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Indoor-Outdoor Planters

These pine-and-plywood planters can go inside or out. Build them this weekend and get growing.

The raised planter on porch

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Jigsaw
  • Straightedge
  • Pocket-hole jig
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill with driver bits
  • 1/4-in drill bit
  • 1-in drill bit
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Mineral spirits
  • Miter saw
  • Compass
  • Painter’s tape
  • Wood glue
  • Caulking gun
  • Paintbrush and rags
  • Sander and various grits of sandpaper
  • 150-grit and 220-grit sanding sponges


  • See Cutting Diagram for lumber
  • 1/16-in x 1-1/2-in x 96-in aluminum angle, #55972
  • #16 x 1-1/4-in brads
  • #8 x 2-1/2-in flathead sheet-metal screws
  • #8 x 1-1/2-in flathead sheet-metal screws
  • 100 count, 1-1/2-in Kreg pocket hole screws
  • Elmer’s 8 Oz. latex wood patching compound, #260763
  • Quart Valspar Duramax exterior semi-gloss paint and primer, Ultra White (#7006-24)
  • Loctite 10-oz gray polyurethane caulk, #153986

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.

Missing anything? Shop Online


These photos and instructions show how to build a square planter. For a rectangular version, substitute longer parts as indicated in the diagrams. Longer parts with a "-2" in the label differ from those in the square planter.

We used 12-inch clay pots in our planters. For other pot sizes, change the part lengths where needed and customize the depth by adjusting the lower support frame heights.

Build a Planter

Step 1

Begin by cutting a 2 x 2 cedar board into four equal pieces for the legs (A) (Project Diagram, Cutting Diagram). From 3/4-in-thick plywood, cut the sides (B) to size and sand the parts with 150-grit sandpaper.

Step 2

attach legs with pocket hole screws

Lay out and drill three pocket holes at each end of the sides to secure the panels to the legs (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).

Step 3

add remaining panels to complete box

With the help of a few clamps, glue and screw the legs to two of the side panels (Photo 1). Then add the front and back panels to complete the main box (Photo 2). (The pocket-screw holes will be covered by the slats you attach later.)

Step 4

Assemble the support frame by cutting the cleats (C) and rails (D) to length. Sand the parts and assemble using glue and screws.

Step 5

install support frame

Slide the frame into the planter and secure in place (Photo 3); the exact height can be modified based on your pots. Our frame was set so a 12-in-diameter clay pot can fit in the box with the rim even with the top of the caps (G).

Step 6

mark slats for precise fit

Using the assembled case as a guide, measure for the exact fit of the length of the wide slats (E) and narrow slats (F) (Photo 4) (Project Diagram, Drawings 2 and 3).

Step 7

drill bits are perfect spacers

the top edges of both parts are flush. Now add a narrow slat leaving 1/4-in space between the slats (Photo 5). Complete the addition of the slats, alternating between wide and narrow slats as you move down the side. Repeat for the three remaining sides.

Whenever you need to space two pieces of wood, use the most accurate tools in your work area - drill bits. They’re especially handy when you need off-size spacers such as 5/32 inch or 13/64 inch.

Step 8

align the cap with layout line

Draw a diagonal on the top of each leg to mark the miter on each corner of the planter. Turn the box on its side and raise it 3/4-inch off the work surface using a couple of scraps. This will ensure the proper overhang of the caps (G). Cut the caps to length by cutting a 45-degree miter on each end. Apply glue to the top of the planter and set the cap in on the work surface, aligning the mitered ends with your diagonal marks (Photo 6). Secure with 1-1/4-in brads.

Step 9

install remaining caps

Add the remaining caps by pulling the miters tight and nailing them in place (Photo 7).

If you’re new to cutting miters and the parts don’t fit properly, here is a good way to proceed: After securing the first cap, stand the case upright, apply glue to the top of the case, and add the remaining caps. Use painter’s tape wrapped around the outside of the mitered corners to pull them tight.

Step 10

sink the nails with a nail set

Not everyone has a compressor and nail gun. (You can get a basic kit at Lowe’s for around $100.) If you don’t have a nail gun, drive the brads almost flush to the surface of the wood, place a nail set over the head of the nail, and tap a few times with the hammer to set the nails below the surface (Photo 8).

Finishing Touches

Step 1

Use painter’s tape to cover the corners of the legs (A) that will receive the aluminum corners (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). A strip of 7/8-in-wide tape on each face of the legs will be enough. Apply a primer and paint to the planter. (A two-in-one exterior paint like Valspar Duramax makes it easy.) Apply the base coat, lightly sand with 180-grit sandpaper, and apply a second coat to all surfaces. Exterior paint protects the project whether it’s used outside, on a porch, or inside your home. Remove the painter’s tape from the legs.

Step 2

sand the aluminum for uniform finish

Use a fine carbide-tip blade in a miter saw (or use a hack saw) to cut four leg covers from 1/16-inch-thick aluminum angle -- the angle is 1-1/2-in wide and will cover the 2-in x 2-in cedar legs. Next, sand the aluminum with a 220-grit sanding sponge. This will clean up any factory marks and give it a brushed-metal look. After sanding the material, wipe it down with mineral spirits (Photo 9).

Step 3

If the project will be used indoors, you can attach the leg covers to the legs. If the project is for use outside, apply a satin-finish spar varnish from an aerosol can to the outside surfaces of the aluminum. Let dry, lightly sand, and apply a second coat.

Step 4

After the varnish has cured, apply polyurethane adhesive caulk to the legs and attach the aluminum. Hold the legs in place with painter’s tape until the adhesive cures. (The adhesive bonds to wood and metal and withstands harsh environments and the expansion and contraction of materials.) When the adhesive has cured, remove the tape and put in your plants!