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How to Make a Tall, Tapered Planter

This Old House DIY Expert & House One’s Jenn Largesse shows how to set up a miter saw to create geometric planter, shelves, and more.

I recently spotted a pair of tall resin planters with a combed finish, they were marked down from $100 each to $60 each, but the price still seemed really high— especially for two. So I got to sketching and figured out that I could make each planter from just two 2 x 6 boards for under $25 per planter. And to create the faux resin finish, I’m trying a new method of skim-coating and combing the surface with a flexible spackling. Since my planters will set on a porch under an overhang, I think this coating will be durable enough for my application, but test based on your own conditions, and read on to see how to create your own.

Steps for making a tall, tapered planter:

Step 1: Cut the boards

Jenn Largesse

Using out cut list above and a miter saw or circular saw, cut the 2×6 boards to size.

Step 2: Prep the boards

Jenn Largesse

Using a drill/driver and a pocket hole jig, drill two pocket holes into one edge of 4 of the 5 boards of each wall.

Step 3: Assemble the boards

Jenn Largesse

Apply glue to the adjoining edges of the boards. Center the boards. Using a drill/driver and 2-inch pocket hole screws, assemble the boards to create four walls, each made of 5 boards.

Step 4: Mark the cut lines

Jenn Largesse

Mark the width of the bottom of each wall centered on the width of the bottom board. You can keep all four sides the same size (which will result in a rectangular planter) or cut the side walls—that will set between the front and the back—skinnier. I marked the base of my front and back walls at 9 inches, while the sides that will set between them only measure 7 inches. Mark a line from the top corner of each side to the mark along the bottom edge. (or two inches in at the top if you’re opting for skinner side walls like mine).

Step 5: Trim the edges

Jenn Largesse

Using a circular saw, cut along the cut lines on each wall. I’m using a Kreg AccuCut to create a straight cut, but you can also clamp a scrap board to the wall to create a fence for the circular saw to ride along.

Step 6: Assemble the walls

Jenn Largesse

Apply glue to the edges of the side walls. Stand the sides on edge. Apply glue to the edge of each side wall. Place the front onto the side walls. Drill three pilot holes, and then sink 2 ½-inch screws through front wall and into the edges of the side walls. Repeat to attach the back wall.

Step 7: Add the blocking

Jenn Largesse

Using the leftovers from the original boards, or scrap wood, create a ledge for the plant to set on near the top of the planter. Also, if you’re worried about the planter tipping, you can opt to add a base to the planter so it can be filled with rocks or sand to add weight.

Step 8: Add the coating

Jenn Largesse

Apply a coating of flexible spackling to the surface of the planter using a large putty/taping knife.

Step 9: Comb the coating

Jenn Largesse

Pull a notched trowel of any kind (I’m substituting a Cove Base Adhesive Spreader) across the surface to create the ribbed look. Wipe the trowel off between passes and dip it in water. Start at one edge corners and carrying the pass across the entire wall in one pass. Tip: try tilting the comb handle closer to the surface as you pull for a less raised surface, and at a 90-degree angle from the surface for a deeper groove. Allow the coating to completely dry.

Step 10: Paint the coating

Jenn Largesse

Apply several light coats of spray paint to the surface, frequently changing angle and direction to coat all edges of each groove. I’m using a flexible coating meant for plastic that expands and contracts to (hopefully) eliminate cracks in the coating as the wood and spackling expands and contracts.


(2) 2 x 6 x 10 Boards per planter (I used regular lumber since my planters will set on a covered porch)
2-inch Pocket Hole Screws
2 ½-inch Deck Screws
Wood Glue
DAP Alex Flex Spackling
Flat Black Spray Paint