Build a Simple Window Box

Window box

I tend to be a big money, big project kind of girl. Jobs that I can crash into head-on, without a helmet. But little things? Like buying the impulse items at the grocery store check-out or fixing a nail hole? Those things give me heart palpitations. Buying just a $5 magazine is enough to put me into a full head-to-toe sweat because of the cost. But I’ll happily plunk down $1,000 on a big-ticket item. I’m not completely sure why I’m like this, but chances are it’s because I know how easy it is to waste money and how hard it is to save it.

Big-ticket items are the kinds of thing I save for, so I don’t feel all that bad buying them. But a package of Juicy Fruit® gum!? That’s, like, probably $1! Or more! I wouldn’t know because I’ve never in my life purchased a pack of gum on impulse. Why do that when you can just chew on grass, which is free?

Along the same lines, if you told me I had to paint my entire house over the weekend, I might roll my eyes but I’d get it done. If you told me I had to unload the dishwasher, I’d probably go completely stiff and pass out sideways. I’m very much like a fainting goat that way.

So, big things are great, little things are scary. This explains why I’ve had two rotting window boxes barely hanging onto the side of my house for four years. I just couldn’t bring myself to take them down and build two new ones. I understand that it seems like a big job to some of you, but it really isn’t. Building a window box is a ridiculously quick and easy job.

I finally broke down and completed this job because this spring, I grew all of the plants for the window boxes. And I didn’t want to risk all the work of growing the plants under grow lights only to have the planter boxes crash to the ground and kill them all in the middle of summer. That would definitely make me faint like a goat.

I built the planters in a couple of hours, and you can too.

Applying glue to the long edge of the board

Materials (makes two basic 3’ long window boxes)

Five 6’ long fence boards (spruce, pine or fir)
Bag of 2” screws
Outdoor wood glue


  1. Cut the 6' boards in half to end up with ten 3’ long pieces.

  2. Add wood glue to one long edge of two of the boards.

  3. Press the glue-covered edge of each of the two boards (these will be the front and back of the planter) onto the long edges of a third board (which is the base). You are forming the box now.
Pre-drilling the holes for the screws
  1. Drill three to four holes along each long edge for the screws – one at each corner and one or two in the middle. (You pre-drill so that the wood doesn't split when you insert the screws.)
The boards with the screws inserted
  1. Insert your screws into the pre-drilled holes.
Marking the cutline for the side board
  1. Because of the way you've built the box, the ends will be the exact width of a board. Take one of your 3' cut boards, hold it in position at the end of the window box (inside the box) and mark the top of your box on the board. This is the cutline for your side. Cut the board at the line. You need one for each end, so do this twice.

  2. Add glue to the sides and bottom of your small side boards and stick them in. And smile like a maniac because you've almost built a window box. Once the glue is partially set, pre-drill and screw the sides in place like you did earlier.
Drilling the drainage holes
  1. Drill drainage holes into the bottom. I used a 3/4 inch spade bit.

  2. Finish your window box however you like, using stain, paint or sealant.

I painted my boxes, which took more time than building them because I did a coat of primer, then three coats of paint (actually a paint-like stain).

A completed window box

They’re up and done, and all I can think is why did I put this off for so long? I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; putting things off and feeling guilty about it takes way more energy than just doing the job and getting it over with.

In fact I’m feeling so empowered by finally doing this little job I might need to reward myself a bit. Anyone want to split on a pack of Juicy Fruit gum?

Text and photos by Karen Bertelsen

Karen Bertelsen is a Gemini Award nominated television host who has appeared on some of Canada's major networks including HGTV, W Network, Slice and MuchMoreMusic. Five years ago she started the blog The Art of Doing Stuff ( as a creative outlet for her writing and endless home projects. The Art of Doing Stuff now receives over half a million views per month and has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Style at Home and Canadian Gardening magazines.

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