Make an Upcycled Potting Bench

Becky Lamb, author of "Crafting with Wood Pallets," explains how to make a potting bench for your garden.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Tessa Lamb/Becky Lamb

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Photo By: Becky Lamb/Ulysses Press ©Reprinted from Crafting With Wooden Pallets. Copyright © 2015 by Becky Lamb. Photos by Becky Lamb. Published by Ulysses Press.

Make a Homemade Potting Bench

A potting bench for your garden gives you a place to store tools and supplies, and lets you work comfortably with your plants, without bending over. Becky Lamb, author of Crafting with Wood Pallets, explains how to make this project. 

Make a Wood Pallet Potting Bench

Here's what you'll need to make your potting bench: 

SUPPLIES 

  • One pallet with large spaces between pallet boards (this one is 36" × 36") 

  • Five 2" × 4" pallet boards 

  • Four 3-1⁄2"-wide pallet boards, at least 36" long
  • One 3-1⁄2"-wide to 4"- wide pallet board, at least 40" long 
  • One 5-1⁄2"-wide (or wider) pallet board, at least 36" long 
  • Pallet boards in a width (generally 3-1⁄2" or narrower) that will fit in the large spaces in main pallet 
  • 2" screws
  • 1-5⁄8" screws

  • 1-1⁄4" screws
  • 1-3⁄8" brad nails 
  • Hooks
  • Paint in various colors
  • Paintbrushes

  • Clear sealer 

TOOLS 

  • Saw

  • Palm sander 
  • Drill

  • Brad nailer 
  • Tape measure
  • Clamps 

Reclaimed Wood Pallets

Making a potting bench from a wooden pallet takes about 3 hours, plus drying time for any paints you apply. This DIY project is for "expert" crafters. Begin by sawing the pallet in half along the center 2"x4" support board. Leave the 2"x4" attached to the side of the pallet. That will become the top of the potting bench.

Measure the Wood Pallet

Becky Lamb, author of Crafting with Wood Pallets (Ulysses Press), says, "Measure the end width of the potting bench top. Cut two 3-1⁄2"- to 4" wide pallet boards this length. The end pictured here is 18-3⁄4" long."

Attach the Potting Bench Top

Use 1-5/8" screws to attach the boards to the potting bench top.

Making the Potting Bench Legs

For the next step, cut four 2" × 4" pallet boards 36" long for the legs. Then turn the bench upside down and clamp the legs in place. Insert two 2" screws into the front and two 2" screws into the side of the potting bench apron to secure each leg.

Securing the Bench Legs

A clamp holds the wood in place while you insert the rest of the screws.

From: Lynn Coulter and Lynn Coulter

Making the Bench Back

You'll use the other half of the pallet as the upright back of the potting bench. Secure the back with 1-5⁄8" screws, using two per pallet board and working on the two end or outside pieces first. "I was able to hold the back section in place with one hand and drill with the other, but you can use clamps if needed.  At this point I stained the potting bench. It is not necessary to do it now, but it is a little easier to get the stain in all the nooks and crannies if you do," says Lamb.

Measure and Cut

Measure the top 2" × 4" board on the pallet back. Cut the 5 1⁄2"-wide pallet board this length (36" long in the case of the potting bench pictured here).

Make Shelf Brackets

To find the length for the bottom shelf brackets on your potting bench, measure the distance between the outside edges of the legs at the top of the bench near the apron. It is important to measure at the top of the legs and not near the bottom because the legs may not be square. The shelf brackets will help to square up the legs and make the potting bench sturdier. Cut two 2" × 4" pieces the length you measured (16 1⁄4" long for this potting bench).

Measure the Bench Legs

Next, measure across the front of the bench, between the inside edges of the legs. Cut four 3-1⁄2"-wide pallet boards this length (29" long for the potting bench pictured here). 

Prepping the Boards

You're ready to measure the length of the pallet boards that make the top of the potting bench. "Cut the pallet boards of various widths the same length you just measured," Lamb says, "and make sure the boards will fit in the spaces." You may need to sand the edges of some of the cut boards, so they'll fit. "Paint and stain all of the boards you took measurements for and cut...I did not paint the 2"×4" shelf brackets." See Lamb's book, Crafting with Wood Pallets, for more images of each step.

Attaching Shelf Brackets

Now measure 11" from the bottom of each leg and mark that measurement. Place the top edge of the shelf brackets on the 11" mark. Use 2" screws to attach the shelf brackets to the legs; make sure the edges of the brackets stay flush with the edges of the legs.

Placing the Boards

Using the 3-1/2" boards you cut, place them evenly on the shelf brackets. "Attach the pallet boards to the brackets with 1-1⁄4" screws. Create a top shelf by attaching the 5-1⁄2" wide (or wider) pallet board (you previously cut) to the 2" × 4" board at the top of the potting bench back. Secure with 1-1⁄4" screws.

Finishing the Potting Bench

Now you're ready to place the cut pallet boards into the spaces on the potting bench top. Use a brad nailer and 1-3⁄8" brads to secure them. "You could use 1-1⁄4" screws instead," Lamb says. "Accessorize your potting bench with hooks for garden tools, gloves, towels, and a bottle opener. Finish and protect the potting bench with a clear sealer made for outdoor use." Your bench can double as a gardening space or a buffet when you're entertaining. "(It) doesn’t have to go outdoors if you have more use for it indoors—it looks great in a kitchen or entryway.”