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Popular in Gardening

One Window Box, Three Ways

With one simple box, you can add three great finishes.

Tools Needed

Each of our three variations can be built with a collection of common tools:

  • Circular or table saw
  • Power drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Countersink bit
  • #2 Phillips drive bit
  • Hammer
  • A small square
  • Measuring tape
  • Miter box for making 45-degree cuts
  • Nail set (for Picket Fence box)

Materials List

  • Redwood, cedar, or other rot-resistant lumber (see Note below)
  • 3/4-inch square stock of rot-resistant wood for inside braces
  • Decorative trim and/or molding
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Water-resistant glue or construction adhesive
  • Exterior caulk
  • Sixteen or more 1-1/4-inch deck screws
  • Sixteen or more 2-1/2-inch deck screws
  • 4d finishing nails for attaching 1x2
  • 1-inch brads
  • Oil-base primer
  • Exterior latex or oil-base paint in choice of color(s)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint thinner
  • Metal braces
  • Exterior surfacing compound

For wooden brackets

Twenty-four 2-inch deck screws

2x2 or 1x1 lumber

For Pickets

1 1/2x1/4-inch redwood lattice or flats

Additional 1-inch brads


Metal braces

Note: Pressure-treated wood is probably not a good choice for this project because of its tendency to warp. Also, if you're using cedar, it measures differently from other lumbers, so instead of using a standard 1x2 for the trim on the top of the box, you'll need to rip a 1x3 to 1 1/2 inches wide.

Begin building the boxes by creating the basic box shown below.

Sizing the box

You can make your starter box almost any size. If you will be using insert trays, be sure the dimensions are large enough to accommodate the tray completely.

In general, 1x10 lumber works well for most boxes. Follow the diagram shown. The inside corner blocks are cut from 3/4-inch square stock.

Assemble the box with glue and deck screws. Then drill a dozen or so holes in the bottom for drainage.

The Picket Fence

For this variation (shown in the photo on the first page), cut pieces of lattice as shown in the drawing. Glue and nail to the front and sides of the box. Finish with primer and paint.

Decorative Box

This decorative box is painted to suit your style or mood. Look for ideas in a craft shop, or freelance your own design.

To build it, add 1x2 trim to the basic box, then prime and paint with any decorative motif. Use exterior latex or oil-based paint. Or, use acrylic artists paint and seal with one or two coats of an interior/exterior clear polyurethane.

The Cape Cod

You can't beat the simplicity of this painted box and its bracket supports. Choose a color that complements the setting in which the box will be used.

To build it, add trim and cove molding as shown in the diagram below. Build the brackets with 2x2 material. Use a miter box to cut the 45-degree angles, then glue and screw the brackets together. Finish by filling nail holes, sanding the box, and priming and painting it inside and out with exterior paint. See "Putting It Up" (below) for details on hanging your box.

Putting It Up

To hang your window box, use heavy-duty metal braces or brackets. Or for the Cape Cod model, use the wooden brackets. Be sure any supports are secured securely to studs in the wall (look for a row of nails in the siding for a clue about stud location). Also add a few screws through the back of the box into the studs.

If you have bevel siding, fill in the gaps between the back of the box and the siding with shims, as shown here.

Attaching the box to a brick or stucco wall requires a different approach. Check with your home center for ideas and materials best suited to your situation.


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