Introduction: Simple Wood Dowel Plant Stand

About: Maker and Photographer currently located in Austin TX. I tend to make things that involve adding a computer or microcontroller to traditional things: woodworking, 3d printing, art, fabric, etc. and I like to d…

This is a simple wood dowel plant stand I made for my wife. The idea was something light and simple and she wanted something "clean" and minimal for the house.

The whole project is very quick and very cheap for materials, it's only a few simple cuts and a few holes to drill. Staining and sealing takes the most time simply because you need it to let it dry thoroughly between coats. I was able to have the whole thing done and ready for staining in under an hour.

Step 1: Materials

  • 4 x Poplar Dowel 7/8" diameter 2-feet in length
  • 2 x 1-foot long Pine Boards (or Poplar as well) 1/2" by 1 & 1/2"
  • Optional brackets (don't need them, but if you are worried about weight or support you can put them on the underside of the crossbeam and have them be out of view)
  • Wood screws - Flat head
  • Stain - If using two different types of wood, stain will help the different wood colors match. I used Miniwax's Ipswich Pine which is a very light colored stain.
  • Polyurethane - to protect and seal, I used a Matte finish to not put too much shine or gloss and enhance the natural wood look while still protecting the finish.

Step 2: Crossbeam / Centerpiece

I started with a single 2+ foot pine board so I made the cuts making the two 1-foot boards. I used a jigsaw for the cuts simply because the wood was so thin and light that I felt a table saw would have not made as clean of cut. A band saw would probably work equally well.

Mark the center point, and using a 1/2" router bit make a groove that covers about half the depth of the board (3/4"). You want the two boards to go together and be flush. It's easiest to start with slightly less than half the width (3/4") and make the cut slightly deeper and deeper till you get the right depth that makes the two flush when they fit together, I got it very close and then used a wood file for the final adjustments. The cuts should be at just the right size that the two fit snuggly together at right angles so no brackets or screws are needed and so a plant rests flat and secure on the crossbeam.

Step 3: Legs / Supports

The top of the crossbeam sits an inch lower than the half way point on the dowel, so if the dowel is two feet in height, an inch less at mid-way means the top of the crossbeam is 11 inches from the ground. I placed one screw in the middle of the crossbeam (I later added a small nail just above the screw). In retrospect I should have used two equally spaced screw holes in the crossbeam. If the weight and any forces are not directly down on the cross beam then the legs are going to want to rotate which will lead to the wood splitting or the stand falling over.

Find the 11" mark from the bottom of the dowel, split the 1 & 1/2" board height into two equally spaced holes, which is a hole at 1/2 inch intervals, meaning a hole at 10 & 1/2" and one at 10" on the dowel. Mark the locations on all 4 dowels.

Tap and then drill out the holes in the dowel and crossbeams. Use a tap to make a small dent this keeps the tip of the drill bit from moving and puts the hole centered at the exact location. Drilling out the hole helps prevent the wood screw from splitting the wood as it's screwed in, the hole is slightly smaller then screw so the threads still grip securely but it doesn't put any additional strain on the thin wood causing a split.

In order to get the crossbeam to sit flush against the dowel legs you'll want to round the crossbeam edge. I used a dremel with a sanding bit to get the right shape. Start small, groove it out a little, see how it fits, adjust and repeat.

Step 4: Assembling & Finishing

A little wood glue on the crossbeams before screwing them in helps make a nice secure joint, and it helps to secure it against those horizontal forces. Be careful not to put too much or it will run / seep out of the joint and down the wood, then you'll have to sand and clean that all off before staining otherwise you'll get splotches where the stain won't penetrate the glued wood.

I used flat head screws so they end up slightly indented on the board.

I rounded the edge of the dowel tops to give it a slightly more finished looked, it's very quick and easy with a sanding block or Dremel.

You want to sand everything down with a light sand paper, like 200 or higher grit, especially any glue that ran out of the joints and then clean off all that dust before staining.

Apply the stain, let it sink in for 15 mins, then wipe away any excess with a cloth. Don't allow the excess to dry on the wood.

Apply a light coat of polyurethane, allow it to dry for about 2 hours and apply another coat. I used a total of 3 coats and then let the final coat dry overnight before I put the stand in use.

Step 5: Final Product and Thoughts...

Our stand ended up at the kitchen window. It can hold a lot of weight so a good-sized plant, pot, and wet soil holds just fine as long as the majority of the weight is straight down on the legs and crossbeam. As mentioned, any horizontal forces are what can cause the stand legs to split or break, so in retrospect I wish I used two wood screws rather than a single screw and nail, though we haven't had any problems with our setup.

The light stain combined with the matte polyurethane gives the whole stand a natural look that we were very pleased with, while at the same time protecting the wood from any moisture as well as dings and scratches.

My wife was very pleased and wants additional stands as well as different sizes to go with this stand, so back to the workshop....