How to make your own DIY potting bench by turning an old patio table into the perfect planting table for your garden.
I built something!
Or should I say I rebuilt something?
I have been wanting to have a proper spot for potting plants and working on garden projects for some time now. I was thinking I needed a proper potting table. I even had the perfect spot for it: under our new porch roof close to the garden sink.
Next to that garden sink is our kitchen door. So the work table had to be narrow, like a side table or it would be in the way.
And this is what I came up with:
Isn’t she pretty? My upcycled DIY potting bench with a galvanized metal tabletop.
And the whole gardening table set up is so functional too! I already used it tons of time, now that the spring season is on.
I am in love with my new potting table!
Well, truth be told there is absolutely nothing new about it. In fact, everything is very old. I totally went the repurposing and upcycling way for this project. I built my DIY potting bench from an old garden table. The only thing that is new, is that custom-made galvanized steel top.
I love repurposing furniture. The old kitchen table that I turned into an outdoor garden table, is still in use in my garden today.
Here is the before-image of our old garden table. It had served us well for many years. But the legs were wobbly, the top was splintering and the size wasn’t a great fit for our new garden terrace anymore.
This poor table was falling apart under our hands, so we talked about replacing it for at least two years now. Recently we shoved it to the side, waiting to be thrown away. Or not….
I decided to see if I could make her work for us yet.
RELATED: If you like the idea of building your own outdoor table, or creating the perfect garden table for your needs from an old one then you will love these 51 ideas for DIY outdoor tables.
How to build a clever DIY potting bench from a garden table
As I said full size, the table was in our way. I wanted a narrow garden table that could double function as a side table and buffet for garden parties.
If you are thinking of doing something similar, let me say that this project was a lot easier than I anticipated. I didn’t have instructions to follow, so I made up my steps as I went along.
I can say though that building a wood potting bench from an old table is so much easier than working with a cut list and building a frame from scratch. This is definitely a beginner project because other than some basic sawing, hammering, and screwing there was no special woodworking technique involved.
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Tools I used for building my own potting bench
- Hand saw. Make sure it is nice and big and most of all sharp
- Handheld drill and screws (for outside use)
- Crowbar for taking a pallet apart
So I cut her in half…
Well in three parts actually…
I put the saw to work and cut out the middle part of the table. I was aiming for two pieces that together would make a table of about 50 cm wide (that would be 20 inches).
I needed to support that middle part when I was sawing through the last plank that held it together in the middle. Don’t you think I came up with a highly technical solution for that? Yeah, I think so too.
Time for a trial run.
Yes, I think this could become something. Let’s move on.
I glued the two pieces together and reinforced the cuts with some small wooden bits. I say I here, but I mean the man did. This whole project was my mastermind idea, but in all fairness, he did most of the work. I bargained with him “ do you want to make lunch or saw the table in half?” and “ honey I can’t cook diner I am busy putting the table back together!”. Worked like a charm.
Then I needed something to make the table a lot sturdier. Sawing that baby in half hadn’t exactly solved the problem of the loose legs. But I didn’t want to use new wood, I wanted it aged and blending in with the weathered grey wood of the table.
Enter a very old, and very weathered pallet that had been lying behind our shed all winter. It was a bit moldy and very dirty and falling apart. It was perfect.
So I disassembled it. Let me tell you that was the hardest part of this whole project. Getting the nails out of this thing without demolishing the wood was hard work. But it had to be done. I used a crowbar and hammer for this part.
In hindsight, I have since learned that it would actually have been easier to take it apart if the wood had been wet. A well, lesson learned.
I used the thick cross beam to make extra supports between the table legs making them sturdy again and solving the wobbling problem. As you can see the pallet wood blended in perfectly with the old table. Looks like it has always been there. If I didn’t know any better I could have thought this was a complete DIY pallet potting bench, that’s how well the old table and the old pallet wood blend in with each other.
Adding more storage to my garden workbench
I still had that middle piece I cut out and decided to turn that into an extra shelf to create a bit more storage space. Because the pallet was very old and weathered the shelf looks like it has always been there. Reclaimed wood is just the best!
I reinforced that with more scrap wood and then she was ‘finished’.
That shelf is perfect for tool storage. I found a couple of galvanized crates that function as drawers and that now hold my garden tools.
Underneath that shelf, I keep some old galvanized buckets and watering cans. Truth be told those are all leaking and more decorative than functional. Although I use the buckets to collect garden waste, they are still perfect trash cans.
I love her, I think my new side table aka garden work bench is exactly what I hoped her to be. I love DIY projects that find new uses for an old piece of furniture and make it all new again. Especially as they turn out to be quite easy DIY.
Of course, the people I know in real life will shake their heads and wonder why I didn’t just go out and buy a new one. But what is the fun in that….
This stage of my upcycled DIY potting bench could have been the final stage. It was working perfectly and functioning just fine.
Except for one thing. The old garden table had openings between the slats and every time I was potting up a garden plant or two I would end up with heaps of potting soil on the floor and on that lower shelf. It was downright disastrous when I was collecting seeds in fall to use for new flowers in spring.
So I decided to add a custom-made tabletop to my garden worktable, making it even more functional and adding an even more rustic vibe to my DIY potting bench.
I found a supplier of galvanized steel close by that not only sold sheets of galvanized metal but was willing to bend the sides and corners for free.
I ordered the galvanized top a tiny bit too small, and simply sanded off the sides of the table until we had a really good, tight fit. That way there was no need to attach it any further. That countertop is there to stay.
Now I am even more in love with my rustic garden table which has turned out to be the perfect planting table for my garden. It is such a functional workspace now. The metal is the perfect work surface for gardening projects.
I complimented my DIY potting table with an old coat rack that gives me plenty of room to hang things on the hooks. It kind of functions as an upper shelf and it allows me to display an accessory or two too.
Update: turns out that it is also the perfect spot for outdoor Christmas decorations.
Marianne Songbird is the founder of Songbird, where she hopes to inspire everyone to create a home they love, one DIY project at a time. She shares anything from craft ideas to home decor inspiration and from DIY projects to decorating hacks. Originally from the Netherlands Marianne and her husband Lex are currently renovating a 250-year-old farmhouse in Germany.