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April 6, 2010

Finally, the file-cabinet-turned-planter project is complete! Here’s the full story.

I consider myself crafty. I can whip up a quick sign with pretty lettering or a handmade birthday card. I’ve conquered scrapbooks, knitting,  calligraphy and chore sticks. I’ve dabbled a bit with painting and assembling furniture, framing and hanging pictures, and doing some interior design. I’ve also done yard work, weeding and a little gardening. There have been rough moments, but I’ve made it through.

I met my match this past weekend though. I wasn’t going to reveal this about the planter project, but halfway through, I wanted to quit, big time.

It started innocently enough. I found this old filing cabinet while going through Maw Maw’s stuff back in August. I had seen this guy’s wonderful use of something old and thought: I too can do this.

So, I put up this post on my blog, knowing it would challenge me to actually DO IT, since I would feel lame telling all of you about it and then bailing out.

But, that was the end of August. Work got busy, and then when it subsided, it was cold outside. Why should I work on a planter in December?

Also, I still wanted to do it, but I didn’t quite know how it would all work. I did know I needed some drainage and at least had the forethought to ask my dad to bring a drill from home when he came up at Christmas. Between opening presents and having yummy food, Daddy drilled eight holes in the bottom of the metal cabinet (step one).  

Step two included finding the right parts. I bought two pieces of wood that I hoped to slide in on the open side (minus the drawers), fuse to the metal, and act as a barrier. I also needed a few blocks to act as legs for the water to drain out of the bottom of the planter. (Recognize that blue paint? In the fall, the file cabinet served as saw horse to hold this project.)

Next, step three, I got to painting. I chose gold (I’m on a metallic kick these days… not sure why) and spray painted the whole cabinet after I adhered the wooden boards to the inside of the cabinet.

For step four, I positioned the cabinet where I wanted it to be permanently on our patio, added a layer of rocks about 60% of the way in, and started adding soil.

Ok, this is where it got really defeating. (So much so that I didn’t take pictures.) I began pressing the soil down to pack it in, and the weight of the rock and soil was too much for my fused boards, so they broke open, leaking out soil. Here’s my step-by-step drawing of my sad terror of step five:

(ie: After some tears, I had to take out all the rocks — three large bags — and soil, and then glue a reinforcement board on the two side panels. I let them dry overnight, slipped the board in on the side, and finished the project. Why, you ask, didn’t I just get one large board for the side, rather than two? Well, I didn’t think the two would shimmy in to fit inside the cabinet. And, they don’t really when they are glued together with the reinforcement board…. but I made them work.)

Step six: repeat step four, minus the catastrophe of your planter falling apart. Add plants, seeds and fertilizer. (I plan to add more plants when all threats of freeze/frost are gone… perhaps in a few more weeks. The plants I intend to grow there — zinnias — need warm soil, and I don’t want to risk losing them.)

Step seven is to bask in the glory of your lovely planter. (Don’t you love that we went from tears to glory within two steps?) Also, section b of step seven, ask yourself: is this worth it?

I mean, it’s kind of cool-looking, and I love that I used something for a different purpose when it would have just gone in a landfill somewhere. And, honestly, now that I know what I need to do to create another one, it will be less work (theoretically). So, yes, I would do it again.

Here’s what it cost, approximately:

Budget Breakdown

  • file Cabinet: Free
  • drilled holes: Free (if you have a daddy who will bring his drill to you when he visits at Christmas!)
  • two cans of spray paint: $7
  • wood glue/adhesive: $3
  • wood blocks and plates: $5
  • 3 bags of generic rocks from Lowe’s: $10
  • 3 bags of soil: $10
  • plants to fill: varies/$10 (This really depends what you want. I added the little potted ones just to make it pretty when I finished it, but I intend to use plant seeds which are only a few bucks a piece at Target or your grocery store.)

Approximate Grand Total: $45

Not bad! A few more things to keep in mind:

~A filing cabinet is made of metal (duh) and is going to rust. Even though I used rustoleum spray paint, rust spreads. I anticipate having this filing cabinet for only a few years, max.

~A filing cabinet is made of metal and is going to get warm in the sun. I guess this is why I chose a metallic color to deflect some of the sun, rather than something dark that will soak in the heat. I say all of this as if I know that this won’t be a problem, but I have no idea.

~I decided to use the drawers as recycling containers. They are currently sitting in our garage, decorated, holding glass and plastic, ready to be used as my permanent recycling containers. They even have handles for easy delivery!

~I hope you see this DIY project as an experiment, rather than a tried-and-true tutorial. I will keep you posted throughout the summer to let you know if the planter was overall a success. Right now, I’m just hoping it works out.

 Now, on to the next project…..

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2010 11:17 am

    that looks awesome! way to go :)

  2. MamaStu permalink
    April 6, 2010 6:43 pm

    Impressive, Kate. I love the look. I hope you have it for a good while.

  3. April 12, 2010 8:17 am

    hot hot hot! looks great. i need to reload mine after the winter killed off my sexy succulents. file cabinet planter makers unite!


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