As a kid, hide & seek is an all time favourite game. Finding little nooks and crannies to hide in while others looked was always fun. When we finished the rock garden by the air conditioner, the planters beside the big air conditioning unit, just lost some of its lustre and beauty. So we decided to play hide…not so much seek with the air conditioner.
For this project I used the following wood:
- 8 – 1x6x8
- 6 – 1x2x8
- 7 – 1x3x8
- 2 – 2x2x8
I also used the following tools:
- Mitre saw
- Drills with pilot bit and Robertson bit
- Kreg jig
- Finishing nails
- Staple gun
I finished the planters and screen with:
- Varathane Gel Stain in Weathered Grey
I started by cutting all my pieces. I wanted to stain the pieces before I assembled the boxes and screens as I felt it would give me a better coating in the areas that there would be seams. Below is my cut list:
- 32 – 1x6x8 – cut to 24″
- 11 – 1x2x8 – cut to 43″
- 8 – 1x3x8 – cut to 24″
- 4 – 1x3x8 – cut to 26 1/4″ – with the ends cut at 45 degree angles for framing
- 4 – 1x3x8 – cut to 24 5/8″ – with the ends cut at 45 degree angles for framing
- 8 – 2x2x8 – cut to 30″ – note, I ended up removing 2″ as it sat too high. If you are building this for on a flat surface, you may want to bring it down to 25″ height.
Once I had all the wood cut, I started staining each piece. I have used both liquid and gel stains, and lately have tended to purchase more gel stains. I find the they both go on relatively the same, but with the gel stain, I am able to work the stain to a consistency or coverage that I like very easily. I wanted the wood to look aged, so I still wanted a lot of the wood to be peeking through. I made sure to put limited amounts of the gel stain on the cloth and worked it in with some good ol’ fashioned elbow grease. With some of my other projects, I have coated, dried and then wiped clean the excess. This time, I rubbed it in until it was dry, giving it a more faded look.
I decided to start with the front of the boxes as I knew one side of the box had to have one of the 1x3x24″ boards hanging over by approx. 2″. This is the anchor point for my screen that will go in front of the air conditioner. I used 1 1/4″ wood screws and put it together from what would be the inside of the box. This allowed me to add the trim pieces without having screws or nails being seen from the outside.
Once I had that piece together, I used my Kreg jig to put in 8 pocket-holes – 2 per each board. Then I attached the side of the planter using 1″ wood screws. I did the same with the other side. By attaching the way that I did, it took my 24″ square box and made it more rectangular, which I was fine with. If you would like a perfectly square planter box, you will need to bring 16 of your side boards down to 22.5″. This will make it 24″ once it has all been assembled.
To finish the last side, I put 2 pocket holes into each board, on each side, clamped all the siding pieces down and flipped the 3-assembled-sides over on top of the last side. Then I screwed them into place. Once the box was complete, I added the legs of the box.
We didn’t want to fill a 24″ deep box, so at the middle seam, I attached a 1x2x20.5″ on two opposite sides. This would become a mounting point for some cross-beams, allowing me to make the bottom of the planter half the depth. I then used 5 pieces of 1x2x22.5″ (per box) to create a support for my planter bottom.
As mentioned in my previous posts, we have purchased a heavy-duty, commercial grade landscaping fabric. I have used it in the past to build my grandmother a planter, and it worked great. So, we decided to use the same fabric for these planters. I cannot remember the exact size that I cut the pieces, as I eye-balled them from the roll and cut off any excess that there was.
At this point, I hadn’t thought to put a frame on top of the box as the original design I had seen on pinterest didn’t have one, but once we had the boxes into the garden, we realized they kind of looked like glorified garbage bins, so we decided to add the finishing touch on the top. It is amazing how the smallest addition can elevate your design.
While I worked on the top frames, K started filling the boxes with soil and got the flowers planted. As mentioned above in the cut section, I had originally built our legs a little long, so I used our jigsaw to cut them down to size. We knew that we wanted them sitting above the rocks rather than on the rocks, hence the longer legs. The rocks are approximately 4″ deep.
Building the frames, I used some wood-glue and a heavy-duty staple gun. I clamped them down for the night to ensure that the corner joints had a good, solid binding. I gave them a quick stain and used some finishing nails to attach to the box. I did end up also putting a screw into the frame on two of the cater-corners. I put it on the inside where it would not be seen, and used finishing nails as they blended into the stain. I like the look of no screws or nails and didn’t want to change that.
You will also notice, or maybe you can’t quite see it in the pictures and I didn’t note it on my drawing, but I only put the vertical boards in the two front corners, the edge where the screen connected and the back corner facing outward. As this was against our house, and the screen would be hiding one of the corners on each box, I did not bother including that decorative piece. If you are building a single planter without a screen, you will need to cut a few extra corner boards.
Overall it was a great project and turned out relatively close to what I had wanted. K brought up a good point, which is to add some trellis along the back to hide the two pipes from the air conditioner that run up our wall. That addition will be made on another weekend. Hopefully this post will help you build a similar style planter duo and screen, or a modified version that better suits the aesthetics of your yard placement.