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Build an Outdoor Planter Bench

Sit among your favorite flowers on this novel bench you can build in a weekend.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Miter saw or circular saw
  • Jigsaw with fine-tooth blade (12 or more teeth-per-inch)
  • Drill, bits, and countersink
  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • Clamps
  • 120-grit and 220-grit sandpaper


  • 17 1"×4"×8' cedar boards (#7499)
  • 2 22" planters (#10001)
  • 2 packages of #8x1¼" star-drive exterior wood screws (#123423)
  • 1 16-ounce Titebond III exterior wood glue (#1444)
  • 1 quart Valspar exterior latex primer (#165218)
  • 1 quart Valspar interior/exterior satin white brushing enamel (#47096)

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

Project Resources


Assemble the Bench Top

Step 1

Cut the eight top slats to 94" by removing some from each end to clean up the boards. To make the frame supporting the slats, first cut four 91" front and back parts and nine 24" parts for the frame ends, internal supports, and stretchers. Set aside two parts of each length for later use as stretchers between the legs.

Step 2

For both ends of each long frame part, draw lines 3/8" from the ends and drill pairs of countersunk 1/8" pilot holes. Clamp the two long pieces to the two short pieces and continue your pilot holes into the ends of the short pieces. Unclamp the assembly, apply glue, and clamp the frame together again. Then drive screws to hold the parts together.

Step 3

Mark the locations of the five 24" internal supports on both long frame parts. Drill countersunk pilot holes in the long frame parts and internal supports. Then glue and screw the supports into position and allow to dry.

Step 4

Measure the combined width of all the top slats, subtract the frame depth, and divide the difference in half. That number will be how far the outside slats overhang the frame. (Figure 1¼ " overhangs for slats 3½" wide.) Mark the overhang on the underside of the first slat and clamp it to the frame while you drill 1/8" pilot holes. Then glue and screw the first slat to the frame and internal supports.

Good to Know

Drill pilot holes carefully to avoid driving screws off-center on the ¾" frame edges.

Step 5

Continue adding slats to the frame in the same fashion to complete the bench top; allow the glue to dry. Use two screws at the ends of all but the two outside slats to join the slats to the frame. Then use single screws to attach the slats to the internal supports.

Cut Holes for the Planters

Step 1

The seam between the two center slats divides the bench top in half. Along that seam, measure 20-1/4 inches from each bench end and mark the centers of the holes you'll cut.

Step 2

Measure the inside diameter of your planter at the upper edge. Divide that in half for the radius and subtract 2 inches from the radius for the radius of the bench top hole. To make a simple beam compass, drill a 1/8" hole at one end of a scrap board about 2" longer than your hole radius. Then drill a 5/8" hole (or the diameter of your pencil) at a distance from the first equal to the radius of the hole. Insert your pencil into that hole and place a nail through the smaller hole. Lightly tap the nail into the center of your circle and rotate the board to draw a circle. Then repeat for the opposite end of the bench.

Step 3

Drill a 3/8" hole inside the circle near the line. Then fit your jigsaw with a fine-tooth (at least 12 teeth per inch) wood-cutting blade.

Step 4

Cut along the circle mark to form the holes on both ends. Then sand the cut ends smooth.

Good to Know

To sand curved surfaces, save one of the waste pieces with a long curve and cut it to an easy-to-grasp length. Hold a strip of sandpaper along the curved surface and use it as a custom sanding block.

Add Legs and a Finish

Step 1

Measure the height of your planter and cut the leg parts an equal length. Glue and clamp the two parts to make each leg and allow them to dry. Then glue and clamp the legs to the underside frame's inside corners and allow to dry.

Step 2

Mark the legs 3½" from the lower ends for the bottom edges of the stretchers. Glue and screw the two end stretchers as shown. Then add the two long front and back stretchers to complete the bench.

Step 3

After sanding the bench smooth with 120-grit sandpaper, remove the sawdust with a vacuum, then wipe with a clean rag.

Good to Know

If you place your bench on ground or a patio that's frequently damp, the ends of the legs may wick moisture.  To seal them before painting, mix equal parts of polyurethane finish with mineral spirits (a half-cup of each should do) and turn the bench on its top.  Using a disposable brush, dab on your homemade sealer until the wood stops absorbing it.  Wood that can't absorb any more sealer will also resist absorbing water.

Step 4

Prime the bench, including the underside and the edges of the holes. Lightly sand the primer with 220-grit sandpaper and vacuum off any sanding dust. Then finish with two coats of exterior paint.

Ready, Set, Sit

Step 1

Find a level location for your bench. Have a helper hold up one end of the bench or support it on blocks while you center the planters beneath the holes.

Step 2

Before setting the bench on top of the pots, add soil to the pots and set your plants (still in their nursery pots) in place while you finish adding soil around them.

Step 3

Lift the nursery pots free of the planters before dropping the bench in place. Remove plants from the nursery pots and place the plants in the holes left in the soil of the planters. Add additional soil as needed.

Step 4


With the bench and planters in place, adds shims for stability as needed. Now sit and enjoy your time outdoors surrounded by greenery.