One of the joys of woodworking in how you can make other people's life more enjoyable, which I often think is one of the main motivators for woodworkers. Collecting attaboys. This article and associated video could very well place you in high esteem by any gardeners in your life. The design is easy to build, I took a day or so to build it, and it's easy and convenient. The main feature with building a project like this is to build it around something. In our case we built it around the catching trays that are underneath the grated top.
One of the complaints I have heard over the years is that it's nice to use these stands for potting plants but trying to get the dirt our from under the grates is often a challenge, which is why we gave this stand some standard catching trays and placed them under and easily-removable grated top.
To start off with let's talk about wood. Almost every plan you will see for one of these stands tell you to use Cedar as the wood. We didn't ...
We choose Fir instead. Why? well, the wood is slightly harder than Cedar so the stand will be somewhat sturdier, but when we looked at the price difference between Cedar and Fir, and what our expected life of this stand would be, we decided that Fir would work just fine.
The reason everyone suggests Cedar is that is resistant to rot, but this stand is really only going to rot in 4 areas and that is the bottom of every leg when it is standing on the ground, or some other humid area. To fix this problem we allowed each leg to stand in an aluminum pie plate of wood preservative for a couple of hours while the natural function of the wood is to draw the preservative up into the leg, thus making it at least as rot resistant as Cedar. The rest of the stand will rot little if any because moisture is not trapped anywhere in any of the joints. If the stand gets wet, the water will evaporate off ... and anyway, this stand will work great for 10 years, 15 years if you paint or stain it, and how much longer after that do you need it? In 10 or 15 years it will be time to make a bigger and better one.
To build this bench, we really economized. We only used 2"x3" (5x7.5cm) legs. The height really depends on how is using it but our bench was set at 36" (92cm) with the back legs, also accommodating the shelf were 5 feet (1.5m)
The rest of the dimensions really depend on how long you want your bench to be, and the depth of the fence wants to accommodate what ever it is that you are going to want to use as a dirt catching tray. In my talks with Garden Center Staff, apparently these could be different between countries, hence my reluctance to post actual numbers.
I started off using Kreg Screws for the carcass assembly. The reason I picked these screws is because of the nice big flat head. They grab well and the outdoor version of these screws will last a long time. Stainless Steel screws would have been my alternative. Once the frame was constructed, time to start putting on the detail, like the grated top. Again I used Fir and this time I needed to use a countersunk head because the screw should at or below the surface of the potting bench's top. I simply cut the left over wood I had into 3/4" (1.9cm) strips then pre-drilled each one for the countersunk heads. I you do not pre-drill these strips some of the WILL split, in fact, most of them will probably split.
After the strips are fastened on, they need to have their edges rounded over for 2 reasons, to allow the dirt to fall into the trays easier and to help prevent slivers from people who want to use their hands to help any bits of dirt fall through on to the trays. I used my Trim Router to do this with a 3/8" roundover bit in place, which gave a nice look and feel to the top.
In terms of finishing, you could paint your potting bench or you could stain it or you could stain then varnish it. All of the above will help the bench to last longer. Also keeping it sheltered and out of the sun will do a LOT to make is last longer too, as will treating the bottoms of the legs as I have already talked about previously in this article.
What I like about this potters stand is that it is uncomplicated, easily adaptable to changes in size or even adaptable to different kinds of uses ... It's all up to you, go ahead and make it your own.
Copyright - Colin Knecht