Builder's Challenge: Flowerboxes
Flower boxes are an easy way to brighten windows, decks, patios and porches. Build your own...after being inspired by these readers' clever creations.
Cliff Muehlenberg of Pewaukee, Wisconsin added this decorative Victorian face to the flower box. The trim was purchased at hardware or craft stores. "The hardest part was choosing the paint colors," he says. To make the colorful finish last, he used a good primer and exterior paints.
It doesn't take a master carpenter to build any of the unique flower boxes pictured on these pages. All were made by regular folks, starting with a basic flower-box plan and run-of-the-mill tools. What they did add was lots of creativity!
The challenge was straightforward—we asked them to build a flower box and embellish it to their liking. The only guidelines—make sure it's a "simple" flower box requiring no special tools and that it's weather-resistant.
You can do it, too! See the next page to start building your own custom flower box.
To most people, leftover tree stumps are unwelcome eyesores, just another hassle to mow around.
But to Jack McClure of Aberdeen, Washington, the 400-to 600-year-old cedar stump in his yard has provided plenty of natural material for unique projects, like the flower box above.
"I split out some boards from the cedar stump," says Jack. "After seeing the wood grain and shape of the boards, I envisioned this simple flower box."
His and Hers
This whimsical flower box, made by Joanna Olsen of Stacy, Minnesota, started with the idea of recycling the antique doorknob. It's now the focal point for the box, a peek inside a his-and-hers closet.
"This project allowed me to be imaginative with stuff that was lying around," Joanna writes.
She painted the box with white exterior paint and covered it with polyurethane.
This instantly weathered flower box was designed and built by 18-year-old Japheth Peight of Lewison, Pennsylvania. We liked his design because of its creative finish. The craftsmanship is also impressive—each piece is individually cut.
"I used regular pine wood and weathered it with a propane torch before sealing with a good water-resistant finish," notes Japheth.
World's Simplest Flower Box
Here's about the easiest way to build a sturdy flower box. Like the readers on the previous pages, show us what you can do with this simple design. Send your photos and a short note about your creation. We'll share the most clever in upcoming issues and on our Web site.
- Our box is made of 1- by 6-inch cedar, but you could use cypress, green treated wood or any other lumber that resists rot. If using cedar, face the smooth side to the inside, which allows for better drainage and easier clean-out.
- Make the ends of the window box with 2-inch-thick scrap lumber. The thicker wood adds strength and durability.
- Generally, window boxes are the same width as or slightly wider than the window. Give boxes adequate support; they're heavy when wet. Never mount directly to wooden window frames...or you'll be replacing windows in a few years.
- Take your time when working with power tools, and wear protective glasses.
- Cedar left unstained will gradually weather to gray. If you want to preserve its natural color, apply a clear cedar sealer, or change the color with tinted deck stain.
Three Simple Steps
- Predrill all the holes approximately 3/8 inch from the edge. Drill all the way through the top board and partway into the board below. Be sure to predrill holes into the thicker end pieces, too, as cedar splits easily.
- Nail the box together. You want to start by nailing the longest sides to the bottom board, using 2-1/2-inch galvanized finishing nails.
- Drill 1/4-inch drain holes in the bottom in a random pattern 2 to 3 inches apart. Be sure to position a hole near each corner so water doesn't get trapped. Weed barrier can be laid inside to keep potting soil from draining out the holes.