever gave me for hammering is don't imagine hitting the top of the nail, think of hammering straight through the nail and into the wood. Think of it like a golfer, they don't stop when they're about to drive the ball, they blast right through it and follow through for maximum power!

Screws/screwdriver tips

I find it useful to predrill the holes to a smaller diameter before screwing. For example, if your nails are around 3 mm, a 2 mm predrill hole will help greatly. If you want to go one step further to making your life even easier, you can drill the first piece as a through hole (e.g. >3 mm) as you don't actually want the screw to be cutting in to your first piece of the wood. The fastening force comes from pulling the head of the screw into the first piece.

Glue tips

I didn't use glue on either of my planters, but wood glue is a good tool! General tip is make sure the parts you're sticking are loaded whilst the glue dries. You can do this with a pile of heavy items or by using a clamp (or using your hands if you've got quick drying glue and/or nothing better to do!!)

Step 6: Add Lining

Line your planter with whatever waterproof material you can get. For the large planter I used bin bags, and for the small planter I had a tray that I based my design around. You could use cling film, tin foil or carrier bags just to give a few suggestions.

For holding them down, I used these cable clips, but you could use regular nails, staples or hot-glue.

Step 7: Add Soil and Plants!

The last step, add some soil and plants! If all goes to plan, there shouldn't be any leaks when you water it.

Step 8: Bonus Points, Fairy Lights

For the large planter, I added some solar powered fairy lights for an extra bit of magic!


Scraps Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Scraps Speed Challenge