Earlier this year, I was sitting at my desk staring at five adorable succulents. The varying sizes of the plants formed the shape of a little pyramid, and gave me the idea for today's project. Sadly, the original succulents which inspired this project died before I could complete it (I'm better at DIY than I am at keeping things alive), but I was able to find some new cuties, and hope they live a long and happy life in their new home.

I've been playing around with the idea of using glue and wood stain for stenciling, and this planter was the perfect project to experiment with this fun new method! The design on the front of the planter was actually inspired by the fabric I used for the bench cushion we made last spring. The bench cushion makes me think of the desert with its earthy yellows and grays. I also loved the patterns that reminded me of Native American prints. I wanted to mirror that pattern on the planter, since they would end up living in the same room. I loved the way the pattern, wood, and succulents fit right in together, and added to the feel I was going for.


Step 1. Cut wood to size with a chop saw

Begin with your chop saw, and a piece of fir. Cut two 12” pieces, two 2 ½” pieces, and one 10 ¾” piece.

Step 2. Jig Saw

Take the 12" pieces. Download and print the template below. Because you're going to be using this like a stencil later on, we recommend printing on card stock or a similar sturdy paper. Cut out the step pyramid shape at the top, and line up along the left side of the board. Trace the lines with a pencil to create a cutting guide (the template won't span the 12" of the wood because it's only 11" paper, but don't worry about this—just continue the line onto the wood with a pencil). Clamp the pieces down on a table or workbench, and then cut with a jig saw. Don't forget to wear eye protection.



Step 3. Sand

I feel like I say this often, but now it's time to sand. Sand the cut edges lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. It's important to avoid splinters and create smooth surfaces!


Step 4 Choice A. Burn in the pattern

Get out your diagram again, and cut the shapes with scissors. Next, cut out the triangles and squares inside of the designs with a utility knife. Now trace around the cutouts with a wood-burning tool. Fill in the outlined designs, and draw a border along the top and bottom edges.



Step 4 Choice B. Or stain in the pattern

First we're going to use glue to create designs that the stain won't stick to. Using the diagram as a guide, tape off everything except for the border. Mix equal parts water and wood glue. Brush this mixture onto the wood with a small paint brush, using the glue sparingly to keep a clean line. Allow to dry. This should only take 10-15 minutes because the glue is watered down.



Step 5. Cut out the template

Next, cut out the shapes in the diagram with a utility knife. Place the paper pattern over the front piece of the planter. Cut the inside triangles and squares out of painter's tape and place these pieces inside of the stencil. Brush with your new glue and water mixture and let dry.





Step 6. Stain

Once the glue has dried, remove the tape. According to the directions on the can, apply wood stain to all of the planter pieces. Allow the stain to sit for several minutes, and then use a rag to wipe off the stain and reveal your pattern.




Step 7. Glue together

Glue and clamp the planter together. Be sure to use waterproof wood glue. For added strength, pre-drill 1/16" holes and hammer in 3d finish nails.



Step 8. Enjoy

Apply a finish to the wood for a longer life and protection from moisture. I've heard that you can help the drainage by adding pebbles to the bottom of a planter before filling it with dirt, but I am still learning when it comes to plants. Fill the planter with succulents, and voila!