Monday, August 22, 2011

DIY Potting Bench with Dad

Posted at 8:11 PM by Hidayat Hidayat

Well hello there! Thanks so much for your excitement over our patio project. ;) Today they finished installing and mortaring the fireplace. (It was dry fitted before.)Tomorrow they start applying the stone. YIPPEE!! I think the landscaping may start as early as Thursday or Friday.


Because we are on an outdoor roll lately, I got some mojo up in here and tackled a project I’ve wanted to do for years.

I’ve always wanted a potting bench…you know, for all the plants I can’t keep alive. ;) I wanted it for planting, but also for entertaining. A separate spot to put ice, drinks, food, whatever, sounds awesome.

So the potting bench was the perfect answer. And my Dad said he’d help me build one. GLEE!!

He came over and I showed him my inspiration photo from Pinterest:

pottery barn abbott island

That would be the Abbott Island from Pottery Barn (of course) and it is pretty awesome, yes? The price is pretty awesome too – as in I’m pretty awesomely going to pass out, $1000.

Dad’s response? “We can totally do that.”

OK, I added the totally…he didn’t say that part. But he knew we could do it!

We took a trip to my fave True Value (Pendleton, IN) and looked through the HUGE lumber yard:

(That’s only half of it.)

We talked about what type of wood I wanted to use. Initially I wanted cedar (because it would hold up best outside) but it is a bit more expensive. Then Dad asked if I’m good about putting outdoor stuff away or covering it for the winter and my response it was a quick and definite NO.

So we went with cedar. :)

true value lumber yard

We got our supplies – 4 x 4’s, a few 1 x 4’s and a bunch of 1 x 6’s. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll show you those in a video below.)

We cut the 4 x 4’s to 36 inches, then stood them up to start our design:

We cut the 1 x 4’s to the length we needed (more on that in a bit), then attached them with screws to the top of each 4 x 4 and about a foot from the bottom of each as well (for the bottom shelf I wanted):

You can see here how the 1 x 4’s (the long horizontal boards) go off the edge of the legs a bit:

That’s because we created a “frame” around the whole thing, on top and bottom:

make your own potting bench

No mitered (angled) cuts – just simple, straight ones. The best kind. ;)

For added support, we put a couple more boards on the inside of each leg as well:

potting bench supports

See in that upper right picture, how basic this is? It’s just boards screwed into boards. If you have tools, YOU can do this. I mean it!! Yes, I am yelling at you!!

We added a couple more boards to the middle, again with screws – just for a bit more support:

More support never hurts. ;)

Then we cut 1 x 6’s to the depth of the table (about 25 inches) and laid them across the bottom. Yet again, we just screwed them in. No glue, no nails. Just screws.

Easy peasy. I swear.

We cut more 1 x 6’s to fit the top, this way going with the length of the table. Our cuts were a bit off and we were getting a little tired and a lot hot, so we just installed them, then Dad cut down the edge with the jigsaw:


It worked like charm!

And then…we were done. Start to finish, it took us two hours. TWO HOURS. Yes, I am yelling at you! ;) I can’t believe how fast it went!

We were both in a groove, because this whole thing went like buttah. Not one issue -- we couldn’t believe it.

I found some basic, low profile hooks at True Value as well and attached those to the sides:

potting bench hooks

I have no idea what I’ll hang on them but they look FAB!

I love it so much!! (Yelling!):

DIY potting bench

I did a quick video to show you the details up close, just in case this isn’t clear. It really is a basic as it looks though – it came together easily.

Here’s the video and I cannot believe I put my face on here, seriously. I had been sweating profusely for two hours straight. And I say “um,” “basic,” and “just” an awful lot. I’m no TV star people:


You can see on the video that the bench is placed over our fireplace vent right now but the fireplace is not on and the pilot light is not lit. It will be moved over. Do not put anything near your vent!

So here’s the PB version:

pottery barn abbott island

And ours:

pottery barn knock off potting bench

The PB version is 50” wide, 28” deep and 36” high. Mine is 60” wide, 28” deep and 37” high. I didn’t even plan on the dimensions matching up so much, it just worked out that way. :)

The cedar wood cost about $130 – not a cheap project, but considering it’s $870 cheaper than my inspiration, I’m thrilled. And mine is even wider than theirs!

I’m trying to decide if I’m going to add some wheels – I found these super cool casters at True Value:

I just don’t know if they’re chunky enough. I may put them on just to see – it won’t hurt!

Now…the BIG question! What to do now? I had planned all along to stain or paint it. When I mentioned that to my Dad I think he may have had a small conniption. ;) He said the cedar will age beautifully over time and he would just leave it.

And when I hosed everything off, it was even more gorgeous – the water brought out all the beauty in the wood:

cedar wood potting bench

So now I’m leaning toward just a coat of poly or Tung oil, to bring out the tones of the wood.

What would you do? Paint it? Stain it? Leave it as is? I know what my Dad would do. ;) Once I figure that out, I’m going to start using it and I cannot wait!

Speaking of my Dad – HE IS AWESOME!! It thrills me to no end that we can DIY together like this. I love that we continue to make father/daughter memories, even as I get older. And he reads this blog, every day.  :) Thanks Dad, I love you!


I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

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