The Potting Bench

I've always wanted one of those lovely little potting benches they sell in catalogs. You know the kind: covered in stylish clay pots and with potting soil right at hand. Of course, no real potting bench like that works, and my potting runs to the far more utilitarian sort.

So when our neighbor came over on Friday and asked if I'd like an old massage table he'd planned to turn into a potting bench, I took one look and said yes.

It was pretty cruddy: an indoor table that had been outdoors for a while, the upholstery peeled off and the finish following after. I didn't take before pictures because I felt so bad for it. I just got out the palm sander and took off the last of the original finish, then a few cans of spray paint and I transformed the old bench into something more interesting:

My new potting bench

(That's Janis there for scale.)

I still have a couple modifications I want to make. I'd like to add a shelf (or two) underneath for holding pots and flats. And I'd like to make a sliding shelf to fit in that slot, so I can expand my work surface as needed.

I like how the blue pops against the grey of the shed, and the green of the lawn.

The top I made is pretty simple. We scavenged some translucent corrugated roofing from another neighbor, cut it to size, and screwed it in place on some supports I made by routing the corners off some pieces of wood. Then Noel cut me a billionty slats for the top, and I treated them with mineral oil. We set up an assembly line with two drills: he pre-drilled the hole and I screwed the slat in place. Wham, bam, and we had a surface.

Construction of the top

The corrugated roofing means that anything that falls through the slats won't fall onto the shelves below. That means dirt, water, whatever will get tipped into the channels and then wash out the far end of the table. Well, at least I hope that will happen. At the very least it will avoid the usual potting bench drawback, which is that you end up with a pile of potting soil under the bench.

This has not been a great year for projects (though we hope to change that soon), but this one was a fun one.

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posted by ayse on 09/07/09

2 Comments

Looks great! I'll be curious to see how the top works out in practice. An alternative (not compatible with the slide-out from the slot) would be to have a shelf sort of thing under the top, that's pitched forward so the dirt comes out the front.

That could almost work with the shelf in the slot, if I just assume I'm going to have to shake the dirt off that every time I use the bench. However, I'm pretty happy with the corrugated stuff as-is. It does work: I can wash stuff out of there fairly well, as long as it's not totally crammed with dirt. I'll still need a pan for the dirt to happen in -- the next time I'm at the pet store I'll be checking out cheap kitty pans because those work a treat for potting soil.

As for dirt coming out the front, I'd rather not have a rain of dirt on my shoes every time I spill. :)

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