Friday, February 3, 2012

Potting in DIY Style

I have been wanting a potting bench for quite some time.  After all, I am a gardener, and don't we all NEED a handy place to play with dirt in pots?   Yes, of course, we do!

Every time I saw a potting bench, I would look at it longingly, but for one reason or another, I just never seemed to be able to find the perfect one.

A few years ago while touring a garden in our area,  I saw a bench that I really liked that was made by the homeowner's son.   This young man was kind enough to give me construction instructions and a picture.  It went in my "garden ideas" file for "someday."   Here's a picture of that bench (sorry for the poor quality - it's a scan of a photocopy).


Recently I was at a client's yard, and I noticed that she had a potting bench.  She told me that her husband had built it for her, and that got me to thinking...I wonder if maybe I could build one.

I had the potting bench bug -- and bad!  I came home and started researching on the internet for DIY potting benches.  Lo and behold, I found this great website called Thrifty Decor Chick, and she had a post on building a potting bench with very detailed instructions.    I liked the basic construction of her bench, but I wanted to make mine a two-tier bench with decorative cast iron brackets like the one that I had seen on the garden tour earlier.  Here's a picture of TDC's potting bench.


I decided that my potting bench would work great on my side yard right across the walkway from my greenhouse.    Here's a view of my side yard.   I am not sure I have ever shown this part of my yard before, basically because it's pretty nondescript.   This is where I have a rain barrel, my greenhouse, and a small square foot garden area for veggies.


TDC's bench was larger than my space allowed, so I started calculating the measurements for my side yard space and drawing a plan, and measuring some more, and thinking and dreaming, and checking the measurements just one more time (okay...at least 10 more times!) until I finally came up with a plan that is basically a marriage of the two benches.

I took all of my measurements down to the local Lowe's, and the nice guy in the lumber department cut all of the cedar lumber to my precise details.


A couple boxes of screws, a drill and countersink drill bit, tape measure, my pile of precisely cut lumber, a couple cool wooden finials and decorative cast iron brackets, a few prayers, and we were ready to go.

After I hurt my arm last year and became the Gimpy Gardner for a time, one of the lessons I learned was that it is best to ask (or beg) for help rather than to try and overdo it (besides, I need to save myself for diggin' in the dirt!).

So...enter Handy Husband.  Well, actually, he's not so handy with construction tools, but he's got Popeye forearms, and all I needed was someone to drill a bunch of holes and screw in some screws.    How hard could that be, right?      Well,  I am very picky and want everything done perfectly, and my husband is sort of a "just get 'er done" kind of guy.   He had to keep reminding me that we were building a potting bench, not a nuclear bomb, so we could probably give the picky perfect precision thing a little rest.

So we got to work.  It started coming together little by little.   I could see it taking shape before my eyes!   It was so exciting!!

And without further ado (drum roll, please) here is the finished product!  


Is this awesome, or what?!!!   I absolutely LOVE it!!!!   I still cannot believe that we actually built this with our own hands from scratch!   One of the biggest thrills for me in doing a landscape design is seeing what I have in my mind and drawn on a piece of paper actually come to life.  That is exactly what happened with the potting bench.


The detail on the upper back of the bench is a piece of old decorative iron that I have had for years.  I don't remember where I got it, but I just thought it was beautiful and figured I'd find a place for it at some point.   The cross bars on it used to protrude through the top and bottom of the piece at varying heights.   We used a metal cutting blade on our angle grinder and cut those pieces off.  And after grinding down the bumps of the screws a little bit, it fit perfectly in the space between the cross braces.  I think it adds so much character (and a little bling) to the bench and makes it one of a kind.


If you'd like the details of how we constructed the bench, keep reading.   
If not, then I'll catch you next time.

*   *   *

Here are all of the supplies needed and measurements for the potting bench:

Cedar lumber:
2 - 35 1/2 inch 4x4 (front legs)
2 - 57 1/2 inch 4x4 (back legs)
4 - 58 1/4 inch 1x4 (top and bottom braces)
10 - 18 1/2 inch 1x4 (side braces)
8 -  20 inch 1x6 (bottom shelf)
3 - 58 1/4 inch 1x6 (bench table top)
1 - 49 1/4 inch 1x4 (bench table top between 4x4s)
1 - 56 3/4 inch 1x6 (back brace near table top)
1 - 56 3/4 inch 1x4 (back brace near top-tier shelf)
1 - 58 1/4 inch 1x12 (top-tier shelf)

2 decorative cast iron brackets (9 x 6 3/4 inches)
2 wooden finials
cast iron hooks
1 box 3-inch galvanized screws
1 box 1 5/8-inch galvanized screws
Stain/sealer

The final measurements are 58 1/4 inches wide, 65 1/4 inches tall (at finial height) and 21 inches deep.   The table top is 36 inches tall.

First we attached the top and bottom braces (1x4s) across the front and back legs (4x4s).  The bottom brace is 6 inches from the bottom.  The braces are placed 3/4 inch over the edge of the 4x4 to allow for a side brace to be added later.


Next we attached all of the side braces, top and bottom of the bench.  We put braces on each side of the 4x4 legs and two more across the top of the bench for extra support.

 

Then we added the bottom shelf which is made up of eight 1x6s laid perpendicular to the shelf with wide spaces (about 3/4 inch)  between each board.



Then we attached the table top boards horizontally across the length of the bench.   The bench table top is made up of three 1x6s and one 1x4 piece.  The 1x6s form the widest part of the table top, and the 1x4 piece fits between the 4x4 legs that go up to form the top tier.  We spaced the boards approximately 1/4 inch apart.


Next we attached the back braces to the 4x4s of the upper tier; a 1x6 near the table top part of the bench, and a 1x4 up at the top where the top-tier shelf rests.   A flat bracket was also attached to the back side for extra stability across the back.


Then we attached the top-tier 1 x 12 shelf, the decorative star brackets, the wooden finials, and the decorative iron piece across the back.


Cast iron hooks were added to the ends of the table top 
for hanging garden tools.


I wanted to keep the bench two-toned cedar, so I stained the legs and finials with Cedar Naturaltone stain, and I sealed the rest of the bench with a clear sealer. 

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and you'd like us to make a potting bench for you, we are taking orders.  Please email me for pricing.   Or try your own little DIY handiwork.  You might just surprise yourself!

Happy potting...

Toni :-)

42 comments:

  1. Your potting bench is gorgeous!!! Congratulations! I look forward to seeing it in future posts, properly covered with dirt, plants, and pots, of course!

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    1. Yes, planning to get some dirt under my nails and on the bench shortly :-)

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  2. I want one of those! Thanks for sharing the details. Can't wait till my husband builds mine....just have to inform him of his new project.

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    1. Gotta get those husbands on board with our projects, don't we :-) Let me know if you do build one! I'd love to see how it turns out.

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  3. Toni, I just love it! It’s beautiful and functional. VERY NICELY DONE!

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    1. Thanks, Lucy! We are quite pleased with ourselves :-) Believe me, projects like this are so out of the ordinary for us, so we are amazed that the whole process went so well.

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  4. Absolutely perfect!! I'm definitely "pinning" this!

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    1. "Perfect"...music to my ears :-) What is "pinning"?? I hope that's a good thing :-) I am such a dinosaur!

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  5. Wow, I'm very impressed with the bench you guys created. Nice job.

    I've had that potting bench bug for a long time too. Finding just the right bench for an individual appears to be one of life's greatest challenges but most satisfying accomplishments when it happens.

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    1. Thanks, Chad. I hope you find (or build) the potting bench of your dreams, too :-) Hey, if we can do it, ANYONE can do it, trust me!

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  6. I LOVE it Toni!!! WAY TO GO!! Wow that was nice of Lowes to cut it for you too! Thanks for this inspiration! What great times ahead for you and this bench!

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    1. Thanks, Eve! I was pretty thrilled that Lowe's cut the lumber for us, too. I was quite relieved, actually. I was afraid if my husband had to do the cutting, there would be missing digits by the time it was all said and done. Ha! The only thing about pre-cutting the lumber is you have to have all of the measurements ready beforehand. That's where my picky precision came in handy. I went over the measurements literally 10 times to make sure. We ended up with one 1x4 board being 1/4 of an inch too long. I thought that was pretty good. The reason I was off on that measurement is because when I got to Lowe's they informed me that CEDAR 4x4s are actually 3 3/4 x 3 3/4. I based all my measurements on 4x4s being 3 1/2 x 3 1/2. So I had to recalculate everything on the spot based on the extra 1/4 inch. I missed one board in the process. Not too shabby...considering :-)

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  7. Oh, it is gorgeous! Good for you! I laughed at you being the picky one and your husband the 'just get 'er done' type. It's the opposite in my household. I love the way your bench is two tones, and the added embellishments are perfect. I know you'll really enjoy it!

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    1. Funny how opposites attract, right? Keeps us balanced, I reckon. I'm sure you get things done much faster than I do. My husband says I have "paralysis by analysis" because sometimes I analyze things so much I don't get anything done!

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  8. Toni, the bench is just perfect! You have got an eye for function and beauty, and this is a wondrous blend of the two. How handy it will be and when not in use, a lovely piece of garden art.

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    1. Thanks, Karen! I was so happy that the decorative iron piece fit into the project so well. It certainly spiffs up that side yard that was pretty boring before :-)

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  9. Oh yes, I can see why you are very happy with it! How wonderful that you worked together with your husband to build it. I think I like your version even better than the other two--a perfect blend! Enjoy!

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    1. Yes, it was quite wonderful that my husband and I worked on this project together. The only thing I left off the supplies list is duct tape -- for my mouth! It gets me in trouble sometimes. My husband is more patient than handy -- good thing!

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  10. My patio table doubles as a potting table. Pathetic, but true. If we owned power tools the hubby and I would probably be double amputees. Lucky you to have someone so handy!

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    1. My husband once almost cut his thumb off with a HAND saw, so needless to say, I was a little concerned about this project. But it all went well, thankfully...and we are still married :-) Wonders never cease!

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  11. Very nice, Toni. I love the way you took the initiative to create your own from pieces of what you had in your mind. The ironwork really adds so much character and personality. And the brackets with the Texas star is a perfect element as well. It should last you a good long while since you splurged for cedar and it will naturally grey beautifully. I LOVE it.
    Meems

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  12. Toni, it's splendid! I especially like the wrought iron detail. So nice. I'm impressed.~~Dee

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  13. Toni I just love your new potting bench. It looks like the wind will not blow it away. LOL! I love the antique grate on the back board.I am sure you will get a lot of enjoyment from it. I love your greenhouse against the house. That is such a neat one. Girl you are all set up now.

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  14. That is amazing! Thanks for the instructions. I have a lot of scrap wood that needs to be used on something... maybe I can convince my boyfriend to help me make one of these!

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  15. Beautiful potting bench, very well done and all the details are great too.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  16. What a great project! I just may have to drag handy hubby to the computer screen to see this one. I so want a potting bench now too! I love the wrought iron details. They really add charm.

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  17. It IS wonderful!!! Absolutely wonderful! Love it! I got my potting bench last summer and I can't believe I could live without it for so long! Now, we are real gardeners, aren't we? We have our benches! Also, I want to thank you for the time you put into posting all the instructions.

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  18. Hi Toni,
    I left you a message on blotanical. I just saw the one you left me, I don't remember when. I love your bench, and also your greenhouse and little garden space! I bet that feels good to have used the wrought iron that you'd had around.

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  19. Your bench is so beautiful and I especially love the stars in the shelf brackets. I have found the folks at Lowes so ready and helpful with my "projects". I have even sent my husband with the exact measurements and been pleased with the returned results. I am needing a table to go by our grill so my use your inspiration with a few modifications. Oh, and I will get to see your bench later in May! Wahoo.

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  20. Oh .. my ... gosh!! I nearly fainted, that is SO cool!

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  21. Great post, Toni! The tutorial with pictures is helpful for me since I'm a visual person. I actually think with my husband's help, we could build a potting bench together. Now you have a functional and beautiful garden tool. What a novel idea!

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  22. Turned out great Toni. I can see you selling a bunch.

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  23. This is great. I have looked high and low on the internet and finally came across your design and upclose shots. I cant thank you enough.

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  24. Hi there Toni, I used one of your pictures to show some people on idigmygarden of what I am building with my existing materials. Here is the link of my modified picture of yours. If you want me to take it down I will do so and understand.

    http://idigmygarden.com/forums/showpost.php?p=894063&postcount=13

    Please let me know if its okay or not. Thank you

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  25. awesome potting bench! thanks for sharing the plans I might have try them out.

    Ken and Jackie

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  26. OMG! this looks GREAAAAAAAAT!!!!
    Adding to my bookmarks of DIY projects... thanks so much for sharing! :)

    C

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  27. I can see a certain potting bench being built for my new deck at my new home!! Thank you for sharing

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  28. Your potting bench looks fabulous! How did you attach the metal artwork piece across the back? Did you drill holes and attach with screws? Thanks for sharing your work.

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  29. I liked your potting bench so much that I made one myself! You can see it at: http://kayzquiltz.blogspot.com/2013/05/my-potters-bench-and-life-on-farm.html
    Thank you so much for the tutorial :)

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  30. How thick of wood should I use

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  31. çok yararlı oldu...teşekkürler...
    İstanbul'dan selamlar...

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