Hi Remodelaholics! It’s LZ from The Summery Umbrella, and I am very excited to show you how to create another reclaimed wood project. If you remember last time I introduced how to make a Mason Jar Pendant Light, and today I’ll be sharing a little spring inspiration with this gorgeous Potting Bench. One of the best things about this bench is that there are so many different ways you can customize it to fit your needs.
Like most of my projects, it all starts with a walk to the reclaimed wood pile that is hidden away on my husband and I’s property. We typically have a nice selection to choose from, but it’s very important to have at least a decent idea in my head of what I would like to construct. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but some sort of visual is always helpful. For instance, the lines in my draft aren’t even straight!
As mentioned earlier, you can definitely customize this potting bench to any dimensions that you need for your space, but with this particular bench it measures out to be 6′ H x 7′ L x 2′ W. Needless to say, we plan on doing a lot of gardening once the warm weather starts rolling in. Let’s get started!
How to Build a Potting Bench from Reclaimed Wood
2×4’s (reclaimed wood)
1x 8’s (reclaimed wood)
1/2″ plywood 4’x8′
12″ x 12″ mosaic tiles
tile mortar (adhesive)
exterior wood glue
stain and polyurethane or primer and paint
**all lumber is pressure treated**
drill and bits
3/16″ v-notched tile trowel
foam rubber grout float
miter saw or circular saw
nail gun (brad)
ruler or anything with a straightedge
1.) If you’ve decided to also use reclaimed wood make sure to go through and remove any old nails, screws or other random bits that are unnecessary. You might be surprised with how much you find! We used treated 2X4s for the framework so they may look old and weathered, but are structurally sound!
2.) Now it’s time to frame the potting bench. As you can see in the below picture you should begin with your legs. Measure and cut the backs, front and support braces and assemble with 3″ wood screws . If you’re working with reclaimed wood you may have to pre-drill all screw holes to avoid splitting of the wood.
3.) Stand up the frame, and install the top shelf and supports. The inner supports are evenly spread 16″-20″ to disburse the weight of the countertop (which will be heavy after adding the tile and mortar)…not to mention pots, dirt etc.
4.) Add the bottom frame which will also support the shelf. Again we used 3″ wood screws for this step.
5.) At this point we ripped 2×4’s (split a 2×4 lengthwise) into 2×2’s, and installed to receive the middle shelf later on.
6.) For the baseboards of our bottom shelf we used treated 1″x6″ fence pickets. They are a good alternative to plywood as they are solid wood and relatively inexpensive. Surprisingly, we ended up not having to trim any to fit, this was done by adjusting the spacing slightly. Like a deck or steps the gaps between the boards would allow any spills to come through rather than saturate the wood.
7.) Install the countertop/tile top. A sheet of plywood was cut and fit into place as a base to support the weight of the tile.
8.) A reclaimed weathered 1″x6″ was used as a border for the tiles.
9.) We love these mosaics for their price and versatility in these types of projects. They were approximately $5 a piece.
10.) To raise the tiles up to level with the top of the border a piece of 1/4″ underlayment was fit and installed by glueing and stapling into place. This could also be screwed into place as well with 1″ wood screws.
11.) We used an acrylic adhesive (which is recommended for small tiles) that comes pre-mixed and ready to apply with a 3/16″ V-notched tile trowel. Not a hard task to do, just make sure your adhesive is applied evenly as it will affect how even the tile lays.
12.) Lay out your tiles to the pattern of your liking on top of the adhesive, and apply firm and even pressure to set the them in place. Now, you wait!
13.) After 24 hours of drying time we mixed up the grout (this fills all the gaps of tile and seals them in place). There are literally dozens of colors to choose from and a little goes a long way!
14.) Mix the grout according to the instructions making sure the mix is well-blended without lumps and clumps. The grout is applied with a foam rubber grout float. Push and pull the grout over the gaps forcing it into the spaces. Make sure all the spaces are filled and even. Remove all the excess and give it a little time to dry, but not too much as it will stick to the tile and will not be cleanable. Using a large sponge and a bucket of clean water, lightly wipe off all the tile. Too much pressure could pull grout from the the gaps–in this case its way easier to do than to say.
15.) Then, add the top shelf for support and install top window. The top was a 1″x8″ and the shelf was a 1″x6″.
16.) Add top sides and the curve. We put three screws in place, bent the metal yardstick and traced its curve. The curve was cut out with a jigsaw and copied onto the opposite side and repeated.
17.) Add sides. Again, we used the economically friendly fence pickets, cut to length and beveled on top 10 degrees with the table saw. This allows them to stack on each other like lap siding. An alternative could be to actually use lap siding or plywood. The front face of the “lap siding” was covered by a reclaimed fence picket cut to fit and nailed in place.
18.) This next step is not required, but we decided to use plywood to add backing to both of our sides that would be using windows for the doors.
19.) Using 2″x2″s and more cut fence pickets, a middle shelf was installed.
20.) To install the shelf boards a brad nailer was used however, 1 and 1/4″ woods screws or nails could also be used.
21.) Fit and install your salvaged windows as doors. Our initial measurements were based on the windows we had available. These were installed with simple hinges that we had on hand.
22.) Sand down any rough edges you don’t like.
23.) Then, stain or paint if you’d like. I decided that I wanted to keep a very rustic look and feel to this piece so I only lightly painted the sides. I used a small amount of gray paint mixed with a lot of water to achieve this color. You might have to mix and add paint a few times to find a color of your liking.
24.) Almost done!! Add the final touches to make it your own. You can make this as ornate as you’d like. We added a few hangers, containers, birdhouses and a few other homey touches to create the perfect space for us.
Time and Cost Involved:
This project really depends on what you have on hand, and how ornate you would like to go with your bench. The more you can use repurposed items, and the less details that are used will require less time and effort. This particular project took us all weekend, but we also were creating the entire thing from scratch with many, many details.
I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial, and happy building 🙂