I’ve been trawling the internet for some potting bench inspiration! There are heaps out there, but something about this one really caught my eye:
I love it because:
- It’s a good size
- It could be made using sections of pallets rather than entirely broken down pallets, thus saving time and effort in construction
- It isn’t too heavy and bulky, meaning you could move it pretty easily. You could even add casters to the legs.
The source link for this potting bench was Etsy, but it must have been one-of-a-kind because it has sold and is no longer listed. I wish I could give credit to whoever made this!
Anyways, I set about drawing up plans for my own potting bench, based on this one. I made some minor modifications to allow a slighter deeper bench space and (if desired) a shelf under the table top.
About 160cm tall (benchtop about 100cm tall) x 50cm deep x 125cm long
- 2 pallets (Australian type, or ones with solid stringers rather than blocks).
- One pallet will be cut in half to make the benchtop and bottom shelf
- One pallet will be dismantled so that you can use the stringers for the legs. You need 4 legs so if this pallet only has 3 stringers on it, you will need an additional lump of wood for the 4th leg. Ideally, this pallet should be at least 160cm long so that you can use the long stringers for the back legs. If you can only find standard-sized pallets, you will need an additional 2 pieces of thick timber at least 160cm long.
- About 30 x 40mm galvanised self tapping screws or nails
- 16 x 60mm galvanised bugle-head screws
- Exterior paint or stain
- Circular saw or drop saw
- Table saw or jig saw
- Impact driver with phillips head and bugle-head attachments
- Hammer or nail gun
On the standard sized pallet, make a cut 500mm in from each edge:
So you’ll end up with 2 pieces that will become the benchtop and the lower shelf:
Dismantle the second pallet and cut 2 stringers to 160cm and 2 stringers to 100cm (shorter/longer depending on how high you want your bench to be).
Screw the legs to the 2 sections of pallet as shown below. Use 2 bugle head screws per joint, and pre-drill to ensure the wood doesn’t split. When I make this, I will probably attach the legs with one screw into each joint first, then stand the whole thing up and check for square before putting the second screw in (see my box building post for more on ‘checking for square’)
Note that the front legs are attached to the side of the pallet, and the back legs are attached to the back of the pallet. The back legs are attached with the edge of the pallet at the centre of the leg, so that the leg sticks out only as wide as the front leg.
Finish off the front of the pallet bench & shelf. You have 2 options with this, which I have demonstrated below. The first option is to put a slat on the front of the pallet, as per the bottom shelf in the picture. This is what the original builder did. I think it looks really nice! But you could also create additional storage by putting slats on the underside of the pallet to create 2 little shelves (top pallet in the pic below). You could put a back on the shelf or leave it open – up to you.
Fill in the spaces with slats from your dismantled pallet.
I personally would like a snug fit to stop my potting mix falling through the gaps, but you could also do it like in the original picture with some spaces. I suppose it depends on your pallet and how much time you want to invest!
If you need to cut a slat down to fit the gap, you can do it on a table saw or with a jig saw/circular saw. If the gap is very ‘wonky’, measure the gap at both ends and mark this on your slat. Then connect the marks with a ruler and cut along the line with a jig saw.
Back slats. Here is where I differed from the picture a bit. The builder of the original bench put the slats on the front, but I will probably put mine on the back of the leg posts. This will:
- Give more bench room
- Provide a flat surface to screw the bench to a wall if required
Step 6 (optional)
Add screw-in hooks to the back slats, to hang potting tools from. Add a slat to the top to create a little shelf.
Finishing. Paint, oil or stain to your liking 🙂