Cedar Fence Picket Planter Boxes
Our garden was busting the seams of our backyard, so we decided some of it needed to move to make more room. The solution we settled on was to transplant the blueberries to beside the garage, which was a pretty bare space. We want to be able to easily take the blueberries with us when we move in a few years (just renting), so we opted for planters.
Deciding to use planters actually posed a big problem in our climate. It gets cold enough that moisture in the soil freezing during winter could break most planters. That ruled out most plastic and terra-cotta planters. Concrete, fiberglass and glazed terra-cotta are the best for over wintering, but you pay handsomely for those. The next best option is wood. Manufactured wood planters are cheaper than the others but were still more than I wanted to pay.
Since I have a wood shop, we decided that making our own out of wood was the best option. We choose cedar for its naturally rot and insect resistant characteristics and price, cedar fence pickets are pretty affordable ($2.55 / 6’x5.5″ picket at my big box). With a material, method, and concept in mind it was time to go shopping and get started.
Cedar Fence Picket Planter Boxes
This is what you need to build one cedar fence picket planter box. If you’re doing more than one, get the appropriate amount of lumber and follow the directions to build them assembly line style. The fence pickets I purchased were 6′ x 5.5″ and dog-eared on top. The planters are 18″ tall, 16.5″ wide at top and 13.5″ wide at the bottom. I built four of these with my Dad in 2.5 hours, and two by myself in 1.5 hours.
- Circular Saw
- Tape Measure
- Table Saw
- Compound Miter Saw
- Air Compressor with Pneumatic Stapler
- 3.5 Cedar Fence Pickets / Planter
- 1″ Brads or Staples
- Construction Adhesive (optional)
- Crosscut the pickets into 18″ pieces
- Separate your pieces into sides, corners, and braces. Each box will use 8 pieces for the sides, 4 pieces for corners, and 2 pieces for the braces
- Cut dog ears (cut the corners off the top at 45*) on all the sides and corners
- Rip the corner pieces in half, separate evenly into left and right sides
- Draw the taper you want on the corners. We decided that taking 1.5″ off each corner would look best.
- Cut the tapers on all the corners at a 45* miter. If you have a table saw, you can use one of the pieces as a template to guide the rest of your cuts.
- Rip each brace piece into 4, 1.25″ pieces
- Use the bevel to copy the angle from a corner piece to set the miter on your circular or miter saw
- Cut the compound angle onto one side of all the brace pieces. Due to variation in the pickets it’s best to cut the braces to finish length individually.
- Layout a side by using two side pieces flanked by a left and right corner piece.
- Cut your braces to length by measuring approx. .5″ from the bottom (thickness of a brace), and one approx. 1.25″ from the top (width of a brace)
- Assemble the side by nailing or stapling the braces onto the side and corner pieces
- Repeat 10-12 until all your sides are complete
- Apply construction adhesive to the corners of the sides (optional)
- Stand up four sides and staple the planter together at the corners
- Stand back and admire!
Fortunately, I choose a weekend to build these when my parents were visiting to meet Wayne, so I had help from my Dad.
My crosscut sled with a clamped stop block on the table saw made short work of crosscutting all the pickets. Later I raised the blade and was able to crosscut 4 pickets at once.
We used another clamped stop block on the miter saw to speed up chopping the dog ears. They were easy to cut two at a time.
We set the fence on the table saw and made quick work of ripping the corners in half (note the push stick near the fence, and you should never let you hand get beside the blade like I did, -10 points for safety violation).
After we marked the taper, I set the table saw to 45* and free cut the first corner to use a template for the others. A digital angle finder is worth the small investment if you spend a lot of time in the shop!
Here you can see the taper we chose.
We then used the first piece as a guide to cut the rest of the left side corners more quickly.
Just had to flip everything to the other side of the blade and reverse the template to cut the right side corners.
I forgot to take a picture of ripping the braces, we just set the fence on the saw like ripping the corners. Then brought back the crosscut sled to crosscut them. In my directions I recommend crosscutting everything in the beginning to prevent this back and forth.
I locked my bevel to the angle that we cut on the corner pieces. This is the tool to use if you ever need to duplicate angles.
With the bevel set, it was easy to transfer it to the compound miter saw so the braces would be cut at the same angle as the corners. I recommend making a test cut on scrap to make sure you’re close enough.
After we cut one side of all the braces, we started laying out sides to cut the final length for the braces and staple them on.
Repeat until the sides are complete.
Once all the sides were assembled I applied construction adhesive to the corners for a little extra strength. I didn’t do this on two that I built later and they’re doing fine.
The only thing left was to staple them together, then stand back and admire!
After giving the construction adhesive a few days to cure, we leveled out some spots beside the garage and transplanted the blueberries into the new planters.