Garden Woodwork

Most of my woodwork is destined for indoors use, and I prefer to concentrate on quality rather than quantity, although inevitably there are times when I make for the garden. How I approach outdoor furniture, structures, and features, is the subject of this article.
The most recent project I built for the garden was a horizontal planter. The design follows a number of other items I've built, and relies heavily on the hard horizontal lines and contrasting colours. Structurally it is very simple, and just strong enough for it's intended purpose. Construction is simplified by using multiple copies of a few basic parts, stacked together and attached at the corners with simple screwed corner blocks. The planter's job is to hold potted plants and be a visible contrast to the plants, not to be a showcase of beautiful wood figure and pleasing to touch (as with furniture for example).

Additionally, the construction makes it easy for the woodworking beginner to tackle, which I like to throw in regularly on my YouTube channel.

There's no need for measured drawings, and tool requirements are minimal too. The result is a unique and cheap item, that will last several years if treated with an outdoor finish. Contrast that with my indoor items, which too are unique, but which will last generations and whose price reflects the time and skills that go into it.
The video build of this planter can be found here.

Similarly, the trellis screen with gateway that I have just repaired, was made using common parts, butt joints, and very simple techniques. It looked great and did it's job for well over a decade, but a consequence of the simple construction was that it required maintenance.

As a garden structure, the ravages of the environment had taken their toll. Some rot had occurred at the ground level of a post, while some steel screws, despite being enclosed under sealed plugs, had rusted through. The job of repairing the damage had to be in keeping with it's original construction; that is to say, simple, quick, and effective (measured by it's ability to survive another decade or more).

The rotted post was cut off above the rot and reinstalled.
This left it considerably short, but a short length of post material (quite possibly left over from the original build) was added to the top, using a large hardwood dowel.
This still left the post a few inches shorter than the opposite gate post, which was cut down to match.
The horizontals across the top of the gateway, which were now all loose due to their fixing screws rusting, were reattached using the original method, except using zinc coated screws which should last a little longer.

Removing the rusted and broken off screws from their recessed sockets was eased by using an inverted Philips head screw as a captive punch.

Although I was lucky that the post socket bolt wasn't seized, I could have tried WD40, shock, or heat, to loosen it up, or a destructive method if all else failed (these are covered in the video).

The regular maintenance schedule, which had lapsed for a while, of painting all the wooden components with a preservative, was carried out immediately after the repairs, and the whole screen is now looking as good as new.

You can watch the screen repairs here.

As with all gardens, there are still things to do.

 A lesson I have learnt over the years is to keep outdoor projects simple, and build to the required lifespan.
Often fashions change, and when items wear out you can replace them with something more current.
If the item is a classic, then building it simply will make maintenance and repair easier when it's required.

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