By Tim Johnson
Thrill the garden lover in your family with one (or more!) of these easy-to-make projects.
Before you set aside your push sticks and dust mask for the season, make something to enjoy all summer. Each one of these projects takes only about a day to build, once youíve got all the materials. Theyíre designed for outdoor useómade from rot-resistant woods and assembled with weatherproof glue and rust-resistant fasteners. Protected with a finish or not, theyíll enhance your garden or deck for years to come.
This sturdy little stand is perfect for your deck or patio. Itís got room for your favorite plants and it doesnít take up a lot of space. When the weather gets cold, you can easily bring it, and a bit of summertime, indoors.
Thereís no complicated joinery, just glue and screws. The legs simply chase each other around the base, like a pinwheel. The arms follow suit, but theyíre offset, so your plants have plenty of room to grow.
Once you make templates for the legs and arms and the jig for routing the discs, youíll have the stand together in no time. For tools, youíll need a tablesaw, jigsaw, router and a drill, plus clamps and a file or rasp. If you use construction-grade lumber, you wonít need a planer or jointer. Rip the 1-1/2-in.-square column from a straight, clear 2x4 and use 1x stock for everything else. We went whole-hog, making ours out of mahogany. We spent about $100 for rough stock and milled it ourselves.
†Detail 1: Optional Pot Spike
12.† To keep your plants from getting blown off their discs by the wind, you may want to install pot spikes (G) in the arms and legs (Fig. A, Detail 1). Drill out the discsí center holes, as well as the corresponding screw holes in the legs and arms, with a 3/8-in. bit. Then glue sharpened mahogany or white oak dowels into the arms and legs. Slip the discs over the dowels and fasten them with the remaining screws. Stake your plants on the dowels, using the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Provide air space between the pot and the disc by using a plastic "deck protector" (available at garden stores).
A stop block ensures perfect alignment when you mount the legs. First, clamp the stop block to the column. Then, clamp the leg to the stop block, making sure the bottoms of the leg and column are flush. After drilling pilot holes, countersink and drill out the leg holes so the screws will slip through and fit flush.
the Wooden Discs
To avoid tearing out the discs, youíve got to make four passes, so you can always rout "downhill," following the grain. Make the counterclockwise passes (Steps 1 and 2) first. The two clockwise passes (Steps 3 and 4) require extra care, because youíre advancing the router in the same direction as the spinning bit. K eep a firm grip, as the router has a tendency to jump or skip ahead when the bit contacts the wood
Leg and Arm Profiles
The legs and arms share the same curve, so you really only have to make one template. Enlarge this pattern at a copy center by 250 percent and then again by 202 percent, until th e dimensions are correct.
Glue the arm support blocks to the column, two at a time. Keep them properly aligned by going easy on the glue and using finger pressure to initially set the joint. Wait until the blocks are firmly attached before clamping. Once installed, these four triangular blocks create a mount for the arms thatís offset from the legs.
Rout perfect discs easily with a simply made two-piece jig. The block allows you to clamp the assembly to your workbench. The template lets you rout the round shape. Orient the screws at a 45-degree angle to the discís grain. Then the disc will be fully supported across the grain when itís mounted.
Make any climbing plant happy with this 6-ft. tall, free-standing trellis. We used dadoes, glue and screws to fasten the slats because trellises take a beating each year when you tear off the old vines. We built our trellis from cypress, one of the longest-lasting outdoor woods. Ours was recycled from old water tanks and cost about $175 (see Sources, page 98). White oak, at $60, would also be a good choice.
Marking the legs for the dadoes can be confusing, but if you follow our marking procedures (Photos 1 through 4, page 75), you canít mess up. Even with our easy-to-make jigs, routing 68 dadoes is noisy, dusty and tedious (Fig. B and Photo 5). But once theyíre done, the dadoes make assembly foolproof. Thereís only one angle to remember: Everything slopes 6 degrees.
Youíll need an angled template, made with the miter gauge on your tablesaw, to make the dadoing jigs. Youíll also need a router with a straight bit to cut the dadoes, and a drill with a slotted tip for all the screws. We used a jointer and planer to mill our parts to thickness, but they could also be ripped to size on a tablesaw. The slats are thin, so be sure to use a push stick.
Following this sequence guarantees a successful layout
1: Optional Anchor Spikes
For windy conditions, you may want to anchor your trellis with aluminum spikes on each leg. For longer life, soak the ends of the legs in wood preservative or coat them with epoxy
Mark the bottoms of the legs.
Bundle the legs together and mark the front and back faces as one pair and the two side faces as the other.
the first pair of faces.
The dadoes on the front and back faces match, so they can be marked at the same time. Arrange the legs with the triangles at the top. After aligning the ends, draw reference lines every 8 in. to mark the dadoes. Then go back and mark the slope, which runs outward from the center of each pair.
Mark the second pair of faces.
Rearrange the legs with the circles at the top, and align the ends. Then mark the dadoes, using the same 8-in. spacing. This time, however, start 4 in. from the bottom. As you can see from the mark on the right, these dadoes are offset from the other pair of faces.
bundle should look like this.
Check to see that each leg has its two outside faces marked, that the marks are staggered, and that the slope of the dadoes is clearly indicated.
angled dadoes in the legs.
Slide the leg in, top end first, making sure that its slope indicators run the same direction as the jig. Align the dado reference line on the leg with the top inside shoulder of the jigís dado, clamp and rout. Remember: The reference line always marks the top of the dado and the slope indicator should always be in the routerís path.
for Routing Angled Dadoes
Because the sides taper, you need two mirror-image jigs, both angled 6 degrees from perpendicular. Use a template cut at 84 degrees to set the angle. Make the arms from extra leg stock. To get the proper spacing, slide another piece of extra leg stock between the arms when you mark the angles, fasten the fences and rout the dadoes. Use a spacer to keep the fences parallel so the dadoes are the same width on both jigs. The spacerís width depends on the diameter of the bit you use and the size of your routerís baseplate. For example, to make the 1-1/8-in.-wide dadoes, using a 1/2-in. straight bit in a router with a 6-in. diameter base, the spacer is 6-5/8-in. wide.
Tapered Pyramidal Spire
The lower half of the spire continues the 6-degree taper of the sides. The top half accentuates the pyramidal shape. Ready-made spires, some with copper details, are also available at home centers and garden stores.
If you can build a box, you can build this planter. Itís much sturdier than most commercial versions, so it should last for many years. Itís also the perfect opportunity for you to try your hand at shingling!
The opening accommodates a 30-in. drop-in plastic window-box planter. Theyíre available at any garden store in several lengths. You could easily alter the design to fit a different-size box, or to accommodate individual pots. A square version of this planter would also look great.
All the materials you need lie waiting at a full-service lumberyard. You donít have to be choosy about the CDX exterior-grade plywood, but it pays to look through the cedar stock for straight, knot-free boards. If you invest in a bundle of top-grade red cedar shingles (about $45), youíll easily have enough to cover two planters. Lower grade bundles cost half as much, but have lots of knotty pieces that you wonít use. Our total cost, including the plastic planter and top-grade shingles, was about $95.
We cleaned up the 2x6 stock and 5/4 decking with a jointer and planer and cut all the pieces to size on a tablesaw. We used a bandsaw to cut the wide bevels on the top pieces, and a biscuit cutter and biscuits to reinforce the topís miter joints.
However, you can make a simpler version of this planter without having a shop full of tools. Except for the wide bevels, all of the cuts can be made with a circular saw and a 10-in. miter saw. Just make the top out of thinner stock and leave it flat (substitute 7/8-in.-thick cedar siding, the stuff with one rough and one smooth side, for the top and the legs). You donít have to use biscuits in the miters. Keep the pieces aligned by pin-nailing the corners and let the weatherproof glue hold the joint. A drill, hammer and clamps complete the gotta-have tool list.
Fasten the legs with the box upside-down. Keep the legs flush with the top of the box, and the planter will sit square. Apply glue and hold the leg with a clamp so it doesnít slip when you drive the screw. Flip the assembly over and install another screw near the top. Remove the clamp and move on to the next leg
the shingles in four courses.
Cut stacked slots for biscuits, to reinforce the miter joints. Use a spacer to lift the second slot above the first.
Glue the mitered top on a flat surface. Draw the joints together by alternately adjusting the pressure on the three clamps. Waxed paper keeps the top from gluing itself to your bench!