Wheelchair Accessible Planter

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About: I enjoy building wooden locking systems , ...and recycling/upcycling. It doesn't take long for a passion to become an obsession.

Hello Instruca-peeps,

This instructable is walk you through the steps to build one of these wheelchair accessible planters. In the last year I have made 105 of these beauties for our community! Really, I am not an avid gardener myself, but am more excited to grow in one of these, maybe because there is less weeding and less bending over, lol. They measure 41 1/2" wide x 72" long x 32" high.

The tongue and groove are store bought and ready to use.

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Step 1: A Word About Jigs

There is only one jig you really need that would assist in the accuracy and overall finished look when building one of these. The jig you see above is likely something that most woodworkers have made at least once, and that's a crosscut jig that fits your skillsaw. A total of 12 half laps will be needed, so a quick jig makes it easy. I won't go into detail on this jig as it is so easy to make and its on You Tube a million times, lol.

Ok, lets start with the material list....

Step 2: Materials

Materials:

Legs 6 pcs 2" x 4" x 30" - Cut with a 45 degree on one end.

Crossers 3 pcs 2" x 4" x40" - Cut 90 each end.

Angle Brace 6 pcs 2" x 2" x 18 1/2" - Cut 45 degrees on 1 end, double 45 degree on other end.

Bottom T&G 2 pcs 3/4" x 4 7/8" x 70 1/2" - Rip tongue off one edge, and the groove off the other.

T&G Sides 2 pcs 3/4" x 4 7/8" x 70 1/2" - Rip the grooved edge of both at 45 degrees.

T&G Sides 8 pcs 3/4" x 4 7/8" x 70 1/2" - Cut each end at 90 degrees.

Top Side Apron 2 pcs 3/4" x 5 1/2" x 70 1/2" - Cut each end at 90 degrees.

Top End Apron 2 pcs 3/4" x 4 7/8" x 41 1/2" - Cut these 1 inch longer and cut to fit at the end.

End T&G Top 2 pcs 3/4" x 4 1/2" x 40" - Cut one end at 45, and leaving the other end longer then needed by 3". Rip the tongue edge from these boards.

End T&G Middle 2 pcs 3/4" x 5 1/2" x " - Cut one end at 45, and leaving the other end longer then needed by 3".

End T&G Bottom 2 pcs 3/4" x 4 1/2" x " - Cut one end at 45, and leaving the other end longer then needed by 3". Rip the groove edge from these boards.

Screws: 1 1/2" for most of the construction, about 100 per unit. You will also need 24 3" screws for the end apron and the braces.

Carriage Bolts: 3/8" x 2", plus washers and nuts. 6 per unit.

Landscape fabric.

1/2" staples

Step 3: Tools

You will need:

Skillsaw

Chopsaw

Tablesaw

Cordless Drill plus appropriate screwdriver bit

3/8" Drill Bit

1/8" Drill Bit

Rubber Mallet

Hammer

9/16" Wrench

Tape measure

12" Clamp

Scissors

Staple gun and staples

Step 4: Cutting the Material First

I would like to add a side note before we get going, and that these measurements are what worked for the material I was able to source from a local mill and might not match the dimension available to you, so proceed cautiously, measure twice, cut once etc.

Begin by cutting the 6 needed 2x4 legs to 30" with a 45 degree angle on one end.

Next, cut the 3 crossers to 40".

Using your skillsaw jig you want to remove half of the thickness where the half laps need to be cut. For me I just take a bunch of passes and chip out the rest with a chisel. The 3 crossers are pretty easy to layout and calculate for since they are right at the ends.

The legs you will need to set up a stop so that the bottom of the half lap is 10 5/16" from the bottom of the leg, the dado width (3 1/2") is measured up the leg from that point. When the dados are being marked out, be sure to make sure there are 3 left and 3 right legs. It is super important that this part goes smoothly, maybe do a test cut on scrap material if feeling unsure.

Next you can cut the 12 pieces of T&G to 70 1/2" long.

Two of the 12 will become the bottom of the planter, so set the tablesaw to 4 7/8" and rip of one tongue and one groove edge.

Select the next two pieces of T&G and rip a 45 degree edge off the groove edge on both (keeping the best side facing down on the table).

Two more pieces will be needed to ripped, but I would recommend that you wait until you get there if you want accuracy.

The two Top Side Aprons can be cut to 70 1/2" like the T&G. The Top End Aprons I would wait until ready for it as I found there to be mild fluctuations etc.

You will need 2 T&G pieces that are approx 41" long with 1 end cut to a 45 degree angle. These pieces will next need to have the tongue edge ripped off on the table saw. The one end is left square because it is marked in place before it is finally cut to fit.

The middle row of T&G on the ends is cut to approx 32" long with a 45 degree on one end, with the final angle being marked in place.

The bottom row of T&G on the end is cut to approx 20" long with a 45 degree on one end, with the final angle being marked in place.

One last part to cut are the 45 degree braces that support the inside of the planter. Cut the 2x2 pieces to approximately 18 1/1/2" long with a 45 degree angle on one end. The other end has a double 45 degree that points in the middle. This part I would find the right measurement that works for your material. These measurements should be more then long enough to get started. Once you find just the right size, you can easily repeat for the other 5.

Step 5: Assembly

On the ends of the 40" crossers, on the outside of the half lap, you can mark center for the 3/8" drill bit.

On a large table surface layout the paired ends and the crosser, making sure that if there is a bow in the crosser, that it points up.

When the legs are dry assembled to the crosser, you can drill through them both at this point, followed by the fastening of the parts using the 3/8" x 2" carriage bolt,washer and nut. Finger tighten only at this point.

On top of each crosser, mark a line that is 10 7/8" from the inside of the leg towards the middle of the crosser. These line need not be anything more then a sight alignment for the first pair of T&G on the bottom.

Set one of the preassembled legs up with the carriage bolt heads facing out (maybe have a helper at this point) so that you can take the two pieces of T&G for the bottom and nest the existing tongue and groove together and set it on the crosser. It maybe all angled as the other end rests on the floor, but no worries, it will all work out. Use a clamp to keep the T&G together. Before attaching make sure the ends re flush and square to the crosser.

Once the first legs are attached, move to the other end and set the T&G up on the crosser and attach using similar method as for the first.

Measure in 35 1/4" from one end of the bottom T&G, this will be the center of the middle leg location. Slide the 3rd set of legs under the middle of the assembly and line up the 35 1/4" marks with the 10 7/8" marks for best alignment.

Its all still pretty wobbly at this point, Next we will take the 2x2 angle braces, pre-drill them and set them into place on the crosser and lined up with the top angle of the planter legs. If all lines up smoothly at each end, fasten with 3" screws at each end.

Take the two 70 1/2" T&G pieces that had the 45 degree edges ripped off, set them in the bottom. Always work from the same end first, making sure that the 45 degree angle edge is tight to the bottom, fasten with an 1 1/2" wood screw. Only attach the bottom edges at the brace locations for now, leaving the other set of screws until the planter has been better squared up.

Once both sides have been done, you can flip the planter on its side and add screws every 6" from the bottom up into the 45 degree edged T&G. Be careful not to poke the screw up into the inside of the planter.

While on its side, mark a line at 27" from the bottom of the leg up to the top of the leg on each one.

Set the 1x6 piece that was cut to 70 1/2" in line with those marks and fasten with 2 screws per leg location. The middle location needs the same 35 1/4" mark for the middle leg alignment.

One last step while its on its side, and that is to tighten up the nuts and carriage bolts with the wrench. Don't over tighten if you are using cedar as it is pretty soft.

Roll it over to the other side and repeat.

Once done, roll it back onto its feet.

You can now resume laying the back in and screwing it down. We found it helpful to not screw the top screw on each board in all the way so it would be easier to engage the next layer, then tightening. Remember to start at the same end each time keeping it flush.

You will have three rows go on each side before the top piece needs ripping to fit into the last row. It worked out to be about 2 1/2" but might be different depending on material used. Check that there is no sanding needed at the other end of the back pieces.

On to the ends. Now that things are more secure, you can measure what the top end aprons need to be, measured from the outside of each top side apron. It should be 41 1/2" if all worked out perfectly, but don't be surprised if each end is a little different then the other end. Predrill the Top End Apron and use 3" screws to fasten.

Take the top T&G end piece and set it under the top end apron. Feel that the one end is flush with the 2 x 2 brace, hold it there and mark the other end for cutting. Once cut and fastened with 2 wood screws at each end, move onto the middle piece of T&G and repeat the process for setting it in place and marking it. Fasten the middle piece and repeat with the bottom piece. The bottom piece should have had its groove edge ripped off on the table saw.

Repeat with the other end.

Step 6: Finishing

We found it easiest to flip it upside down on a set of saw horses for the staining part, 2 coats seemed fine.

While there we drilled a dozen 1/2" holes in the bottom so the tear out would stay inside the planter.

Once done there I lined the inside with landscaping fabric, I guess it helps wick moisture away from the wood to some degree.

And lastly, if you don't have a helper, you can move it around easy enough when empty just by pretending to be a turtle.

Please give me a shout if you have question, invariably I may have forgotten something.

I hope you guys enjoy it!

1 Person Made This Project!

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12 Discussions

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Pavlo6666

12 days ago on Step 5

Good idea. Thanks for thinking of the wheelchair bound

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jeanniel1

4 weeks ago

This is a great project for the elderly too as they have a harder time bending over. Agree about the depth being large, but I figure that's adjustable, unless you're growing LONG carrots or japanese radishes! LOL! I was just about to build a planter box, but now might consider your design.

1 reply
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Alex in NZ

4 weeks ago

These are wonderful! What a great way to let wheelchair users garden. Thank you for sharing your design :-)

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danzo321

4 weeks ago

Looks good. I appreciate how a wheelchair user has room to get in there from the sides. Why did you build to 6 feet, why not 8? Why are they so deep? Have to fill all that depth with dirt. Only building problem was, screwing into end grain - considered a weak joint. If you could screw planks into an upright 2x4, that would be much longer lasting.

3 replies
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KelSnakedanzo321

Reply 4 weeks ago

Hi danzo321, Hey thanks! These were an order for a community, and some of the size parameters were set out by others. Personally, I filled much of the lower space with styrofoam chunks from shipping, so it was lighter. Not sure where you are referring regarding a week joint, after all it is a planter, not high end furniture, lol The boards do adsorb some moisture over time and so replacing them should be easy if possible.

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danzo321KelSnake

Reply 4 weeks ago

When you nail or screw into end grain, this is not going to be nearly as strong as fastening into cross grain. People not familiar with carpentry just don't know these things. But now you do. Styro is smart. If you designed them, nice miters, but I would have not had such slope, such depth.

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KelSnakedanzo321

Reply 4 weeks ago

Lol, thanks for the heads up. Been woodworking for over 30 years my friend. I am not sure this is the place for you to list the things you don't like bud, but just as happy to hear your criticisms. |It would be great for you to build one and show me how you would build it differently. It is a planter after all, not fine furniture.

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hubdog

4 weeks ago

I missed how you cut the tongue and groove. More pictures of the build process would be really helpful. These are amazing, I want to make a bunch.

1 reply
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KelSnakehubdog

Reply 4 weeks ago

Thanks for your question hubdog. The T&G is premade and readily found at your local lumber store. I will add more pictures as I can add them from my phone, lol