Potting Bench - Becky's

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Project by Karson posted 06-23-2011 08:48 PM 5152 views 6 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My daughter just bought an old farmhouse and they are setting up to plant flowers and a vegetable garden.

I had some wood stacked on sawhorses in front of my shop for about 4 years and so I thought I’d build her a Potting Bench.

The wood was identified by the sawmill owner as Atlantic White Cedar. I’ve got some additional wood that looks the same and their father who was the sawmill owner called it Cedar Cypress. Cypress trees lose their leaves in winter, Cedar trees don’t and they said that this was Cypress and they kept their leaves so it was called Cedar cypress. They used it for years as shingles and barn repair wood on their and their neighbors farms. So I’ll call it something.

The wood has a cedar smell and it is quite oily, definitely an outdoor wood. I can’t believe that the scrap that I had left wouldn’t even fill a shoe box. The planks were 1X6 X 10, 1X8 X 10 and 1X4 X 10.

The bench is 47” long and 24” wide. I used 6 planks across the top 2 surfaces and they were 1 X 3 7/8 with a 1/8 gap. I used Gorilla glue to glue it together because of the wood oils and also the outdoors environment. The legs were 2X4 premium treated lumber that is treated with Thompson’s water Seal so they are light in color instead of the green tint. The legs were joined together with bead lock loose tenons at the joints. I used 1/2” tenons. They were made with beech lumber about 10 years ago. I made a bunch of different sizes and use then as needed. I used Titebond 3 for the glue on the joints of the tenons.. Each end was made with 1 – 8’ 2×4. The front was 32” and the cross pieces were 15”, The back leg was 36”. The legs were 22” across and the top is 24” On the bottom shelf the top overhangs by about 1/4” on each side on the top the overhang was 1 1/8” on each side.

The top shelf assembly is glued and screwed but it is not glued where it attaches to the bottom carcus. Just screws. So it can be taken off if desired. The upper shelf supports are offset from the lower shelf supports so that screws could be driven through the shelf into the support.

All of the top surfaces were screwed down by the use of glue strips on the brace supports underneath and then screwed up into the surface planks so there are no visible screws in the decking surface. All screws were stainless screws 2” in length.

The plugs that I used on the back to assemble the shelving were made from Spanish Cedar and were glued in place using epoxy glue. Again to get a good bond on the oily wood.

The plugs were one of those “Measure once, Cut twice” moments. I thought the screw holes were 9/16” and so I made 60 Spanish Cedar plugs in that size. While trying the first one I determined that the plugs needed to be 3/8” so I had to make another 60 plugs. The plugs are all end grain. I drilled the plugs into the end of a board held in a vise and then cut off with the bandsaw. And, then drill again. Throw away all plugs with a flat side. You know the concept of make busy work.

The boards were all ripped to size using a bandsaw with a carbide blade. The surface needed only light sanding.

The plans came from Kitchen Gardener Archive January 1998 Issue #12.

I changed the size to 48” long because my daughter wanted to use it in a small greenhouse.

Lumberjock rydonmf posted a similar one here

I hadn’t seen his until I was almost done and I went searching on LJ for potting benches.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

24 comments so far

View dustyal's profile


1320 posts in 4387 days

#1 posted 06-23-2011 08:58 PM

Nice work… hmmm, she didn’t ask you for drawers to store trowels, pots, or whatever? Nice too that you just happened to have the wood laying around! ... again… !

thanks for posting.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View PurpLev's profile


8600 posts in 4560 days

#2 posted 06-23-2011 09:00 PM

thats a great looking potting bench and that cedar looks amazing.

Thanks for the link to the plan – I like this design and will keep it until I can find the time/materials to make a similar one.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 3966 days

#3 posted 06-23-2011 09:07 PM

Wow, very nice, Karson. I have been thinking of making one for my wife and I, since we both do the gardening together.

Is cedar the best wood to use? I know it was highly suggested for the raised garden box I built, so it would make sense.

--, Making design and application one. †

View CharlieM1958's profile


16289 posts in 5130 days

#4 posted 06-23-2011 09:43 PM

Really nice job, Karson. Now you’re making me feel bad about the one I slapped together with treated pine and deck screws few months ago.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 4277 days

#5 posted 06-23-2011 09:46 PM

Nice looking potting bench. Someday my wife will get one too. I know it’s somewhere on this hunny-do list.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4793 days

#6 posted 06-23-2011 10:27 PM

That is a beaut.

Boy, don’t we all know about busy work. Sometimes ya just gotta.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Karson's profile


35229 posts in 5312 days

#7 posted 06-23-2011 11:05 PM

Thanks’s guys. There are lots of plans (Pictures) of potting benches. This one seemed to me to be very functional. I wanted something with an area when the potting soil would drop through the table (Spillage).

This version seemed to fit the idea that I had quite well.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View lew's profile


13215 posts in 4667 days

#8 posted 06-23-2011 11:18 PM

Sweet Looking Bench!

I really like the “screen” idea.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10951 posts in 4964 days

#9 posted 06-23-2011 11:19 PM

That is a very NICE potting bench!

Those sections on top… is she going to various types of potting soil in them?
... or just pots, etc.?

COOL… She will LIKE that!!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14187 posts in 4894 days

#10 posted 06-24-2011 01:22 AM

that’s a nice project posting. Great article and photo-blog. Sounds like that is a somewhat rare type of Cyprus. Bet it was a dream to work with. Regards DAN

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Grumpy's profile


26681 posts in 4762 days

#11 posted 06-24-2011 02:06 AM

Nice result Karson. We have a pine down under called Cypress Pine. It doesn’t lose it’s leaves but it is more of a pine. One advantage of it is the termites don’t like it much, hence good for building.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 3680 days

#12 posted 06-24-2011 03:22 AM

That is a very nice potting bench. Great job on your photos and description.

My wife just walked by and there for a minute I was worried she was going see it. If she had seen it, I know it would now be on her list of things that I’m requested to make for her. I think if I took a year off from work I might get through her list.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Karson's profile


35229 posts in 5312 days

#13 posted 06-24-2011 04:10 AM

Joe the compartments are just a place to place some of your seeds or bulbs as you are fillings the pots or trays.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Vicki's profile


1128 posts in 4256 days

#14 posted 06-24-2011 04:36 AM

Awesome bench! She’s going to really enjoy that. I like the design too.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View rydonmf's profile


48 posts in 3787 days

#15 posted 06-24-2011 06:08 AM

That looks great Karson. The shelf looks nice and sturdy. Mine has already gotten a lot of use. It has also endured a few storms and held up well. Thanks for sharing.

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