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raised garden bed

DIY Raised Garden Bed Using Pocket Screws

There are a lot of benefits for having a garden, especially an edible one. You get to control the chemicals you expose your food to, and thus restrict the amount of chemicals you consume. From the garden to the table–you cannot get any fresher (nor greener) than that.

I had some success in planting directly in the ground. What I find troublesome about that is the weeding required. The buggers grow everywhere. The solution is to isolate the plant… a garden bed, aka an oversized garden pot. I did some research and decided to take this on as my next DIY project.

There are a lot of raised garden bed build types. You can construct it from stone, brick, wood, or simply a mound of dirt. For my project, I decided to go with a wooden bed. I was dissuaded from using pressure treated wood because of the likely hood the chemicals can leach into the soil and onto the plant (there’s a lot of debate about that NOT being an issue today, but I’m going to err on the side of caution). Cedar and redwood were highly recommended for its longevity. Redwood won out because I can easily find it here in the Bay Area. It is expensive though.

For the build, I wanted to keep it simple. I’m lacking in wood working tools and some of the plans/designs would be difficult for me to execute. A very typical and simple design just uses the planks/boards that comprise the width and length of the garden bed and scrap pieces of wood or posts (usually a 4×4). The posts or scrap wood would be used in the corners as nailing anchors for the sides of the garden bed. I didn’t want to go this route because I didn’t want to buy extra wood just for nailing purposes. It just seems like a waste of wood and more importantly waste of money. My solution was to use pocket screws. I saw them being used on PBS woodworking shows. They used pocket screws to join pieces together in furniture and cabinets. I figured why not for this application? After finding out they make weather resistant pocket screws, I green lighted this option. I decided to go with the Kreg pocket hole system because that was used on the PBS shows and it’s readily available online (links below) and in big box stores.

I did more research on pocket screw joinery. Knowing the thickness of the material you’re using is very important. For optimal bite, the screw should leave the board (that has the hole bored out) at or near the midway point of that board (https://www.kregtool.com/store/c13/kreg-jigsreg/#tab1394). Therefore, positioning of the jig (device used to bore the pocket screw hole) is important. The thickness of the work material is also important in selecting the right screws to use. It needs to be long enough to bite into the connecting board. It is also important not to over torque the pocket screw. You don’t want to strip the wood threads. This is crucial info. I would hate to spend all the time and money to have the joint fail because I drilled the hole in the wrong position, stripped out the threads, or use the wrong size screw to connect the pieces together.

The material cost is approximately $65. The screws and plugs were relatively cheap. The large chunk is due to the wood choice: redwood. The cost can easily be reduced by using more common cheaper wood. The compromise is the longevity of the garden bed. A cheaper wood, like pine will rot faster.

The tool cost is hard to factor in. Yes, I did buy the Mini Kreg Jig, and the driver bit specifically for this project. However, its use is not only restricted for building raised garden beds. It’s a joinery system. I can use it to repair drawers, chairs, tables, etc. As with the bar clamps and combination square, it’s not a must have in the home DIY tool box, but there are multiple uses for those tools and therefore, it’s a safe buy.

Here’s the video I shot of the project and price breakdown (located below the video link):

Project tools & materials

Wood:
2x6x16 untreated redwood

  • I purchased two pieces
  • cut to four 4ft lengths
  • cut to four 2ft lengths
  • durable
  • common in California (where I’m from)
  • I paid approx $35 for both boards at Home Depot

Kreg:

Clamps:

  • Irwin Quick Grip ($20)
    • I used 2 clamps to lock the jig to the board when boring out the pocket holes and to lock the wood together when assembling the levels together
  • alternative: Kreg Locking Face Clamp ($20)
    • this type of clamp will lock the jig to the board better than the bar clamp

Combination Square

Soil:

  • top soil
    • 3 cu ft
    • $8.25 total
  • garden soil
    • 3 cu ft
    • $8.50 total
  • manure
    • 1 cu ft
    • $1.50