Beautiful Deck Rail Planters

Walter Green - General Manager
October 7, 2015

Beautiful Deck Rail Planters

Have you ever wanted a space to grow some hearty vegetables or herbs, from the convenience of your deck rail? If so, then here's a quick and easy guide to building your own. So this year, I decided to build my own.

To complete this project the only things involved are stock lumber, a butt joint design, and basic carpentry skills, so this as an attainable project for any beginner who has some experience with power tools.

Here is the Lumber to Purchase:

  • 3 – 8 ft. 1″ x 2″ boards
  • 1 – 8 ft. 1″ x 6″ board
  • 2 – 8 ft. 1″ x 8″ boards (or 1 12 ft. 1″ x 8″ board)

Here are the Pieces to Cut:

  • 4 pieces of 1″ x 2″ that are 48″ in length
  • 4 pieces of 1″ x 2″ that are 7″ in length
  • 1 piece of 1″ x 6″ that are 45″ in length
  • 2 pieces of 1″ x 8″ that are 46-1/2″ inches in length
  • 2 pieces of 1″ x 8″ that are 5-1/2″ in length

You’ll have some lumber left over, enough to get started on a second planter or another fun project!

Before you get the lumber, one thing to keep in mind is that generally speaking, a 1″ board is in actuality 3/4″ thick. And a 1″ x 6” board is in actuality 5-1/2″ wide. On occasion however, 1″ x 6″ boards are 5-3/4″ wide instead of 5-1/2″. So be sure to measure carefully when buy the lumber, and as always, measure twice and cut once in the shop. Fds

Once you have the needed lumber, measure and cut wood to lengths specified above. Measure out and mark each board with a square before cutting. Cut the 48″ 1″ x 2″ boards first. Then cut the 1″ x 6″ planter bottom and 1″ x 8″ planter sides. Follow with the 5-1/2″ 1″ x 8″ and 7″ 1″ x 2″ pieces, being careful to dry-fit everything as you go, making adjustments as necessary.

Now it's time to build the box. First, place a thin bead of construction adhesive on the end of the 1″ x 6″ planter bottom and secure a 5-1/2” side board with three nails. Repeat on the other side. Be sure to keep in mind that construction adhesive is very sticky and difficult to remove, so be careful and clean your work as you go. Apply a bead of adhesive to the edges of the planter bottom and sides and attach a 46-1/2″ 1″ x 8″ side board with several nails. Then just repeat for the opposite side.

Next, you'll need to trim the box. Secure one 48″ 1″ x 2″ board to a 7″ 1″ x 2″ with a single nail to make one corner of the bottom trim. Apply a thin bead of adhesive on the inside and secure to the bottom of the box with nails. Now, secure the second 7″ 1″ x 2″ with adhesive and nails and secure the last 48″ 1″ x 2″ trim board. Repeat the same process for the top trim. You may need to hammer down or cut off the ends of the nails inside the box to keep things safe for planting.

Now you'll need to drill the drainage holes. Using a 1/2″ flat bit (or a similar bit, or even a hole saw), drill several drainage holes in the bottom of the planter. Be sure to space them out to scarcely cover the bottom of the planter.

Take a few minutes to clean up and sand your new planter. Lightly sand the planter to smooth out any rough spots and clean up any adhesive residue that's left over. Then vacuum and wipe the entire planter down with a damp cloth. Be sure to allow it to dry completely.

At this point you have the option to seal your planter. If you prefer, you can leave your cedar planter unfinished, but it will weather and turn gray with age (a look which some people prefer). If you want to protect the wood and maintain its color, you can seal it with a coat of cedar stain, just be certain it has a UV inhibitor in it.

Next, you’re ready to install your planters. There are a number of manufactured brackets on the market for deck rails, so do some research and find one that’s appropriate for your application. After you're finished installing them, the only thing left to do, is fill 'em, plant 'em and enjoy the fruits of your labor!