Home-made Indoor Pallet Wood Trellis Planter - Part 1 the Base

Many people complain that pallet wood isn't a suitable material for use in anything but rough and ready carpentry or cutting edge rustic design. I hope this shows that with a little effort, a free and valuable resource can be used to elegant effect.


We have three greenhouses in the garden for growing vegetables, none of which are heated. To overwinter our chilli plants, peppers, aubergines, sweet potatoes, ginger and turmeric we decided to bring them into the kitchen and keep them going and growing in this planter made entirely from pallet wood. In addition we also sowed some nasturtiums and lettuce, this to provide some early fresh leaves for salads. The trellis at the rear of the planter gives us an added dimension in which to grow sweet potato vines and nasturtiums .


Because the planter was to be in the house all Winter I decided to plane all the wood so it looked more like an item of furniture. Furthermore, I chamfered each plank's edges to make the walls less monotonous. This being so, all the pallet wood was selected and checked for nails. I planed the surfaces with an electric planer. The chamfering was undertaken with a router with a 45° conical bit.

The wall planks, nailed to top and bottom rails were also planed and chamfered. The planter dimensions were 1.07m x 0.41m x 0.39m this latter dimension was chosen so that three wall planks could be cut from one standard pallet plank of 1.20m.

I selected a a long pallet wood plank, to make the top and bottom rails and cut it in half lengthwise. I then planed and chamfered the two rails.

I did the same with the planks selected to make the walls.

Notice that the planks are not the same width.

To ensure the opposing walls were of the same length, I laid the planks out prior to assembly. A little 'shuffling' was needed until this was achieved. Hey, it is free after all!!

The wall planks were nailed to the upper and lower rails and for aesthetic reasons I decided to mitre the ends of these rails. 

To this end, I laid the rail against the edge of the wall and marked the cutting line at each end which was set by the wall length plus twice the rail thickness (one additional thickness at each end).

Once cut (I used a mitre block to guide the saw) the wall planks were laid on the top and bottom rails and were checked for squareness prior to nailing. To prevent splitting at the end of the planks, I pre-drilled the nail holes with a slightly under-sized drill.

When both front and rear walls were made the operation was repeated for the side walls, once again ensuring the planks were shuffled to give the same wall width.

One important point is that the end sidewall planks were offset from the top and bottom rail ends by the thickness of a wall plank so the mitred ends of the walls would meet.

The four walls were screwed together whilst resting on a smooth flat surface.

Four base-support rails were cut and screwed to the bottom of the planter and planks were cut to the narrower dimension of the inside of the planter.

The two base planks which were butted against the end walls were screwed to the bottom rails as illustrated. This was an essential stage in the assembly as this stiffened the whole planter. So as to have the maximum effect, I selected as wide a plank available for this (105mm/4").
The remaining planks were just laid in position without securing.

As usual, there was someone on hand to check the progress of the build.

And that's it! In the next post I'll describe how I made and fitted the trellis. You can find it here


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All the best, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014


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