Bird’s Mouth Hollow Spar Planter Made From Pallets




About: I like to design and build random things.

About a year ago, I was given multiple industrial strength pallets made from 2x6s. After giving up on trying to pull the long sections apart, I used a circular saw to cut out what I consider the usable material. I was left with forty 2x6s, each ~ 14” long. The stack has been sitting on my floor for months so I finally decided to build something.

This design is pretty simple and is a variation of my 2x4 plant stand shown here. After comments from my kids that the plant stand looked like an industrial wire spool, I tried to fancy this one up by using two color stains which allows you to see the shape a little better.

Although I built the planter from 2x6s, other boards (2x4s, 2x8s, etc.) will work. If you would like to know more about Bird's Mouth Hollow Spar construction or the math involved, see links here and here.

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Step 1: Tools/Materials


  • Table saw
  • Sander
  • Drill
  • Pocket-Hole Jig (optional)


  • 2x6 by 10 feet
  • Water Resistant Glue
  • Wood screws: 1.25” long (x4), 1.5” long (x8)
  • Paint or Stain

Step 2: Build Plans

You will be building to these plans. The parts are color coded for easy reference.

Step 3: Pallets

Started with these beefy pallets. I used a circular saw to cut out the 2x6s.

Step 4: Cut Sides to Length

Cut the 2x6s to 12” long using a table or miter saw. You will need 8 of these. Depending on your preference, you might want to hit the boards with a sander at this point.

Step 5: Add Bird's Mouth Cut

Being pallets, the boards were pretty beat up. In addition, the rounded edges were not desirable for this build. Therefore, I cut off 0.25" from each side of board. This reduce the width from 5.5" to 5.

Set blade on table saw to 45 degrees. Raise the blade so it cuts exactly to the midpoint. This step might take a few iterations. Practice on a scrap piece of wood. Cut both sides to a make a v-notch (bird’s mouth cut) in the board. Repeat for the 7 other boards.

Step 6: Add Color

As I said earlier, I wanted a contrast between the pieces so you could see the actual shape. I stained half of the sides with Walnut and the other half Cabernet.

Step 7: Dry Fit

At this point, you might want to do a dry fit. At the same time, it’s a good idea to choose a top vs. bottom side. I tried to place the best cuts (tightest fit) on the top (plant) side.

Step 8: Glue

Add a liberal bead of water resistant glue down the center of the notch for each of the eight sides.

Step 9: Pull Together

Use ratchet straps to pull the pieces together. I used three straps which seems good enough to get adequate pressure. Wipe off excess glue.

Step 10: Base Parts

The base is attached inside the planter. If you built the design as provided, the dimensions should work as shown in this step. However, I suggest you measure the distance across the inner flats to verify.

I used a cross-shaped support for the base. For the notch, I measured to the center of the boards and then marked off the width of the adjoining board. Set the blade of the table saw to half the width of the board (.75”). Make multiple passes at this height to remove the material. Repeat the process on the second board.

I used a pocket-hole jig to add holes to the ends of the boards. An optional approach would be to drill directly through the sides into the base. If you go with this route, you will need to either fill the holes or leave the screws showing.

Step 11: Assemble Base

The boards were attached with water resistant glue and 1.25” long wood screws.

Step 12: Attach Base

To allow for water drainage, I placed the base 0.25” from the bottom of planter. Note that this leaves the inside depth at 10.25” (12 - 1.5 - 0.25). Use eight 1.5" long screws to attach the base to the sides.

Step 13: Box Without Plant

Before adding polyurethane, I ran the sander along the outer edges. Again, this was my effort to try to give the boards more contrast.

Step 14: Plant Added to Planter

The reason for the planter box is to provide a more attractive/sturdy place for your plant. This example shows an indoor plant placed in the box. You could also add a liner and fill the planter with dirt. Note that I made this version from pallets so I wouldn’t suggest edibles. Choose a cedar or other rot resistant wood if you go that route.

Step 15: Final Product

Added moss around the stem of plant to cover plastic pot.

Step 16: Optional Design

Here is the plant Stand with similar construction.

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    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    If anyone is interested, the planter is sitting on a table I built last year.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I don't have a router table but I think that might make a cleaner and more uniform cut than the table saw.

    mtairymdTeenage Kicks

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks. You might be able to do them on a miter saw. I don't know of a way to do it with hand tools.