Recycling Paper to Make Seed Pots

Introduction: Recycling Paper to Make Seed Pots

About: Hi I like to have a go at anything that's interesting, from CNC to toy making, recently I have been dismantling an old Cybot to link to Arduino using Scratch for Arduino as the initial language. I have thre...

I've seen a number of these types of seed pots. They are a great way to recycle your newspaper or any other biodegradable rubbish that comes through your letter boxes these days.

Those that I've found have been made by hand either by folding (Origami style) into boxes or by hand rolling cylinders. Im more lazy than that so I thought I would have a go at making a tool to do the job. Please note that this is not unique I believe that there are a number of similar tools, but this is my attempt let me know what you think.

For my example pictures I did use some blue printer paper, but only because I did not, at the time have any newspaper to use.

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Step 1: Recycling

The pot jig was be made from wood and was turned on the lathe.

The wood that I used was an old coffee table leg, the other parts having previously been turned into other objects for friends and family.

To make the best use ensure that you accurately find the center - I used a simple template available from most DIY shops, but if you don't have one then use a straight edge across the corners. If your material is off-center then mark as many center lines as you need to get a good center point.

Once you have the center at both ends use a punch to make a guide point for the lathe centers and mount the wood on the lathe.

I used a roughing gouge to start and then moved onto a scew chisel, you can see that my leg has a notch cut where it was held to the table take care on areas like this the chisel can easily bite in, giving you a bit of a shock.

If you look at the second to last picture for this section you can see the bench under the turning wood this is a good indication that you need to continue to rough the wood down another way is to rest the back of the chisel on the rotating stock - if it bounces then you still have some work to do.

Step 2: Prep the Blank

Once the stock is round (or nearly)cut a tenon at one end. Make sure to include a slight taper this will allow the jaws of the chuck to grip the wood securely. Once remounted in the lathe mark of on the stock the length of wood you need and use a parting tool to start cutting the wood down to a manageable length, I tend to remove it from the lathe when I get to a point where my band- saw can finish off.

Step 3: Jig - Pot Former

Start by marking off the height of the former its up to you, but I think that about 5 to 6 cm should be fine. I then turned a bulb on the end to give the piece a handle - it also helps with the overall look. The turn this section to reduce its circumference giving you a reduction of approximately 1 cm.

This is needed as the finished former will need to sit inside the base and you will be turning the base from the remaining stock once you complete this part.

Once you have the former turned to the required diameter make an indentation into the base leave about half cm edge around the outside. This will allow the paper to deform when pressed together to help give the paper pot a sound base.

Before parting the piece from the stock I gave it a burnish with wood shavings (see step 5) and a little friction polish - this will just help it last a longer and is not a requirement for the paper pots.

Step 4: Start the Base

To turn the base I used the remaining stock already mounted and centered on the lathe - I marked off two circles on the face of the base.

  1. The radius of the outside of the Former, and
  2. The radius of the indentation on the Former

I then cut away the material between the two lines to give me a "trench" for the former to sit. the depth of the trench does not need to be much - I made mine approximately 1 cm.

This left a raised circle of wood in the middle which I then reduced using a bowl gouge until it was about 2 to 3 mm higher than the base of the trench (a small Tenon) this would fit inside the indentation on the Former when it is in use.(See the last picture in the section.

I like the things I make to look good - so a finished the base with a small curve around the outside.

Step 5: Finish the Base

With the shaping done all that was left to do was to sand the base - All sanding for this project is to personal taste, after all its going to be a work horse not a desk ornament, That said I'm picky so once sanded I also Burnished this part and applied the friction wax as I did for the Former.

I then parted the base from the remaining stock taking care to hold the rotating part as the rear spigot was reduced 0 the last rough point was removed with sand paper to allow the part to sit evenly on a surface.

Step 6: Making a Paper Plant / Seed Pot

The jig is a tool that will last you years and hopefully save a lot of pennies while helping to recycle the rubbish.

The first two images show the completed jig (separate and together).

To use it you need to cut (or tare) a piece of paper that is long enough to wrap around the Former (between 1.5 to 2 times around it), it also need to be wide enough to overhang the bottom of the Former.

Wrap the former with the paper and push the overhang around the bottom, then holding the paper in place push the Former into the base and start to rotate (applying pressure at the same time).

The rotate/pressure part only takes a few seconds - the 7th image shows what you are looking for when you lift the former out.

You can now carefully remove the paper cup from the Former. To help hold the top together I usually bend over the top rim this also helps give the pot a bit more strength.

All that's left to do is get planting your seeds - and once they start to grow you simply plant the whole pot out in the Tub or Garden etc and let it disappear as the plant grows out of it.

Thanks for looking. If you like this please take the time to vote for it, or if you want to see others then take a look at my other instructables e.g. or at my web page:

Papercraft Contest

Participated in the
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Woodworking Contest

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest

Gardening & Homesteading Contest

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Gardening & Homesteading Contest

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    5 Discussions


    6 years ago

    you made the task so easy


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks - glad you like it, if I have to do a job thats repeated I like to find the way the uses the least effort and makes the result repeatable


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for leaving feedback on the project, Im glad you liked it, for only being a member since Feb your not doing bad at 11 projects - Ive been one for a few years and have only submitted a few these past weeks(first ones). Yes will click over to you instructables shortly and good luck to you with you guides


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks - its great when peopl like what you have made, and can hopefully find it useful