DIY Modern Planter Box with Not JUST a Housewife

By Bruce Johnson

Guest blogger Stacy Risenmay of Not JUST A Housewife is back with a fun project for anyone with a green thumb. Follow her tutorial and see how to bring your garden indoors with this DIY modern planter box. 

Sometimes when I have a big project that is starting to feel overwhelming, I like to stop for a bit and work on a smaller project. I think I just need to FINISH something. When the project or room I am working on seems like it will never be done, it is nice to have a sense of accomplishment that something did get finished. Shane calls it project ADD, I call it keeping my sanity 🙂

The big project I needed a tiny break from is our upstairs bathroom. The little project I decided to do was this DIY modern planter box.  I partnered with Minwax® to bring you the tutorial. It is pretty simple and would look great indoors or outside on a porch.




3/4″ plywood

Table saw

Miter Saw

Lattice trim

Brad nailer gun


1 1/2″ screws

Wood Putty


Black paint

Minwax® Water Based Wood Sheen

Foam brush

Paper towels

1 1/2″ casters

First, you need to cut out the pieces for the box. I wanted it to be 12 inches wide by 14 inches tall. Since I was doing a basic butt joint, two sides had to be narrower to fit inside the other two sides. You could always do a 45 degree cut to have a prettier corner, but since it was going to be painted and mostly covered up, I didn’t think it mattered to take the extra time. Add the width of two boards and then subtract that from the width you want it to be when completed. For 3/4 inch boards, that is 1 1/2 inches making the inside boards 10.5 inches instead of 12. Because the bottom piece will also fit inside, it will also need to be 10.5 inches.


Because planters will be getting wet when watering the plants inside, the wood will want to warp over time. I have found that brad nails do not hold up well over time. I use screws to hold together planters. Screw together your box, sand it well, and then paint or stain it the base color.


I cut the trim on my miter saw to have 45 degree cuts on each end so when they meet up at the corner they had a nice mitered corner instead of a butt joint. Nail the trim on with a finishing brad nailer or glue it and hold it on with clamps until the glue dries.


Fill the nail holes and any gaps using a wood putty. When it is dry, sand it smooth. Make sure you sand off all putty except where the little nail hole was. Even though putty is stainable, it is only stainable to a point and your finish may look splotchy if you don’t sand off all the extra putty.


Wipe down the planter box after sanding. I ended up hosing mine down because the sawdust in all the little recessed areas was hard to wipe off.  When it is dry, it is time to stain! I chose to use this Minwax® Water Based Wood Sheen. Since it is water-based, it is easy to clean up and because it has a sheen to it, I made sure to wipe off any that got on the painted wood by running a damp cloth over the painted parts. If I had an extra foam brush (I go through them like crazy!) I would have used a damp foam brush since it would have fit so well in between the slats. I did two thin coats. The more coats you add, the more sheen your project will have. I like satin or matte finishes so I didn’t add more but you certainly could for a richer and shinier look.


I am really happy with how it turned out! It is actually going to go in one of the boy rooms I am hoping to work on this summer. That is my next big project after the bathroom renovation. One of the rooms will have a mid-century modern vibe and I think this DIY planter will fit right in with the design.


But for now it will happily reside in our family room!


 Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

Stacy Risenmay is a DIY enthusiast. In her blog, Not Just a Housewife, she shares her adventures of fixing up her 1938 cottage. She believes that whether it’s big or small, everyone should love their space. Learn more about Stacy and visit: You can also follow Stacy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

About Bruce Johnson

Author-craftsman Bruce Johnson has introduced millions of do-it-yourselfers, craftspeople and antique collectors to the world of wood finishing and antique restoration. As the official spokesperson for Minwax®, the leading manufacturer of wood finishing and wood care products, Bruce motivates people to take the initiative to beautify their surroundings. Through his many books, magazine articles and columns, as well as frequent appearances on national television talk shows, Johnson is recognized as an authority in the do-it-yourself community. Appearing on PBS, HGTV, The Discovery Channel, and currently hosting “DIY Woodworking” and “Build A Log Cabin”, on the DIY cable network, Johnson has brought the illustrious craft of wood finishing to the forefront of the American home.

An expert in wood refinishing, antique restoration, and home improvement, Bruce has published more than a dozen books on these topics, including Fifty Simple Ways To Save Your House, The Wood Finisher, The Weekend Refinisher, and The Official Identification and Price Guide to the Arts and Crafts Movement. For more than 20-years, he penned an antique refinishing advice column, “Knock on Wood,” which ran in dozens of antique/collectibles publications. Currently, he writes a column on Arts & Crafts for Style 1900 magazine.

A rare combination of craftsman and journalist, Johnson began his career as a high school English teacher, but left teaching to set up his “Knock on Wood Antique Repair & Restoration” shop. He spent the next 10 years as a full-time professional refinisher, but eventually returned to writing. Yet, Johnson says, he won’t ever be without a workbench and a couple of refinishing projects down in the basement.

Johnson is also the founder and director of the Arts and Crafts Conference and Antique Show held every February in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Grove Park Inn. The conference, which includes the largest Arts and Crafts antiques show, attracts more than 1500 Arts and Crafts collectors each year to its many seminars, tours, demonstrations and exhibits. Johnson is proud to have played a role in reviving interest in designers like Gustav Stickley, who founded the Arts and Crafts movement. His latest book, “Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Furniture,” was awarded the 2009 Thomas Wolfe Literary Award. These furnishings are treasured by such collectors as Steven Spielberg and Bruce Willis, among many others.

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