Are you the type of person that looks at things a little differently? Me too! One day my new bedroom set arrived on a large pallet. After the furniture was taken inside, the first thing that popped into my mind when looking at the leftover pallet was, “that pallet wants to become a ledge for plants on my back porch”. The porch has an expanse of windows that has great southern exposure. It’s perfect for getting outdoor plants started or just keeping them indoors to enjoy. I so badly wanted to bring some of the beauty of the outdoors inside this porch!
Plan, then cut.
So the first order of business was to figure out how to make the pallet slats span the entire length of the porch and decide which way they should run (parallel to the length or perpendicular). Since I really thought it would be cool to see the ends of the slats, I chose to have the slats run perpendicular and then I could also control how deep this ledge was going to be as I wouldn’t be restricted to the width of the slats.
Now that I had decided the slats should be perpendicular, I had to do some math and figure out what length to cut the slats so that I would be able to run the entire length of the porch wall. Cut them too long, and I won’t have enough to go the whole length. But they needed to be deep enough to create a ledge that would hold a variety of planter sizes. I also didn’t want to end up with a lot of waste. But I quickly figured out that if I cut the slats into about four equal pieces, not only would I have enough to run them the whole length but the depth would be sufficient for a variety of planters. And I’d use practically the whole pallet – zero waste!
With a plan of action, I got to work removing the slats from the pallet frame. This was a bit painstaking to pry up the nails and then pry up the slats one by one. Once I had them all detached from the frame, it was time to get out the chop saw for cutting.
Lots and lots of cuts.
Once I had the slats removed and all nails and staples removed it was time to cut! For this you could use a circular saw or a miter saw, I chose a miter saw to do the work because that would be the quickest way to get this done. And if you set a stop on your saw, then it’s even faster to repetitively cut the same lengths. Once I had them all cut I did a test fit, laying them down on the porch floor side by side to make sure I had enough and figure out what the spacing between the slats would be. The test fit proved I had done my math right, and ledge would go wall to wall and be a great depth for plants to rest on.
Alright, so now the tricky part: figuring out how to support this thing. There are a number of ways you could do this, and a lot depends on what you want to see, or not see, supporting the ledge. My back porch already had boards and battens under the windows which would be great to nail into. Also, I had some 8′ long 2×2 cedar left over from a furniture project that I could use to make these supports. So I started by nailing one of the 2×2 boards to the horizontal member under the window. I did a test fit to make sure I attach it at the right height. I didn’t want the slats, which would go on top of the 2×2, to sit above the window sill. But once I found the right height, the 2×2 was screwed onto the porch wall.
How to support the ledge.
Next I needed to cut more 2×2 boards into support angles. This was a bit tricky to get the cut the right length and mounted at just the right height so the ledge would be level. But once all those support angles were screwed in place, I was able to mount the other horizontal 2×2 “beams” on top of the angles and fasten the ends to the porch wall for stability. This was the most difficult part – trying to factor in the right height and getting it level. Many hands were helpful to hold pieces in place and mark where they should go. I think using some metal angles – screwed to the back wall and then to the angled piece would have made this easier… but that would have been an extra trip to the hardware store, so I made it work by just screwing the angled supports into the wall.
Then it was just a matter of laying out all the slats on top of the two 2×2 “beams” to get the spacing about the same between them all. Then just nail them on. For that I borrowed my husband’s handy nail gun and within minutes all those slats were fixed!
After that I used what was left of the pallet to nail an apron, or front piece, onto the front 2×2, just under the slats to conceal the supporting members a bit. And that’s it! You could seal it or stain it or paint it, but I like the look of it as is, rustic and unfinished. If it were to be exposed to the weather and not inside an enclosed porch, you’ll definitely want to seal the slats.
It’s been great for getting plants started from seed in the spring and letting shrubs acclimate to the weather before planting!