Thursday, June 5, 2008

Building Better Boxes

Now that I have been living with my easy wooden planters for two weeks I can say that some are better and some are simply functioning. All will survive the season, but the warping induced by the wet soil on one side of the wood, and sunny dryness on the opposite side of the wood is causing problems. Some woods handle this environment better.

I made boxes with four types of wood planking: Poplar, Pine, Redwood, and Cedar.

Here the Poplar planking is pulling away from the structural framing on the bottom of the box. Additional screws may solve this problem.

The Poplar is most prone to warping. In this photo, the top planks are pulling away because I planked 2 inches above the framing.

The Pine is hanging in there, showing a little, but expected, warping stress.

The Redwood and Cedar are both performing admirably as expected.

So if you want to make boxes that do not warp so readily, pick Redwood or Cedar. There are also some tropical hardwoods, like Ipe and Teak, that will hold up just as well.

As for structural improvements, heavier structural framing (2 X 3 instead of 2 x 2) and sinking more decking-type screws per plank may shore up these easy boxes without too much extra effort.

To get a better planter, you will need to spend much more time and/or money. Professionals would likely use exterior-grade plywood for the interior box and tongue and groove planking for the exterior fascia. Often, they will build in a ledge around the top rim of the planter to keep water from easily working its way between the plywood and fascia. Other decorative touches are often added. The wood will then be stained, painted, or sealed to protect their workmanship from environmental stresses.

Enough to make those 5-gallon pails seem all the rage.

1 comment:

  1. Where were you able to get cedar? My husband and I have tried two separate lumber yards and the local Home Depot and none carry cedar.


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