Introduction: Shrink Pot Planter
Hi hi, I've been reading a bit about different green woodworking processes online recently and I decided to have a go at making a shrink pot for a little plant. Just to get to grips with the basic idea really. This is the first shrink pot I've made but I'm sure it won't be the last one! You can make your own with some pretty basic woodworking tools, all that's really essential is a drill, a chisel/gouge, some auger bits and a woodcarving knife.
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Find Wood!
First thing on the agenda is finding some wood! It needs to be green wood, fresh off the tree, I sliced mine off a branch that'd fallen in the road. It's important it's green wood because as it dries it'll shrink, wedging the base of the pot in tight. Other than that any size/species will do. I cut a piece about 15cm long to start working with.
Step 2: Mark Her Out.
Next up I used callipers to roughly scribe out the thickness of the wall. I went for 18mm, but you can try whatever thickness looks proportional. If you've got a nice round log you can use a compass for this step, or just mark it out by eye. I ran a pencil round too so I could see the ring a little better.
Step 3: Get Drilling.
Grab a drill and some auger bits and hollow the wood out. The size of the bits doesn't matter really, if you've only got wee bits you can just drill more holes. The trickiest but is to drill all the holes straight and level, the back side of mine was a little wobbly but luckily the bit slanted deeper into the waste, so no problemo.
Step 4: Clean Up.
Ideally you'd use a nice sharp gouge but I made do with a chisel and mallet. I shaved down the excess as close to the line as I could, working from alternating sides bit by bit. It's best to take it steady with the mallet, run nice and easy so you don't split the body of the pot.
Step 5: Tidy Up.
I used a nice sharp knife to smooth out the inside of the pot. Any knife will do, as long as it's sharp and a little stout. If you have a gouge just use that instead of the chisel and you can forget about this step.
Step 6: Top Ring.
This is an optional step really, I wanted to suspend the planter with string, so made this part to keep the string parallel and out of the way of whatever plant is sitting in the pot. I cut a ring off the end of the wood and neatened it up with the carving knife. Part of it was a little weak so I sliced it out before it split.
Step 7: Whittle Down the Sides.
The edges of the planter were still covered with bark, I wanted a nice clean surface so I went at it with a knife. I stripped off the bark, smoothed out the sides and then added a little decoration on the top edge. There's plenty of options for the outside, you can leave the bark for a more "loggy" look, or with some gouges you could add some more decoration.
Step 8: Cutting the Base.
For the bottom you need a piece of dry wood, any scraps you can find will do as you only need a little piece. Something about 5mm thick would be ideal. Sit you pot on top of the wood, use a pencil to trace around the hole. Then cut along the line with a coping saw, or a band saw if you've got one. I gave it a quick sand on the machine to neaten it up, but you could do this by hand with sandpaper. Take the edges back bit by bit until you get a nice snug fit.
Step 9: Score a Line.
The base needs a little lip to sit in as the pot shrinks around it. I taped a little cutdown pencil to a bit o' wood and stuck that down to the table, this made it easy peasy to pencil a line around the inside. You could maybe use a mortice gauge too, but this works just fine.
Step 10: Slice It Up.
Grab your knife and slice along that fresh line. I went in at two different angles and then popped the waste out with the tip of the knife. This bit is pretty fiddly so just take your time, it doesn't matter if the groove is a bit wavy or an inconsistent width, so long as it follows the line.
Step 11: Chamfer That Little Fella!
Now you need to create a bit of a chamfer on the edge of the base, this is what wedges into the groove. Once the pot has shrunk the bottom pice should be jammed right in. This is another fiddly bit so again take you time it doesn't need to be perfect. And take care of your lovely hands too, try not to slice them, think through each cut before you make it. It you don't fancy doing this with the knife you could use a rasp and some sandpaper.
Step 12: More Decoration?
My planter was looking pretty plain, which is fine of corse. But I just fancied adding another detail in the middle, one simple old groove. Again you could carve tons of detail into this if you wanted, or just keep it plain. If you're not into carving you could break out the paint and brushes.
Step 13: Holes
I used a drill to put three holes in the planter body and three in the top ring. Make sure they're lined up or it'll all hang kind of wonky. Almost there now, the pot just needs to do its shrinky action. It's best to leave it wrapped in a cloth in a relatively cool place to slow the process. You don't want it shrinking too fast because it might split.
Step 14: Apply Finish.
There's all sorts you can whack on for a finish, I chose raw linseed oil because I had it in my cupboard. I gave the planter a good long soak (about ten minutes) and then wiped off the excess, and repeated that a few times. You might want to use a bit of stain or use some spray on finishes, maybe even a bit of paint. Whatever you go for, make sure you do it AFTER the pot has done its shrinking.
Step 15: All Done!
Once your finish is dry thread your string/cord through and you're all done! Pop a top plant in there and hang it in a position of prominence!
Thanks very much for having a look at this Instructable, I hope you got something out of it!
Participated in the