DIY Projects

February 9, 2009

DIY Herb Planter Box

Make a planter box that organizes herbs in summer and doubles as an indoor table in winter; locate it near your kitchen door to harvest fresh herbs in a flash for savoury summer recipes. This attractive, cleverly designed wooden box holds three black plastic troughs, available at most nurseries and garden centres, which rest atop a wooden shelf inside the box. A lattice grid made from strips of wood acts as a plant divider on top of the box.

In winter, when the herbs are finished, the box can be brought indoors and used as a table by replacing the wooden grid with a piece of glass. You may choose to stain or paint your planter or contruct it from cedar which will weather naturally. For outdoor use, we recommend a transparent or solid stain.

Materials and Tools


The following lengths of cedar or other wood (pressure-treated wood is not recommended for use with edible plants):

  • 1 4″ x 4″ x 8′
  • 2 2″ x 4″ x 8′
  • 1 2″ x 4″ x 10′
  • 3 2″ x 2″ x 8′
  • 1 1″ x 6″ x 6′

(*For cutting instructions, see below.)


  • Saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Red Robertson screwdriver
  • Sanding equipment
  • Outdoor glue for added stability
  • Protractor
  • Straightedge
  • Dust mask


  • 2 metal “L” brackets*
  • 32 #8 4″ screws*
  • 8 2-1/2″ screws*
  • 16 2-1/2″ finishing nails*
  • 8 3/4″ finishing nails*
  • 40 dowels, 1-1/2″ long and 3/8″ in diameter
  • 40 wooden plugs 3/8″ long
  • 4 post caps

*Galvanized metal is recommended for outdoor use.

Step 1: Preparation

Carefully review the list of materials. Most of the planter is constructed with screws and outdoor glue for added stability. Don’t use glue if you intend to disassemble your planter for the winter.

Step 2: Cutting Instructions

If you don’t own cutting tools — such as a jigsaw, mitre box or power saw — most lumber stores will cut materials to size for a nominal charge.

  • Cut the 4″ x 4″ x 8′ into four pieces, each 16″ long.
  • Cut the 2″ x 4″ x 8′ into four pieces, each 21-3/4″ long, and a further four pieces, each 24″ long.
  • Cut the 2″ x 4″ x 10′ into two pieces, each 32″ long, and two pieces, each 29-3/4″ long. These are the plinth pieces. They will need a 45-degree mitre cut on each end to form a rectangular plinth. The “arches” at the base of the plinth can then be cut with a jigsaw or bandsaw.
  • Cut the 2″ x 2″ x 8′ pieces into the X sides using the diagram as a guide. Make cuts at 18 degrees where each “arm” of each X connects with the corner posts and the top and bottom rails.
  • Cut the 1″ x 6″ x 6′ as follows: Cut a piece 21-3/4″ long to make the planter shelf fit inside the box. Ideally, this should be done once the box is assembled to ensure a perfect fit. Cut the remainder into two pieces 21-3/4″ x 1″ x 1″ and two pieces 24″ x 1″ x 1″; these will make the lattice grid. If you want to stain wood, do so after cutting and prior to assembly; be careful not to fill the screw holes with stain.

Step 3: Assembly

In this project, lap joints are used twice: on the grid and the X panels. To make a lap joint, a portion of each piece must be cut out where they intersect so they fit snugly together and maintain a common thickness across the joint.

  • Start with the four X panels. Create each X by making a 160-degree lap joint where the two crosspieces intersect. If you wish, use 1-1/2″ nails or screws at the intersecting points for additional stability.
  • Attach the X pieces to the top and bottom rails, and fit that assembled unit into the corner posts, one side at a time. Be sure to line things up carefully before securing with screws or dowels. Dowels provide greater stability and should be used for all major joints. Screws should be countersunk. Insert plugs into screw holes afterward to make things visually tidy.
  • Assemble the base (plinth) and place the post and panel assembly on top. Secure with nails or screws for strength.
  • To make the lattice grid, lay out the pieces using the diagram as a guide. Note that the two shorter pieces are equally spaced and parallel to each other. They sit on top of and are perpendicular to the two longer pieces. Make four 90-degree lap joints to join the pieces. Place the grid on top of the planter box to make sure it’s an accurate fit before nailing the lap-jointed intersections. Attach 1/2″ cleats to the top inside edges of the box to hold the grid.
  • Four diamond-shaped caps decorate the intersections of the grid. These are cut from the leftover material that has first been cut down to 1″ x 3″ stock.
  • Fix finial and plate on top of each corner post.
  • Place shelf board inside planter, supported on cleats (or plumbing pipe).
  • Put plant boxes filled with herbs, flowers or vegetables inside box before placing grid on top.