Hi there everyone! Its me, Sara from Twelve On Main, and I am so very excited to be here with you today to show you how I made these amazing DIY large pallet planters.
Now, you are in luck! It has been years in the making to get these finished! About 2 years ago, I asked my husband to make me two of these, and he balked at me. He did not want to deal with the size, the pallets, or the odd angle I wanted them to be. So, when he asked me what I wanted for my birthday, that year, I quickly said “I want those planters”.
And boy was it a birthday present! And now, we are breaking down how we made them! I decided I wanted one more planter so that I could put flank them on the sides of my garage doors. So, I knew it was the perfect time to learn how to build them and get the secret to getting that awesome angle, all with re-purposed pallet pieces!
The instructions for these large pallet planters is for ONE planter. You can make as many as you want!
So, before I get to the list of things you need for this project, lets discuss the pallets. If you have never dealt with pallets and wonder how you get all those pieces of wood off of them, then you are in the right place. The technique that we like to use is to remove them by cutting the nails between the top pallet wood pieces and the thicker center piece.
You need to make sure you wear protective eye glasses!! Those nails can be tricky! We use our Reciprocating saw to make this super easy. And when I say super easy, try disassembling these pallets any other way. This will be the easiest way. I was the one that took apart the pallets, so, if you are a petite woman, feel confident that you can do it too! Justin and Cassity use the same technique, so you can read more about choosing good pallet wood and watch their video demo here.
How to Build a Large Pallet Planter
Now lets get down to what you need for this project:
- 2 by 4 pieces of wood in 8 ft lengths (we will cut them to size)
- Cordless drill/screwdriver/impact driver
- 1 1/2 inch 2 inch, and 3 inch screws
- Pneumatic brad nailer
- air compressor
- Miter saw
- table saw
- measuring tape
- orbital sander
- Reciprocating saw (to cut pallets)
- Approximately 40 pallet pieces
- Black plastic or landscape fabric
So, as we discussed, getting the pallets apart is the first step to making these pallet planters. Once the pallets are disassembled, it is time to get started on the frame of the pallet planter.
You can adjust the size and dimensions of the planter to your own specifications. To make one the same size as ours, you will need to cut from the 2×4
- 4 pieces at 26 inches long and at 5 degrees on both ends (sides)
- 2 pieces at 20.5 inches long and 2 pieces inches at 17.5 and at 5 degrees on both ends(top)
- 2 pieces at 14 1/2 inches long and 2 pieces at 11.5 inches and at 5 degrees on both ends (bottom pieces)
These will form the frame of the planter.
You are essentially going to create a box, but I decided I wanted it to taper towards the bottom, hence the slight angle that the wood needs to be cut.
If you do not want the tapered look, you can easily built this with straight sides. Just omit the angles.
Now, at this point you have 2 choices, you can use a Kreg Jig to secure the pieces together, or drill holes and screw them yourself. We decided just to drill holes and screw them in and also use some blocks to secure the pieces together. Since you will not see this part of the planter when it is finished, it was not an issue I wanted to worry about.
Drilling holes will help prevent splitting in the wood, and make it easier to screw them together.
Start by assembling the frame.
We started by assembling 2 side pieces, using the longer of the top and bottom pieces:
Now you will connect the two with the rest of the pieces you cut (the shorter pieces – it will be the same width due to the added width of the 2×4). If you have someone there that can hold one side, it will make this so much easier.
We drilled and screwed the bottom pieces into one of the preassembled sides, and then repeated that at the top.
Now flip that over and lay the other pre-assembled side on top. You can easily screw this all together now.
Now that the frame of the planter is assembled, it is time to create the pallet look on the outside.
Since there is a bit of a taper to the planter, it is best to start in the middle when installing the pallet pieces.
We measured to the center of one side and marked it. We then cut our first pallet piece to the right length, and predrilled and screwed the piece at the top and bottom into the frame. Continue installing pieces of pallet to the side, until you get close to the edge.
The edge will prove a little more tricky. You will need to cut the last piece on an angle so that it will follow the taper on the planter.
This is actually quite easy to do. Simply lay the piece in place where it will be screwed on, and then trace from underneath along the frame, so that it follows the exact angle of the planter.
Now, take it to the table saw and cut along this line. It takes a bit of practice to get good at freehand cutting, but I promise it is not hard.
Now install those edge pieces.
Do this same thing to all 4 sides of the planter. It will be so exciting to see it take shape!
Once all the sides are done, it it time to trim out the top, bottom, sides, and build those decorative X’s.
I started by stripping down some of the pallet pieces to 2 1/4 inch widths on the table saw. You are probably going to end up using around 15 pieces total. Make sure you use your protective glasses, since I sometimes hit a nail, and it went flying!
The bottom and top will be installed first, cutting them at a 45 degree angle so that they are mitered at the corners.
Depending on the thickness of the pallets you have been using, your measurements here may be different. Just measure from end to end and cut them on a 45 degree angle. Now, do the same to the top sides. You will be adding a top piece to the very top to finish it off. These will go along the sides of the top. Line up these pieces with the top so that the top piece will lay flat.
Once the top and bottom are trimmed out, measure and cut the vertical trim pieces. An easy way to figure out the angles here, is to hold the piece of trim up and trace the angle along the wood.
One thing we did here as well was to miter the long side with a 45 degree angle, so that the two pieces will miter at the corners. It just looks better this way. Repeat this to all 4 sides of the planter.
Last, top the top off with a piece of trim. We did this last so that we had a more accurate measurement of the width of the top.
Now, at this point it is looking pretty good! But there’s more to go! Lets add those X’s to the sides.
We made these X pieces 1/4 inch thick, by 1 1/2 inches wide. We simply cut some pallet down on the table saw. Using the same method as with the corner pieces, cut one long piece that will lay at one angle, you can easily lay it against the planter to get the right angle to cut it.
Next, you will need 2 pieces to finish of the other side of the X.
My husband is pretty smart and laid a piece of wood across the first side of the X that is installed and traced the places it needed to be cut, along with the angles they needed.
Repeat this on all 4 sides of the planter.
After this is all done, I like to give the edges and surfaces a quick sand, just to knock down any sharp and rough edges. This planter is meant to showcase the texture and color of the pallets so we left them as untouched as possible. You could definitely spend a lot of time sanding or planing them down to make them look more chic.
Now, you may be wondering…..what about the inside? Its just a shell! How do you plant something in that! Well, we are not done.
This part was my genius husbands idea…..
Think about it. If you filled this entire planter with dirt, you would never be able to move it! It would be so heavy, and that is a lot of dirt!
So, this is what we did.
We measured down to the halfway point inside the planter. We then cut some 4 inch long blocks from left over 2 by 4’s and screwed them into the inside of the planter in all 4 corners. Then you can take a piece of plywood or left over wood of any kind. We used old melamine we had lying around. Measure and cut it to the size you need to sit on top of those blocks. Ours ended up being around 20 inches.
Now, screw the this piece into the blocks.
You can now either waterproof or enclose this part of the planter. We chose to use some rubber sheeting that we had, but black landscape plastic works great too. We stapled this into place on the bottom and then added the sides. We made it as tight as possible so that it would hold all the soil and water, but allow a bit of drainage.
Last is to plant your flowers, bushes, or whatever you choose! I chose boxwood bushes because they just look so good!
I placed my planters in either sides of my garage doors.
They really brighten up an otherwise ignored spot on our home. I am now obsessed with this space!
Since we only filled half of the planter with soil, it is still pretty easy to move these around. I mean, its easier if my husband helps me, but I was able to move them all by myself!
The rustic look of the pallet wood looks so good with the refined boxwood bushes.
I just love the simple detail that pallet wood lends to a project.
I am so very thrilled with this project. I will not lie, it was a beast of a project, but it was so very worth it!
What do you think? Is this a project you would like to tackle? I love them and can’t wait to build window boxes that match!
I would love it if you would stop by and check out some of my other DIY projects at my website, Twelve On Main.
Here are a few of my favorites:
More DIY Large Planter Tutorials: