Every woodworker has a surplus of scrap wood. It just piles up, faster than you know. I purged a lot of my scrap wood on the move out here but I did keep a few choice pieces. But after the garage was built, I inherited a small pile of lumber, mostly construction grade stuff. Lots of 2×6’s and a few nice 2×12’s, and quite a few pieces of cedar trim.
When you live on this island, you don’t let a lot of things go to waste. I get that, and I’m totally down with that concept, but at the same time I don’t want to be a hoarder. Not only do I not have the storage space, but the tenets of my religion forbid it. Thou shalt not be a freaking hoarder. Don’t own stuff you don’t need, don’t keep stuff you won’t use.
Anyway, that’s a long way of explaining why I feel compelled to periodically make a woodworking project entirely out of scrap wood. In my case, I have a crapton of 2×6’s, most of which are marked to make a deck or a shed or something but I can spare a few.
The back door of the house is a double door with these big glass panes that let the light through. They’re lovely. And they afford the entire living room a direct view of the ugliest shed in the San Juans (click here if you think I’m joking). So we figured we’d get some bamboo for screening and put it in a big planter box so we can look at the bamboo and not the shed. We’re pretty smart, huh?
The wood, I discovered, was being guarded by a small army of carpenter ants. I’d ask them to work for me since I have a myriad of carpentry jobs to get done but they’re union and I’d have to pay out the wazoo. Well, the rule of ants is that where there’s one, there’s a million, so I had to make sure the wood I took from the wood pile was ant free.
The planter box would be pretty simple, I hoped. I’d just cut notches in the ends of each piece and stack them all together. I’d like to thank my mother for buying me Lincoln Logs for Christmas in 1972. They taught me a lot about how to build things.
I was actually hoping to not have to use fasteners or nails of any sort but I decided to toe it together with some tenpenny nails just to make sure it didn’t fall apart. Since I don’t own a nail gun, that involved me hammering nails at an angle into corners and hard to reach places. Yeah, there was a lot of colorful language coming out of the garage in that particular hour.
The bottom was a piece of scrap plywood that had been sitting outside in the rain for about eight months so I figure it’s already acclimated to being moist and moldy. I did line the inside with some thick plastic, just to help the thing live longer. This planter box should age well. I expect within a year it will be gray and pitted and have moss growing on it, which is the intended look I’m going for. A bald eagle stopped by and gave my planter a little nod of approval, and I took that to be a sign of good fortune.
So there you have it. Nothing but a few 2×6 beams and a sheet of plywood screwed to the bottom with like twenty decking screws just to make sure it stays affixed for as long as possible. I didn’t even treat the wood with anything, I’m just leaving it outside to rot. In a good way. It should weather well out here, and should look great for many years. When it’s finally ready to be put out to pasture, literally, it can be simply taken and set in a field where the planter and whatever’s growing in it can just become part of the earth. It happens faster than you think out here.
It sure beats staring at that ticking time bomb boiler in the crappy shed.
I fully expect that bamboo to take off like a weed on steroids. There’s actually two species of bamboo in the planter, both known for their aggressive growth and screening properties. If the whole thing gets overtaken by bamboo growing out the sides and bottom, I’ll be happy.