Garden Planter, IdeaRoom, Outdoor Projects, Sawtooth Ideas
Comments 5

Building a Garden Planter Using IdeaRoom

A nice project: a garden planter made of cypress.

A nice project: a garden planter made of cypress.

Last year I built this little planter – it is funny sometimes how various things happen which serve as the spark for a woodworking project. First, a website I am involved with, Sawtooth Ideas, added some plans from Woodcraft magazine. Second, it being spring time, I needed to spruce up my yard a little, and thirdly, I was looking for a quick and easy woodworking project. While browsing the new Woodcraft plans at Sawtooth Ideas, I came across a small planter and a woodworking project was born.

If you are not familiar with Sawtooth Ideas, this is a website which sells woodworking plans (a few of their plans are free) and they have one unique feature: a software product call IdeaRoom which enables the woodworker to view the plan in 3D. IdeaRoom works great on a home computer, a tablet or smartphone and the app allows the ability to do a variety of cool things to the 3D image (more on that later). A fourth reason to build this planter was to see first hand the benefits of IdeaRoom.

Downloading the app and plan to my iPad and iPhone was easy. I was able to take my iPad into Home Depot and look at the plan while selecting the right size exterior grade plywood. This plywood forms the frame of the planter which is later skinned with some beautiful cypress – an excellent outdoor material. I had never used cypress before, so finding a local source was a little difficult, but I found one. With all the needed material in hand, I was ready to get into the workshop and start my next project.

Forming the legs.

Forming the legs.

Plywood is used to create the basic shape.

Plywood is used to create the basic shape.

The planter box completed.

The planter box completed.

In the first image, I use water-resistant glue to bring two cypress boards together which gives me the thickness needed for the legs. In the second photo, note the holes drilled in the box base to allow water to escape. The third image shows the completed box as well as my iPad and IdeaRoom. The box components are joined together using exterior wood screws and glue.

Note the notch in each leg; the box fits into this notch.

Note the notch in each leg; the box fits into this notch.

I begin to add cypress to the sides of the planter.

I begin to add cypress to the sides of the planter.

Thin strips of cypress fit between the panels.

Thin strips of cypress fit between the panels.

Note the grooves cut in the filler strips.

Note the grooves cut in the filler strips.

The only difficult aspect of adding the cypress sides is the thickness of the various parts. The panels are 3/8 inch thick, the filler strips which are positioned on either side of the panels are slightly thicker and the top and bottom rails are even thicker. To bring the cypress down to these various dimensions requires the use of a planer or hand plane.

Drawing the top frame full-size.

Drawing the top frame full-size.

Creating the top frame.

Creating the top frame.

The completed planter.

The completed planter.

Creating the top frame was a lot of fun. To help plan out the construction, I drew the top frame full-size on some MDF. This helped ensure I knew the correct placement of the parts as well as the shape of the curved pieces. I cut the curve on my bandsaw and smoothed the edges with a hand plane. The frame components connect to each other with exterior pocket screws and I used exterior wood screws to secure the frame to the planer. I plugged the screw holes and planed the plugs flush.

After a coat of exterior finish, I selected some plants and placed the planter on my front porch

The planter at home on my front porch.

The planter at home on my front porch.

The moderate size of the planter helps it fit almost anywhere.

The moderate size of the planter helps it fit almost anywhere.

My Thoughts on IdeaRoom

Woodworking plans are everywhere on the internet. In addition to plans offered by woodworking magazines, there is a growing number of woodworkers like me who like to publish plans. With IdeaRoom, Sawtooth Ideas has separated themselves from all other plan providers. It is the main reason I have some of my woodworking plans at their site.

IdeaRoom and an exploded view.

IdeaRoom and an exploded view.

Component dimensions.

Component dimensions.

Opening IdeaRoom in an iPad for example, gives you the ability to view the project in a 3D environment. And as you can see from the images above, you can explode the image and zoom in to get component dimensions. This is why their slogan, “Woodworking Plans for the Modern Woodworker” is so true. Using modern technology, they literally make a plan come to life.

You get the plan in printable form and you get the app and 3D model. Not only that, some of their plans are free, which means a free IdeaRoom app too. Amazing really, so check them out, they have a large number of plans ready for download.

5 Comments

  1. My husband is getting a little more into woodworking right now. I love this! I think I need one. Haha. Nice work!

    • Boymom, you can’t stop at just one planter. This version is sort of small which enables you to make multiples. I envision four of these arranged along our side walkway. Tell your husband I wish him the best.

  2. Nice work Jeff 🙂 They will last you a long time. I built two of these many years ago out of teak, finished them with Penofin oil. Every year all I do is apply another coat of the Penofin oil and they look great.

    • I need to give mine a little cleaning and another coat of finish and it will be ready to go for another season. 🙂

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