Reclaimed Planter Box





I made an instructable and my friend said she liked it. The No Plan Planter Box was born and my friends first woodworking project.


  • ~35 cedar slats
  • outdoor glue
  • nails of various sizes
  • 3 - 2x4s (we used treated)
  • screws


  • table saw
  • miter saw
  • skil saw w/ straight edge
  • drill
  • nail gun
  • measuring tape

These are the tools we used for the project because we have access to them. It does not mean you couldn't make a beautiful planter box with fewer or different tools.

Because this planter box was made without a plan. I don't have one to share. The overall dimensions are ~69"x20"x24". If anyone would like a plan drawn up to help them create a box I'm more than happy to do it upon request.


Please read, understand, and follow instruction manuals for all power tools. Wear your safety glasses. Also remember to look out for loose fitting clothing and long hair.

Step 1: Plane and Joint

Depending on the look of your planter you may skip this step.

We wanted something similar but slightly more rustic than the barn door. Jointing the slats and glueing probably add durability. I thought it would reduce dirt falling out of the planter as well but with landscaping fabric I'm not sure it would make a difference.

Step 2: Glue & Sand Panels

You'll need 2 end pieces and 2 long pieces.

Apply a generous amount of glue and clamp together. Feel along to joints to and make sure that the slats are flush with one another.

If you want a rustic old fence look skip the sanding step. We just aggressively sanded with 80 grit paper until all the imperfections and glue marks were removed.

Step 3: Cut Panels Height

Make all the panels a uniform height by ripping on the table saw.

Step 4: Cut Panel Length

Using a straight edge and a skil saw to cut out the panels to length.

The ends should be the same size and the front and back panels should be the same size.

Step 5: Make a Box

To add some strength to the weak butt joint cut 8 slats to the height of your box. They will be covered in dirt so these don't need to be pretty.

Glue and nail the slats to the back of the panels 1 slat distance from the edge. Shown in the second photo.

Secure some 2x4 at the bottom with some screws.

Depending on how depth of the soil place more 2x4 support. She wanted a soil depth of 13". I glued and nailed the support brackets at 14.5" inches from the top. Screw in the the 2x4s from the outside.

Step 6: Add Trim

Butt joints are typically ugly. Add some nice mitered trim for a more finished look.

The bottom trim and top cap pieces were ripped to a uniform height (The bottom is wider than the top trim) with the table saw then cut at 45 degrees with the miter saw.

Cut the edge cap pieces at 45 degrees on the table saw then cut to height with the miter saw.

Apply some glue and secure with some nails.

Step 7: Apply Finish

That photo was taken with one coat of the natural clear danish oil. The final box has two coats on.

There are many options to finish cedar such as: sealers, oils, stains, painting, or doing nothing and leaving the wood that natural gray. Because this planter is covered we went with danish oil. If it was exposed to the weather more I may have decided to use something else.

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    12 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 7

    Nice project! Did you just fill the whole box with earth or did you use some sort of fabric or plastic to make a pouch inside?

    dragon flyer

    Tip 1 year ago

    I line the sides of my wooden planters with plastic - garbage bags will do in a pinch, but something a bit heavier is good - to hold in the dirt and minimize water loss. Landscape fabric on the bottom helps keep the dirt in and provides drainage. (But only one layer; I drowned a climbing hydrangea last winter and discovered after the fact I'd inadvertently got two layers over the drainage...)

    1 reply
    shippityboppitydragon flyer

    Reply 1 year ago

    Because we glued the slats together I haven’t noticed any leakage but that’s a good idea.


    1 year ago

    looks great. I love woodwork!


    Question 1 year ago on Step 7

    This looks great. Where did you get the reclaimed cedar? Thanks for sharing.

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    The fence, it blew down this time. It seems to be the source of most of my instructable projects.


    1 year ago

    The finished product came out great! But the photos of loose hair hanging inches away from power tools is honestly terrifying. Keep up the good work, but maybe with the hair tied up! Thanks for sharing!

    2 replies

    Thank you for pointing that out. That is definitely cringe worthy even though most of the photos were staged, there is a baby in one with a table saw. I added a disclaimer anyway so everyone is safe in the shop.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it!


    I agree - seeing you holding the kidlet at the saw made me cringe! (I'm bald, but I've got a long beard - just right to get caught in the lathe... :)

    SAFETY FIRST everyone! Fingers don't grow back!

    That all said, the planter is beautiful - will share it with my daughter; she's doing some reclaimed-pallet-wood projects right now.


    1 year ago on Step 7

    If you line your planter boxes with plastic sheet (4-mil black landscaping works well) it will keep water from leaking between the boards and staining the outside.