If you’re like me, you love crisp, bold modern design, but can’t afford the steep price tag. Inspired by some great hardscape designs, I set my sights on some big, bright modern planters for my porch. I decided that converting an old filing cabinet would create the look I was going for.
What You Will Need: A metal filing cabinet 4 Caster wheels, 1 locking (optional) Sandpaper and a sanding block Power drill and metal bits 16 - 1" bolts, nuts, and washers Rust-proof primer spray paint 2 cans spray paint in your choice of color 2-12"x 24" sheets of aluminum 6-8 self-tapping screws A sheet of plywood Potting soil Plants
Step 1: Get a Filing Cabinet
This is the easy part. With everyone going digital, filing cabinets are no longer a necessity. You can find them at resale shops, on the curb, at government surplus sales, garage sales, and of course on craigslist. Try to find one with a solid bottom. Many filing cabinets don’t even have a bottom, so search until you find one that does. If you must, you can create a bottom (which will be a side, for our purposes.) as per my optional instructions.
Step 2: Remove drawers and any loose rail hardware Pull out the drawers and remove the rail hardware if you are able to. You can leave the dividers or remove them, but I thought they added to the modern look.
Step 3: Add drainage holes and casters Lay the cabinet face-down, so what was the back is now facing up. With a 3/8" bit, drill ten to twenty holes in the bottom on the filing cabinet. This will provide drainage when you water your plants. You can stagger the holes so they are well distributed– they don’t need to be in any particular spot.
Next, mark where the four casters will go on the corners of the cabinet. Pre-drill where the bolts will go on the casters.
Step 4 (Optional): Close up the end (bottom) of the cabinet Before you close up the end, with a bottomless cabinet, you can actually slide the drawers inside, stacked sideways and placed end-to-end. This will help you later when you're filing the cabinet with soil.
Once the drawers are inside the filing cabinet, use a piece of plywood cut to size to close up the end of the cabinet. The piece I used for this project was 18 x 24 inches. Screw the panel in place with self-tapping screws. Place two screws on each side of the panel.
Step 5: Prepare, prime, and paint your planter Using a sanding block, sand the entire visible metal surface of your planter. You’re really just scuffing it up to prepare it for priming. Next, apply an even coat of primer to the entire sanded surface– it will probably take two cans.
Then, taking your color of choice, paint the cabinet. Again, it will likely take a couple of cans to do it.
Step 6: Fill with soil and plants Fill the inside of the planter with potting soil until it is packed firmly. (You can make your own potting soil or buy it.) Plant your plants and water generously. Then sit back and enjoy your beautiful, modern planter!
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