Help designing my planter box

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by walkerbait posted 07-26-2016 03:55 AM 475 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View walkerbait's profile


1 post in 817 days

07-26-2016 03:55 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question router

Hey all,

First off, I have basically zero woodworking experience. Well none that’s worth anything anyway.

I am trying to design a grow box that doesn’t require me to put in any screws, nails, or what not when I put it together. I’ve attached photos of what I’m thinking for the frame, then with simple decking laid across the bottom. I’ve chosen a mortise and tenon joint for the base piece (2”x2”) and then groove dove tail (sorry I don’t know the right name) to hold the upright planks and to keep the four corner posts together.

Here’s where I could use some help:

1) Is this easily makeable? I’m not interested in using hand tools—I am thinking a plunge router for the mortises and a table router for the dove tails and tenons.

2) Would you use any different joints for accomplishing the same end goal?

In the end this is going to have to hold a fair amount of weight in wet dirt and plants, so I need it to be strong. I am planning on using cedar or spruce wood since it’s fairly cheap and should be good enough for what I need.

Thanks for your help!!

2 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1066 days

#1 posted 07-28-2016 04:18 AM


There are two considerations associated with the stopped sliding dovetail joint. Some care would be required if the time ever comes when the planter box must be lifted and moved and no glue is used. The side slats could lift out of the dovetailed grooves. The second consideration relates to the fit of the sliding dovetail joint. If the dovetail tongue is just a little too large, fully seating the slat could be difficult (the longer the dovetail the more difficult). If the joint is too loose, the joint would be weakened. A few test cuts could help dial in the fit.

If the planter box components are glued in place, the design looks fine to me. Wiping both side of the joints with acetone and then immediately applying a good water resistant glue (Titebond III has worked well for me) after the acetone has flashed off can help strengthen the glue bond. However, if the design is a glueless box, trying to dislodge the sliding dovetail joint when disassembling the planter box could be next to impossible since the wood may swell. Also, a knock down planter box (no glue) should probably have a lower slat with a sliding dovetail below the mortise and tenon bottom supporting rail. The lower slat could keep the leg from splaying out over time. If a lower side slat is added but held off the floor, the planter box would be more likely to set on the floor without rocking. On the other hand, if the planter box is glued together, I doubt the lower dovetailed slat would be needed.

Ideally the mortise and tenon joints should be a good friction fit. If the dovetail grooves are milled by first using a straight bit to hog out the majority of material, there will be less stress on the dovetail bit.

I would think cedar would be more rot resistant that untreated spruce. If the planter box is lined with a waterproof liner, the planter box could last even longer. A 3 mil contractor trash bag comes to mind. If unlined, and glue is used, a water proof glue may be a good idea, since the damp soil could weaken even a good water resistant glue. Water proof glues can be a bit messy to use and clean up of squeeze out problematic, but should hold up well under constant moisture.

View HerbC's profile


1790 posts in 3006 days

#2 posted 07-28-2016 04:30 AM

Instead of sliding dovetails, why not use thru tendons with wedges? that could be easily disassembled and yet very easy to assemble and quite solid.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics