Outdoor Bench and Planter

It’s time to build some colorful, durable furniture for your deck or patio 

I had a good time building this bench and planter set. It’s a project you can easily complete in a day, and you’ll be rewarded with years of enjoyment with no worries about fading finish, wood decay, or insect attack. This type of plastic lumber, made primarily from recycled plastic, is the type that manufacturers of outdoor furniture prefer. It’s available in a wide range of colors, and in a variety of dimensions.

Glue won’t work on this type of plastic lumber, so connections need to be made with screws or bolts. On the planter, I left the trim-head screws exposed as a design element, spacing them consistently for good appearance. On the bench, screws are hidden under cleats or in pocket holes that are plugged with plastic dowels. The multi-purpose screws I found at the home center work well for pocket hole and other connections. The design details and construction techniques featured here can be applied to other projects using plastic lumber.

A bench built from plastic boards

  1. Cut parts to size. Dimension spacer boards to create a snug-fitting mortise for the beam. 
  2. Assemble the uprights. Drill pocket holes as shown in the detail below, so that 21⁄2" screws extend through spacers and into the opposing upright. 
  3. Install the cleats, beam, and top. Center the cleats on the uprights and attach to both ends with 21⁄2" screws. Next, insert the beam into the upright assemblies and secure each end with a pair of pocket screws. Finally, center the base on the top boards and screw the components together.

Complete the upright assemblies. Set your pocket hole jig and bit for 3⁄4"-thick stock, and drill pocket holes in uprights so that 21⁄2" multi-purpose construction screws will extend through the spacers and into the opposite upright. Clamp the 4-piece assembly securely around a beam spacer block before driving your screws. 

Upside-down assembly. Center the completed base over the top boards, and attach the top cleats. You’re done!

Planter made easy: 4 posts & 12 planks

  1. Cut parts to size. For this overlapping corner design, you’ll need 6 identical short planks and 6 identical long planks. 
  2. Rout and drill. Rout a 1⁄4"-radius roundover along corners and edges of planks, as shown below. Then drill clearance holes for the screws.
  3. Screw planks to posts. Assemble the opposite sides of the box, then join them together by attaching the remaining planks. 

Ready for action. The completed planter will hold a 16"-dia. plastic container. 

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