Introduction: Zen Garden From Scrap Wood

About: Some hooligan with a computer who wants to learn anything and everything. He will post his projects here because Instructables is awesome! Old account:…

If you just got finished building a really cool barstool ( ), you probably have some scrap wood left over. Why not put it to use?

In this tutorial, I will show you how a little scrap wood can be salvaged and used to create a beautiful and minimalist Japanese Zen garden for your tabletop. I had just finished an awesome minimal barstool when I noticed I had soem extra plywood left over. I also found some boards from an old fence out in the trash can a few houses from mine. So, I gathered it and immediately thought of making this because I have wanted one for about a month, but did not want to pay 20-30$ for one.

The wood i got was found in the trash and was in my scrap pile, so this is a perfect instructable for the Trash to Treasure contest.


  • A bandsaw or hacksaw
  • A belt sander and or files and sandpaper
  • Scrap wood planks (0.5 inches thick at most) that you can cut two 12”x3” pieces and two 9”x3” pieces out of them
  • A piece of plywood at least 13”x13” in area
  • Hot glue or wood glue
  • Ceremonial sand at hobby lobby
  • Four long clamps
  • (Optional) wood stain or oil

Step 1: Cutting Your Scrap Wood Planks

In order to get started, you must make the outside box.

  • These boards have a beautiful rustic color to it. I firstly ran it under a drum sander, but sandpaper will do the same thing. This smoothened it out and brought lut that beautiful brown color.
  • Use your bandsaw or hacksaw to cut out two of those 12 inch by 3 inch pieces, and two of those 9 inch by 3 inch pieces.
  • Lastly, use your belt sander or files and sandpaper to smoothen out the shapes and make sure they are completely rectangular

Step 2: Forming the Outer Box

There is a simple trick to gluing them strong without any joints. The box will have a length of 12” and a width of 9”

  • Apply a small amount of wood glue on one endgrain of each plank.
  • Put the glued end onto another plank (9” onto 12”) so that it forms a right angle like shown. Notice how only one endgrain of the plank with glue on is showing. Look very carefully at hiw the wood is placed in the picture
  • Apply clamps to allow it to dry

Step 3: Cutting Your Plywood Base

When the wood glue dries, then the box should be done.

  • Take your box and lay it on your plywood
  • Draw a border using the inner perimiter of the box as a template
  • Cut with a bandsaw (i messed up with the plywood so i used a scrap piece of mdf, which works fine as well)
  • Use sandpaper to clean up the cut and any extra burrs

Step 4: Glue in Your Base

We cut the base along the inner perimiter so the grain of the planks runs smoothly, adding to the aesthetic.

  • Super easy: apply wood glue to the ends of the base
  • Fit it in the box so that it lies flat at the bottom of the box with the glue holding it to the sides
  • Make sure the bottom is level: the bottom of the planks and plywood should be flush

Step 5: Fill Any Crevices and Put in Sand

When youre done gluing, there may be some cracks between the plywood and planks. We can simply use hot glue or more wood glue to fill these in. I used hot glue because it dries faster. Plus, we will put sand on top. No one sill see the hot glue seal.

Finally, put in your sand. I used some white sand from hobby lobby. Make sure it is fine grain sand!

Step 6: Super Cheap Tools

I used a metal fork as a rake and some popsicle sticks that were glued for a flattener. You can surely build your own tools, and i will make a turorial if this instructable gets 6 likes.

Step 7: Finished!

Congratulations! You've just made a beautiful table accessory or gift!

This is a perfect way to unwind for a few minutes, and raking and flattening the sand can help with fine motor control skills.

Thank you for viewing, and please follow, share, and like for more awesoke projects! #hooliganhorde

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