Free Woodworking Planter Box Plans

  • 01 of 10

    Download the Free Planter Box Plans

    Wheatgrass in wooden planter
    Gentl and Hyers/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    Every patio or deck can be made all the more attractive with the addition of plants and flowers. However, there are many times when one can't simply dig into the dirt and plant some flowers or shrubs.

    A solution? How about building one (or more) planter boxes? A planter box is not difficult to make, but when it is well-built, actually adds to the beauty of the deck or patio.

    In this set of free woodworking plans, we take you through the building of a typical planter box. The specific planter boxes we built for this set of plans are quite large, measuring 48" by 24" by about 27" tall. These planters will be housing some relatively large plants, helping to separate a restaurant patio from an alley. If you happen to be visiting the Hollywood, Florida area, stop by Lola's on Harrison, have a nice dinner and see first-hand just how nicely a row of planters can transform a common patio.

    These planter box plans can easily be altered for smaller installations or different types of wood. This is a fun project to build, one that gives a lot of satisfaction when completed.

    Difficulty Level
    • Woodworking: Easy to Moderate
    • Finishing: Paint or Stain (and Polyurethane)
    • Time to Complete​
    • 6-8 Hours
    • Recommended Tools​
    • Miter Saw or Circular Saw
    • Table Saw
    • Power Drill
    • Biscuit Cutter
    • Materials Needed
    • 2 - 2x2 x 8 SPF Lumber
    • 8 - 1x4 x 8 Pine or Douglas Fir
    • 1 - 6' x 10' piece of 6-mil Plastic
    • 1 - Lampholder Electrical Cover (1/2" Conduit Opening)
    • 1 - 6" piece of threaded 1/2" PVC Conduit
    • 1 - Lampholder Electrical Cover (1/2" Conduit Opening)
    • 1 - 90-degree 1/2" PVC elbow
    • PVC glue
    • Pencil
    • Woodworker's Glue
    • 1-5/8" Wood Screws
    • 2-1/2" Wood Screws
    • Staple Gun
    • Finish nails or Pneumatic Finish Nailer
    • Painter's Caulk and/or Wood Filler
    • Paint or Stain (and Polyurethane)
    • Sandpaper
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  • 02 of 10

    Cut the Plywood to Size

    Cut Plywood for the Planter Box
    (c) Chris Baylor

    To begin this woodworking project, we'll need to cut a full sheet of 3/4" sanded plywood down to the appropriate pieces. In all of the steps of these free woodworking plans, the pieces will be built according to the 24" x 24" x 48" planter box described in the detailed.

    Using your table saw or circular saw, cut the following pieces from the sheet of plywood:

    2 @ 24" x 48" - Sides of the planter box
    2 @ 22-1/2" x 23-1/4" - Ends of the planter box
    1 @ 22-1/2" x 48" - Bottom of the planter box

    Sand the cuts with some sandpaper or a random orbital sander.

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  • 03 of 10

    Cut Biscuit Slots for the Box Assembly

    Cutting Slots for Biscuits
    (c)Chris Baylor

    Once the five parts of the box are cut and sanded, we'll assemble the box. For this step of these, we'll use biscuit joinery with glue and finish nails to give the box strength.

    To begin, lay out the five parts of the box on a large woodworking table. Make marks corresponding marks about every six inches on each piece where the edge adjoins the next piece. Keep in mind that some of the biscuit slots will be cut into the edge of the plywood, while others will be on the face.

    On the two ends of the box, the biscuit slots will be in the edges of the plywood (bottom and two sides). On the bottom piece of plywood, the biscuit slots will be cut into the edges of the plywood on the sides, but into the face of the plywood on the ends. Finally, on the two side pieces of plywood, the biscuit slots will all be cut in the face (on the bottom edge and two ends).

    Using your biscuit joiner, cut slots in the appropriate locations marked above. Cut slots for either #10 or #20 biscuits.

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  • 04 of 10

    Assemble the Plywood Box

    Assemble the Plywood Box
    (c) Chris Baylor

    With all of the biscuit slots cut, we'll assemble the plywood planter box. Begin with the two ends and the bottom. Place a small amount of glue in the bottom slots of the ends and insert the appropriate #10 or #20 biscuits (depending on what size slots you cut in the previous step). Place a bit of glue in the corresponding slots of the bottom and attach the ends to the bottom. Tip the unit on its side and drive some finish nails (preferably using a pneumatic finish nailer) through the plywood bottom into the end pieces. Attach both end pieces to the bottom in this manner.

    Next, place glue and biscuits into the side piece of plywood that will fit onto the edge of the assembly facing upward. Then, place glue in the slots of the partially assembled box and fit the side onto the assembly, aligning all of the biscuits with the slots. Tap the side piece of plywood into place as shown in the picture above.

    Adjust the alignment appropriately and tack the side into place with finish nails. Then, repeat the entire procedure on the opposite side.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Cut Trim Pieces for the Planter Box

    Cut Trim Pieces to Trim the Box
    (c) Chris Baylor

    Once the plywood box is completed, we'll turn our attention to trimming the plywood box. For this step, we'll need the following:

    4 @ 1x4x8' pieces ripped in half, approximately 1-3/4" wide
    2 @ 1x4x8' pieces ripped to 2-1/4" wide
    2 @ 1x4x8' pieces (no ripping necessary for these pieces)
    2 @ 2x2x8' pieces for the support structure under the box

    Begin by cutting two pieces of 2x2 to 48" and another two pieces of 2x2 cut to 21". Attach these four pieces together to form a 24" x 48" frame using 2-1/2" wood screws. Then, attach the frame to the bottom of the plywood box using a few more wood screws, driving the screws through the bottom of the box and into the edge pieces, taking care to make sure that the screw threads are not exposed.

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  • 06 of 10

    Attach the Trim Pieces

    Attach the Trim Pieces
    (c) Chris Baylor

    Once the 2x2 base has been attached to the plywood box, we'll cover the base with trim. Using a compound miter saw, place one piece of full 1x4 stock on edge (flat against the back fence) and make opposing 45-degree cuts with the short side measuring just over 48" in length (the long side should end up a little over 49-1/2"). This piece will be attached to one side along the base with finish nails. Use a piece of scrap cut at 45-degrees to align one end of the trim board appropriately, and the other end should be just a hair long. Mark the finished length on the other end of the trim board with a pencil and cut that end to length. Return to the assembly and tack the board into place with finish nails.

    Next, cut one end piece of base trim and tack in place, in the same manner, cutting one end to match the previous piece of trim, then marking the opposite end. Nail this piece into place and work your way around the base until you've trimmed all four sides of the base.

    We move on to trim the top side of the box next. Using one of the 1-3/4" pieces, cut and attach a trim piece flat on the side of the box with the long edge flush with the top of the box. Continue all the way around the box, trimming the top edge of all four sides.

    On to the top of the box: measure one edge of the top of the box, from the outside of one end trim board to the opposite outside trim board (the distance should be about 49-1/2").

    Instead of cutting 45-degree miters with the face of the trim board against the fence of the compound miter saw, this time we'll cut it with the face down on the table of the miter saw. The piece should be cut so that the mitered angles match the mitered angles of the pieces we installed in the previous paragraph. Cut and tack the trim board into place, then continue around the top, installing top trim on all four edges.

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  • 07 of 10

    Attach the Corner Trim

    Attach Corner Trim
    (c) Chris Baylor

    Now that most of the large trim has been attached to the planter box assembly, we'll cover the exposed plywood edges of the corners with outside corner trim.

    Measure the distance on the box between the top and bottom trim, and cut one piece (with 90-degree end cuts) on your compound miter saw to this length. Align the piece to cover the exposed plywood edge of the corner that you measured and tack the piece in place with finish nails.

    Continue around the four sides, trimming each corner in the same manner.

    The last part of this step is to sand the entire project, although the plywood shouldn't need much sanding. Fill any nail holes or blemishes with wood filler and sand the filler flush while sanding the entire project. Focus your sanding on the trim boards, making sure that any rough edges or faces are addressed, as we'll begin finishing in the next step.

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  • 08 of 10

    Finishing the Planter Box

    Painting the Planter Box
    (c) Chris Baylor

    Whether you decide to stain or paint your planter box, it's time to apply the finish to this woodworking project. If you plan on staining your work, you'll need to apply polyurethane after finishing the stain.

    However, if you choose to paint, you'll want to caulk and prime before applying the finish coats. Apply painter's caulk to all exposed gaps to help waterproof the unit. Once the caulk has set, you can apply primer to the entire unit, either with a brush or with a sprayer. Cover the entire project with at least two coats of a quality primer, to seal the entire unit and help waterproof the planter. Once the entire unit has been thoroughly primed, apply a few coats of your finish color until you have reached the color and finish you desire.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Attach the Plastic Liner

    Attaching the Plastic Liner
    (c) Chris Baylor

    Once the paint or polyurethane has had plenty of time to dry completely (at least 24 hours after the final coat), we'll turn our attention to lining the inside of the planter. We'll be attaching some 6-mil plastic and inserting a drain in this step of these free woodworking plans.

    For this large planter, we'll need one single piece of 6-mil plastic (either clear or black is fine), measuring 6' x 10'. We'll attach the plastic by stapling it to the very tops of the plywood sides (just under the top trim). The easiest way to complete this task is to carefully center the plastic over the top of the box. Then tack one edge of the plastic all along one side with staples. Push the plastic down into the box, laying enough plastic to cover the side, bottom, and opposite side. Then, staple the plastic into place on the opposite side.

    The ends are a bit more tricky. We found it easiest to tack the end into place, then fold over the plastic that bunches at the corner against the end much like one would fold square corners when making a bed. Tack the flattened fold against the top of the box, then fold the opposite corner, again against the end of the box. Repeat with the opposite side. Trim off any excess plastic with a sharp utility knife.

    TIP: Take care that you don't puncture the plastic when installing it, or else water may seep through the plastic and possibly damage the planter box. If you puncture the plastic, discard it and install a new piece.

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Attach the Final Trim

    Attaching Inner Trim
    (c) Chris Baylor

    Before we can finish, we need to install a drain. After a lot of thought, we settled on a conduit drain (using electrical parts, ironically) that shouldn't leak water through the plastic into the box.

    Cut a 6" piece of 1/2" threaded PVC conduit into a 3" piece. Then, glue the threaded piece into an electrical lamp holder cover, but thread it through the back side of the cover (rather than from the front).

    Drill a 7/8" hole through the side of the plywood box at the height that you'd like the drain. Cut the same diameter hole through the 6-mil plastic.

    The lamp holder should include a rubber gasket, but we're not going to rely on this gasket alone. Apply a healthy bead of silicone caulk around the perimeter on both sides of the gasket, then push the conduit through the hole in the center of the gasket and finally through the hole in the plastic liner and plywood box. Screw the lamp holder into place with short wood screws.

    On the outside of the box, you may now want to glue a 90-degree elbow to the conduit facing downward. A couple of coats of paint will help camouflage the drain.

    Finally, we'll need to place some trim around the top inside edge of the planter box to cover the staples that hold the liner in place. Cut and carefully tack some 45-degree mitered 1-3/4" wide trim boards around the inside edge (much like you tacked the trim around the outside edge in a previous step). Fill any nail or screw holes and paint (or stain and polyurethane) these trim pieces.

    TIP: It is a good idea to paint or stain these trim pieces before you cut and install them. They'll need a bit of touch-up after installation, but it is much easier to paint before installation than after.

    When using the planter, place couple of inches of 1-2" rocks in the bottom of the planter, then put your dirt on top of the rocks to help with drainage.