For most of us, the garden season is over and it’s time to think about what to incorporate for next year. One thing we decided to do was get some raised beds for better peppers and herbs – two things that benefit from the warmer soil a raised bed offers.
In this article, we’ll show you how we made raised beds based on ideas we got from Instagram.
Now, you could stop reading this, go to the hardware store and purchase a kit. The problem, however, is they can be pricey, lower quality and not that big. If you make your own, you have more control over the strength and size.
For material selection, we didn’t want to use treated lumber because it doesn’t jive with organic growing. While it’ll last many years, the chemicals forced into the wood is kind of gross to be growing food in. Therefore, we chose cedar planks which are known for lasting a long time when exposed to the elements. More specifically, we chose rough sawn cedar. Like the name implies, it’s rough and not finished (thankfully, we had a Makita belt sander that made this task very easy). Another oddity was it wasn’t uniform in size – but, we found a way to overcome this problem which we’ll discuss later.
Although it had some quirks, there were two advantages. First, it was about a dollar cheaper per board compared to regular cedar; and second, it was about a quarter inch thicker meaning it was around 1 3/4” thick compared to 1 1/2”.
So, we purchased 2×6 planks that were 8 feet long and planned on making three raised beds with each bed being two planks high.
For the dimensions, we went with 61 inches long by 34 inches wide. Keep in mind this is just an example of what could be built. If you’re building your own, you can pick the dimension that suits your needs.
Since an 8 foot board is 96 inches, choosing the dimensions I did gave me a few inches in the event I made a mistake. Plus, I needed some extra pieces to practice how I was going to secure everything because I never worked with this type of wood before.
The first step was to cut a very small section off each end of the plank in order to square it. I noticed the ends weren’t square which would have really messed up the project when it came time for assembly, so I’m glad I caught this deficiency in the beginning.
Next, I paired up two boards that were even in width using a speed square as an impromptu guide. Why did I do this? As mentioned before, the boards weren’t uniform size. Each level of the raised bed required two boards (2 long and 2 short). By having two boards for each layer that were even in size, it allowed both layers to more evenly come together.
Once we had a matching pair, we used a Makita 3×21 belt sander which is a super star for smoothing out lumber. Since we have small kids with little hands that want to touch EVERYTHING we wanted to reduce the potential for splinters.
Once the wood was prepped, we made the bottom layer by cutting 2x 61″ boards and 2x 30 1/2” boards.
After the first layer was cut, we then found two boards of equal width for the top layer and prepped them just like we did with the first layer (squaring the ends and thoroughly sanding it).
For this layer, we cut 2x 57 1/2″ boards and 2x 34″ boards. We also cut some 4×4 posts for each corner. This was to increase rigidity as well as assist with squaring up the corners.
After everything was cut according to size for all three raised beds, I used a sanding block to smooth out each end before applying some pure raw linseed oil.
In regards to the linseed oil, we did a ton of research to see if this was a good alternative to using a stain. Of course, you can’t trust everything on the internet but by what we found, pure raw linseed oil is recommended when natural applications are desired whereas boiled linseed oil has additional chemicals added. I figured the pure raw linseed oil combined with the extra 1/4” thickness in each board will hopefully give me 10+ years out of these beds – but only time will tell.
After letting the oil dry, it was time for assembly. There are a ton of ways a person could assemble these but all we did was secure the top layer to the 4×4 posts, flip it over and then assemble the bottom layer.
We used a combination of decking screws and galvanized nails on each corner to increase strength. Before installing the hardware, though, we used a countersink and also drilled a pilot hole for each screw and nail. Since cedar splits easily, this was an important step.
Lastly, we installed some stainless steel plates and smaller nails into both the short and long sides in order to better secure the top and bottom boards.
Like any project, this is just one way to make a raised bed. Overall, we’re super happy how it turned out. All we have left to do is put them in the ground and add some organic soil.
We’re definitely looking forward to having some awesome peppers and herbs.
Check out some of the products we used to make this project:
3M Sanding Block:
Stanley FatMax 25′ Tape Measure:
Makita 3×21 Inch 8.8 Amp Belt Sander:
Swanson 7 Inch Speed Square:
Milwaukee 12-Inch Sliding Dual Bevel Miter Saw:
Irwin Carpenter Pencils:Disclaimer