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How to build a raised bed

Raised beds become more and more popular. On the one hand, it provides a pleasant and back-friendly working height, with a protection against rodents and other animals. On the other hand, it can almost be described as a piece of furniture for your garden. The construction of a raised bed should be well planned in advance, because most raised beds are not so easy to move. Unless you build such a raised bed as we did. As a container for the flowers we chose to go with two rectangular containers, which you might also know from masons. By using this, we achieve to make the raised bed much more moveable.

For those who also want to build such a planter I have listed the required materials and tools here:

Material Tools
larch-profiled boards, 116x18 mm Cordless jig saw / cordless all-purpose saw
larch square timber 45 x 75 mm Cordless drill with drills and bits
stainless steel- “garden nails” 5 x 50 Cordless multiple sander
2 x rectangular tubs (ca. 750 x 440 mm) hammer
  tape measure or folding ruler

Components of the raised bed

Following parts I cut out of the wood:

Item Material length quantity
Front-panelling bottom Profiled boards Douglas fir 116x18 mm 430 mm 8
Front-panelling above Profiled boards Douglas fir 116x18 mm 270 mm 8
Short lateral panelling Profiled boards Douglas fir 116x18 mm 430 mm 8
Tall lateral panelling Profiled boards Douglas fir 116x18 mm 700 mm 10
Rear panelling Profiled boards Douglas fir 116x18 mm 700 mm 8
Long frame Wood for frame 45x75 mm 915 mm 4
Middle frame Wood for frame 45x75 mm 790mm 8
Short frame Wood for frame 45x75 mm 480 mm 4
Upper collar short side Smooth edge board 80x18 mm 542 mm 2
Upper collar long side Smooth edge board 80x18 mm 850 mm 2
Lower collar short side Smooth edge board 80x18 mm 430 mm 2
Lower collar long side Smooth edge board 80x18 mm 850 mm 1

Which material?

Since it is garden furniture, you should choose a weather-resistant wood. A favorable variant is for example larch or douglas fir. They are available in different qualities. I decided to go for the 18 mm thick and 116 mm wide douglas fir profile boards. The substructure should be made of the same wood. We use therefor 45x75 mm squared timbers. Since my wife did not want to see screw heads, but decorative nail heads, I got so-called "garden nails”. These are specially shaped nails made of stainless steel, which are extremely strong and look beautiful.

The structure

Underneath the plastic tub, a frame made of square timbers is built, in which the tub is placed. This frame is successively offset in height and is held by the planking of the profile boards.

The frames

The easiest way of building the frames is to simply screw them on. However, as the screws inevitably sit in the end grain, they must be very long to guarantee the necessary stability.

It is better if the corners slightly overlap, because afterwards the ends of the strips are fitted together. I know it does sound complicated, but it’s done very quickly with the help of a cordless jigsaw or a cordless all-purpose saw. I recommend to use cordless tools outdoors, because you don't have to struggle with cable drums or cable clutters. In addition you have to produce a wood-connection in the middle of the slats like you can see here. Then I marked the sawing lines, by drilling 10 mm deep holes into the corners with a cordless drill. After that you just need to saw out all the rectangular pieces with a cordless jigsaw.

After all timbers for the frame were cut to length and machined, I was finally able to assemble the framework. The basis consists of two large and one small frame. To connect these parts, I used waterproof glue. The overall stability comes from the outer profile boards, which I also sawed on length.

I assembled everything in the garden instead of the workshop, because I had the problem of the construction being too big for my doors. As always, it’s the beginning which is quite difficult because the three frames must be arranged with the correct distances from each other.

Then I positioned the raised bed on a flat surface on its back. After that I started to nail the first profile board to the front. Be very careful because all the boards following are aligned with the first board. The boards have a supernatant of 20 mm at the top and 50 mm at the bottom. Even though the nails are quite strong with 5 mm, I wanted to be on the saver side and pre-drilled the profile boards. After that is done it gets much easier to arrange the other boards. The nails, which are incredibly firm, have surprised me. This is certainly due to the strange shape. I will definitely use them for other wood projects in the garden.

After the front was planked, I turned everything on the side and planked the first side. Now the whole construction became more stable and I could easily plank the other side and the back. Finally, I nailed the last profile boards to the front of the first plastic tub. Looks pretty good, doesn't it? Now you just need to remove the front ends of the laterally supernatants. I did that with the cordless all-purpose saw. Here it’s important to mark the sawing line properly beforehand.

The collar

The last step is to build the collar, which covers the containers and the end grain completely. For this I cut four boards for the upper collar and three boards for the lower collar. Then these parts get attached with waterproof glue and pocket holes. For this I drilled blind holes with a suitable gauge, removed the burr with the multi-sander, glued the boards on and screwed everything together. This is not only very fast, but also looks very clean. I put the collars on and nailed them tight. Finally, I drilled 2 mm holes into the tubs, so that the water can drain.

When the weather finally gets a little better, the raised bed is put in place and gets planted. My wife is looking forward to it ...!


P.S. If you don't have that much space in your garden and also want something for your kids, you could also build a raised bed - football goal.

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