Make your own Potting Bench with a Cast Concrete Countertop and a Galvanized Corrugated Metal Roof. This Garden Potting Bench is made from rough sawn Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir. This is Part 1 of the series.
Background for the Garden Potting Bench
(transcript of the Build Video Part 1)
Hi everybody, in this episode I’m building a potting bench.
In our garden here just past the gate there was a perfect spot for a potting bench. I’ve been wanting to build a gardening bench for Marilyn for a while now and make it a permanent addition to the garden. It is covered with a corrugated metal roof so, for stability, the legs are attached to concrete footings. In the cast concrete countertop I added a small sink that uses water from our irrigation system and drains down into a dry well dug below the potting bench. And we added a waste shoot to make cleanup easier.
This potting bench turned out better than I had expected and was fun to build. Here’s how it goes together.
Sketchup Model Design Idea
I poured 5 small concrete footings and attached galvanized post saddles with an anchor bolt.
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The two front 4×4 legs are connected with a 2×6 top rail and a 2×4 bottom rail.
These rails sit in dados cut in the legs. The back side of the bench has three legs. The front and back of the frame are connected with side rails.
Frame of the Potting Bench
And middle supports are added for the bottom shelf and countertop.
Beams are set on the legs and rafters lay across them. Strapping is laid over the rafters and corrugated metal panels finish the roof.
A cast concrete countertop is placed on the rails and a sink added. Additional framing is added across the back to support the top shelves. 1×6’s are laid across the bottom rails to finish the lower shelf.
Concrete Countertop and Shelves
A back wall is added to this lower shelf with 2×2’s and more corrugated metal. We’ll use a bucket to collect scraps that fall through the waste shoot hole on the right end of the counter.
I’ll use Western Red Cedar for most of this build with the exception of the 2×6 top rails. I selected Douglas Fir for them as they would flex less under the load of the concrete countertop.
Selecting and Cutting Stock for Potting Bench Build
I’ll start by cutting all the main parts to length. A large miter saw is not necessarily required for this build. You could get away with a circular saw and speed square and do just fine.
I’ll be using full dimension, rough sawn lumber from trees felled and milled on our property. I have plans available for download here. These plans use nominal lumber sizes like what you will find in any big box hardware store or building center.
I take the time to pick the best materials possible. If I have a 4×4 with a noticeable bow then I may set that one aside or use it for a beam instead of a post or bench leg.
All five legs of the bench have dados to accept the top and bottom rails. This will make a stronger joint and transfer the support of the concrete top from the rails to the legs better, without straining the screws at the joint. And, I just think it looks better.
I gang the legs together with pipe clamps so I can make these cuts over several legs at once. It’s a matter of cutting a series of thin slices then breaking them off. Then cleaning up these small broken edges with a sharp chisel.
Cutting Thin Sections
There’s something very satisfying about making these dados. And it’s very easy to do in this soft red cedar. Setting the depth of the blade is really the only thing that’s fussy about it. And if your dado section has a knot then I’d make a few more cuts closer together. But even then a sharp chisel should shave that off quite well.
I will be cutting a quarter ellipse profile on the ends of the rafters and the beams. I printed the page from the plan with a full scale profile that I will cut out and use as a pattern.
Pattern for End Profiles
I have the five 2×4 rafters cut to length and I’ll copy the profile on each end.
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