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Potting-Bench Perfection

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Gardeners will dig this hardworking, yet handsome, potting bench.

finished Potting Bench

Project Overview

Skill Level

Intermediate

Estimated Time

1-2 weeks

Estimated Cost

$$$$$$

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Miter saw
  • Electric drill
  • 1/8" and 3/16" twist drill bits
  • #2 Phillips driver bit or #2 Phillips screwdriver
  • Assorted clamps
  • Staple gun with 3/8" staples
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Framing square
  • Portable circular saw and straightedge guide
  • Sandpaper and a sanding block
  • Masking tape

Materials

  • 1 Top Choice 2"x6"x8' #2 prime treated lumber (#30906)
  • 1 Top Choice 2"x6"x12' #2 prime treated lumber (#84981)
  • 2 Top Choice 2"x4"x12' #2 prime treated lumber (#77671)
  • 1 Top Choice 2"x4"x8' #2 prime treated lumber (#46905)
  • 3 - 2"x2"x8' #1 treated lumber (#204231)
  • 10 Top Choice 1"x6"x12' appearance-grade treated board (#201725)
  • 2 Top Choice 1"x4"x10' appearance-grade treated board (#201714)
  • 2 - 1"x2"x8' treated board (#201999)
  • 1 Garden Plus mesh hardware cloth 1/4"x24"x10' (#90)
  • 1 - 5-1/2" zinc utility pull (#308981)
  • 1 Grip-Rite 1-1/4"x#8 PGP star drive green screw
  • 1 Grip-Rite 1-5/8"x#8 PGP star drive green screw
  • 1 Grip-Rite 2"x#8 PGP star drive green screw
  • 1 Grip-Rite 2-1/2"x#8 PGP star drive green screw
  • 1 Titebond III ultimate wood glue, 8 ounces (#627)
  • 1 gallon Cabot solid exterior stain, Thicket (#238847)
Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources

Instructions

Before you start, know pressure-treated lumber has a higher moisture content than ordinary framing and trim lumber. As the lumber dries, it may twist or cup slightly, making project assembly difficult. To prevent problems, cut the parts and assemble the project as soon as possible after purchasing the lumber. This way the screws and glue and other parts of the assembly will help restrict any wood movement.

Build the top and bottom assemblies

Step 1

top assembly

From 2"x4"s, cut the frame runners (A) and frame stretchers (B) to length (Top and Bottom Assembly drawings and Cutting List). Drill 3/16" countersunk holes through each runner 3/4" from each end.

Step 2

Arrange four runners and four stretchers into two rectangular frames, apply glue to the stretcher ends, and drive 2-1/2" deck screws through the runners into the stretchers. Position an additional stretcher between the runners where shown in the drawings, drill countersunk holes through the runners, and drive the screws. From a 2"×2", cut the drawer stop (C) to length. Position it between the end and intermediate stretcher of the top assembly frame where dimensioned, drill countersunk holes in the stretchers, and drive 2-1/2" deck screws.

Step 3

From 1"×6"s, cut the wide slats (D) to equal lengths. From 1"×2"s, cut the narrow slats (E) to length. Drill countersunk holes 3/4" from the ends of each slat. Glue and screw five wide slats and all the narrow slats to the top frame and eight wide slats to the bottom frame, leaving spaces between the slats, as indicated. Set the remaining four wide slats aside for the shelf.
Good to Know
Before fastening the slats to the frames, check the frames for square by measuring diagonally from corner to corner. When the diagonal dimensions are equal, the frames are square. If the diagonal dimensions are not equal, squeeze the frame across the longer diagonal. Recheck the diagonal measurements as you fasten the first three slats to each frame. These slats lock the frame into square and you can apply the remaining slats without rechecking the diagonal measurements.

Move on to the back assembly and legs

Step 1

back assembly

From 1"×6"s, cut the front runners (F), stretchers (G), and rear runners (H) to length. For the mesh panel (I), cut a 27"×46-3/8" piece of 1/4"-mesh hardware cloth. From 2"×6"s, cut the back legs (J) and front legs (K) to length. From a 1"×4", cut the cap (L) to length.

Step 2

Arrange the front runners (F) and stretchers (G) on a flat surface to form a rectangular frame (Back Assembly drawing). Then, with the runners and stretchers clamped tightly together, use a staple gun and 3/8" staples to fasten the mesh panel (I) to the parts.

Step 3

Position the rear runners (H) on the mesh. Align the top edges of the top front and rear runners and the bottom edges of the bottom front and rear runners, and align the ends of the rear runners with the inside faces of the stretchers (G). Drill 3/16" countersunk holes through the rear runners. Drive 1-1/4" deck screws through the rear runners and into the front runners, sandwiching the mesh panel between them.

Step 4

Lay the back legs (J) on the runners/stretchers/mesh assembly with the leg inside edges tightly against the rear runner (H) ends and the leg top ends and the top front and rear runner (F, H) top edges aligned. Drill countersunk holes through the legs. Drive 2" deck screws through the legs and into the front runners (F) and stretchers (G).

Step 5

Position the cap (L), on top of the back assembly, flush at the ends and the backs of the rear legs. Drill countersunk holes through the cap and drive 1-5/8" deck screws through the cap into the back legs and front runner.

Assemble the bench

Step 1

Place the top and bottom assemblies, front edges down, on a flat surface and about 23" apart. Place the back assembly, front face down, on the back edges of the top and bottom assemblies. Position the top assembly rear top edge against the bottom edge of the lower front runner (F), and center the back assembly side to side on the top assembly (Exploded View drawing). The back assembly overhangs the ends of the top assembly 3/4" at each side. Clamp the back assembly to the top assembly. Position the bottom assembly bottom edge 4-1/8" from the rear leg bottom ends, center it side to side on the back assembly, and clamp it in place. Drill 3/16" countersunk holes through the rear legs and drive 2-1/2" deck screws through the legs into the rear runners of the top and bottom assemblies.

Step 2

Carefully flip the top/bottom/back assembly onto the back. Position the front legs (K) on the front edges of the top and bottom assemblies with the outside edges of the legs protruding 3/4" beyond the ends of the top and bottom assemblies. Align the leg top ends and the top faces of the top assembly slats and clamp the front legs to the top assembly. Position the bottom assembly bottom edge 4-1/8" from the front leg bottom ends and clamp the legs to the bottom assembly. Drill countersunk holes through the top and bottom assemblies (A) from the inside, and drive 2-1/2" deck screws through the assemblies into the legs. (Carefully avoid driving screws through fronts of the legs.) Stand the bench upright.

Make the shelf

Step 1

From a 2"×2", cut the shelf frame runners (M) and shelf frame stretchers (N) to length. Then from a 1"×6", cut the vertical slats (O) to length. Retrieve the four previously cut wide slats (D).

Step 2

Drill 3/16" countersunk holes 3/4" from the ends of two runners (M) and arrange them and two stretchers to form a rectangular frame (Shelf Assembly drawing). Apply glue to the stretcher ends and drive 2-1/2" deck screws through the runners into the stretchers.

Step 3

Drill countersunk holes 3/4" from the ends of each vertical slat (O). Apply glue to the slats and arrange them on the remaining runner (M) as shown. With the slat bottom ends and the runner bottom face flush, drive 1-5/8" deck screws through the slats and into the runner. Apply glue to the slats and clamp the slat/runner assembly to the runner/stretcher frame. Drive 1-5/8" deck screws through the slats into the frame runner. To later fasten the runner to the bottom assembly, drill 3/16" holes to the bottom of the runner.

Step 4

Apply glue to the wide slats (D) and arrange them on the shelf frame as shown. (The right-hand slat covers the ends of the vertical slats.) Drive 1-5/8" deck screws through the slats and into the frame runners and stretchers.

Step 5

Mark lines on the back leg (J) and front leg (K), 14-1/2" up from the top surface of the bottom frame (Exploded View drawing). Slide the shelf assembly into the bench, and with the edge of the shelf 3/4" back from the outside edges of the legs, align the top surface of the shelf with the marked lines. Clamp the shelf in place. Drill countersunk holes through the legs, and drive 2-1/2" deck screws through the legs into the shelf frame members. Drive the screw heads about 1/8" below the surface to make room for wood filler.

Step 6

Use a framing square to ensure that the vertical slats (O) are square to the surface of the bottom assembly. Clamp the shelf runner to the bottom assembly and drive 2" deck screws from the bottom of the bench up through the bottom assembly into the runner.

Apply the Trim

Step 1

exploded view

From 1"×6"s, cut the front and back aprons (P) and the side aprons (Q) to length. From a 1"×4", cut the shelf front and back aprons (R) and shelf side apron (S) to length.

Step 2

Apply glue to the apron backs and clamp them in place (Exploded View drawing). The trim top edges are flush with the top surfaces of the assemblies to which they are fastened. Drill 3/16" countersunk holes through the inside faces of the top and bottom assemblies -- without drilling through the outside faces of the aprons -- and the shelf and into the apron parts (P,Q,R,S); fasten the trim in place with 1-5/8" deck screws.

Build the bin

Step 1

side section view and bin

From 1"×6"s, cut the front slats (T), side slats (U), and bottom slats (V) to length. Using a portable circular saw and straightedge guide, cut the taper on the two bottom side slats (Bin drawing). From a 1"×4", cut the back slats (W) to length. Then from 2"×2"s, cut the front cleats (X), back horizontal cleats (Y), and back vertical cleats (Z) to length.

Step 2

Lay the front slats (T) on a flat surface with the edges together and the ends flush. Apply glue to the front cleats (X) and position them on the slats, 3/4" in from the slat ends and flush at the top. Clamp the cleats in place. Drill 3/16" countersunk holes through the cleats, and drive 2" deck screws through the cleats into the slats.

Step 3

Lay the back slats (W) on a flat surface with the edges together and the ends flush. Apply glue to the back horizontal cleats (Y) and position them on the slats, 3/4" from the slat edges with the upper cleat 1-1/4" down from the slat top ends and the lower cleat 3/4" up from the slat bottom ends. Clamp the cleats in place. Drill countersunk holes through the cleats, and drive 2" deck screws through the cleats into the slats. Apply glue to the back vertical cleats (Z) and position them between the horizontal cleats. Drill countersunk holes through the cleats, and drive 2" deck screws through the cleats and into the slats.

Step 4

Lay one set of side slats (U) on a flat surface with the edges together and the ends flush. Apply glue to the bin front and back assembly cleats and position them on the side slats with the top end of the front cleat and the top edge of the upper back horizontal cleat flush with the top edge of the upper side slat. Clamp the front and back assemblies to the side slats. Drill countersunk holes through the cleats, and drive 2" deck screws through the cleats into the slats. Repeat to attach the other side.

Step 5

Starting at the front, slip a bottom slat (V) between the bottom side slats (U). With the bottom face of the bottom slat flush with the bottom edges of the side slats, drill countersunk holes through the side slats. Then, to prevent the bottom slat from splitting when driving the screws, drill 1/8" pilot holes into the bottom slat. Now drive 2" deck screws through the side slats into the bottom slat. Repeat with the remaining bottom slats. The rear bottom slat should overlap the lower back horizontal cleat (Y) by about 1/4".

Finishing up

Step 1

Examine all the assemblies and smooth any rough edges with sandpaper and a sanding block.

Step 2

Mask the mesh panel with 2"-wide masking tape and apply a finish of your choice following the directions on the can. We used Cabot solid exterior stain in the color Thicket (see the Lowe's List).

Step 3

completed Potting Bench

Attach a utility pull to the front of the bin (Bin drawing). To install the bin, tip the front up and "hook" the protruding back slats (W) behind the front apron (P). Rotate the bin level and slide it into the bench. To open the bin, tip it down so the beveled part of the bottom rests on the bottom assembly.