Make Yourself Useful
Make a garden ‘bollard’ driveway light out of pallet wood and a glass jar
Winter is almost upon us as I write this, and the temporary post I made to mark the edge of our driveway is in danger of getting run over one of these dark evenings. But with nothing in the store I liked the look of, I headed into the workshop to see what I could knock up out of stuff I already had kicking around; here’s what I came up with…
I love pallet wood (who doesn’t?!) and Norway is awash with reusable jam jars (called canning jars, Mason jars or Kilner jars in other places), that are attractive to my eye as well as being very tough. A match made in heaven methinks…
A couple of hours later and voila! That should stop anyone driving off the side of our short but awkwardly steep driveway on a dark snowy night!
If you fancy a go, here’s how I made this garden bollard light…
I used four pieces of wood taken from a USA standard pallet, a ‘Norge’ canning jar, and a disc cut from some scrap metal to hold the bulb holder. Oh, and some cable of course.
Materials all ready to go…
Make a rough full-sized sketch to see what size post you need to make. You should aim for a post that has just enough room to hold the jar, but not so small that the jar sticks out past the outside of the wooden post.
Draw a rough full scale sketch to see what size box you need to hold your jar.
Most pallet timber needs a little work for this kind of project, as it can be a little wavy on the edges. To form a nice fitting box without big gaps simply clamp the sides of the box together in pairs and hand plane one set of edges until they are nice and straight. Rip your wood down to size on a table saw making sure to run the newly planed edges against the fence. The wide sides are the same width as the diameter of the jar and the short sides are the the same as the wide ones, minus twice the woods thickness, giving you a square box, (this may vary depending upon the type of jar).
Planing the timber edges straight in pairs, helps stop wobbling.
Check the edges with a spirit level or other known straight edge and tidy up any high spots with your hand plane. This will make sure your post forms a neat ‘box’ and looks nice and solid. I used butt joints on the corners but you could mitre the edges if you want to really go for the solid wood look.
Plane away until there are no gaps!
Next is to form the slim corner posts. Use a handsaw for the cuts down the grain and a jig saw for the bottom cuts, or a jig saw for the whole thing if you can hold a straight line! Care is needed with these as the corner posts are quite fine and rough handling could easily break them. They become a little stronger once the top is fastened in place.
Be careful cutting these slim corner posts!
An alternative way to build this lamp was pointed out in the comments below and I thought it was a good idea and I’d probably do it this way next time…. instead of cutting the corner posts on two of the boards it was suggested to cut them one to a board, that way each board has just two easier straight cuts instead of the “U” shaped cut I did. Here is a very rough photoshop mock up of how it would look…
Each board will be the same width this way and there will be one joint on each side of the post.
And here is a pic sent in by Wim of his shorter lamp using this alternative method…
Cut a corner post into the end of each plank.
Either way, assemble the box and clamp it together so you can find out how the mason jar fits. I found that the screw on lid was jut a little too big to sit down into the box so I removed a little wood from the inside edge on mine using a table saw technique called ‘coving’ (google it!). This part will not be seen, so you can chew it out with a chisel if you prefer. Keep trial fitting your jar until it fits properly inside the box.
This allows the lid of the jar to sit inside the box.
Assemble again and check jar fits into inside of box.
Screw the box together using exterior grade screws. Decking screws are perfect for this, if a little long. Drill clearance holes in the wider pieces and pilot holes deep into the sides of the other before screwing together. This is because pallet timber can be quite hard and brittle, you don’t want to split anything at this stage…
Stop and re-drill pilot holes if the screws get too tight. Stop the screws flush.
Use silicone to keep the water out but provide ventilation to stop condensation.
To incorporate the bulb holder into the jars lid I cut a metal disc out of a piece of scrap using tin snips and drilled a hole in it to take the bulb holder.
I wired up the bulb holder and assembled it using silicone to keep any moisture out of the electrics. But don’t seal everything up tight or condensation will be a problem. I drilled some weep holes in the metal disc, between the plastic lamp holder and the jar retaining ring (once the silicone was dry). Occasionally condensation will form on the inside of the jar but the heat of the bulb soon dries it out.
How you do this may vary, depending on the style of your jar and what you have to hand to make the flat part of the lid, just don’t forget to get some air in there somehow!
To make a top for the post, place a square offcut of pallet wood on top of the four thin corner posts and center it up. Mark around each post not forgetting to mark the lid and inside the post to maintain the correct orientation. Drill a clearance hole through the centre of the marks you made and a deep and generously sized pilot hole down the centre of each corner post. Remember these posts are very thin and will easily split, the pilot hole should be large enough that the screw goes in very, very easily.
Mark all around each corner post, note the F marks to denote the ‘front’.
Now you can thread the cable through the post and slide the jar into place. Push the screws for the top through the clearance holes in the top and line each one up with the pilot hole in the corner posts, gently screw the top down. If a screw gets tight, remove it and drill bigger pilot holes.
To mount the post I used a piece of 70mm x 70mm timber screwed into the bottom of the bollard post, projecting 150mm and slotted this into a metal fence post holder.
Let me know how you got on with yours!
By Ian Anderson
p.s. The house number is one I carved into a lump of firewood a while back.
p.p.s POST UPDATE
I’ve been playing around with different LED light bulbs (since the bollard lamp is on all night….) to save energy, here is a couple I’ve tried from Simply LED a new supplier I’m trying…
So far, so good, the one that’s illuminated in the pic looks like a little Christmas tree! The other one is too bright I think, so that one will go into a tall lamp we have. Other wise of course you can get LED bulbs from amazon.
LED’s are certainly the way to go these days, I’m gradually changing all of our bulbs over and loving the clean light and look.
Solar Version of the Garden Bollard Lamp
After lots of comments about making a solar version of this garden lamp someone has finally made one! Akis Mavridis over on Pinterest posted a picture of it and how nice it looks too! Many thanks Akis!
DIY Pallet Garden; How to make Raised Wood Pallet Garden Bed
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Have you planted your garden yet? I have the best DIY garden project for you! A raised wood pallet garden bed! It is super easy to make. Took me less than a day to have a number of pallet garden beds ready for planting. And it really cuts down on weeding! Let me show you how!
Why a pallet Garden bed?
We’ve been renting our home for a few years now and I have struggled with my garden. See I’m one of those lucky people who has an amazing landlord who gives me pretty much free reign on projects in the yard. I can do what I want as long as it improves the house. So last year I made a garden. Well, it was the first year. And it also was being converted from a plot of grass. It was hard to get the grass to quit growing and allow the plants to grow. And then to top it all off, I got really sick with adenovirus and whooping cough that lasted a few months. The weeds and grass took over. This year I’m doing things differently. I’m aiming solely at weed control, and ease in gardening. So most of my gardening will be done in these super easy DIY Pallet garden plots.
Pallet Garden supplies
- Wooden pallets in good condition
- Weed/garden fabric
- Top soil
- Staple gun and staples
- plants for planting
For me the hardest part was simply finding the silly pallets! In our area they aren’t very common. The most ideal way is to get them brand new. But I couldn’t find any places in my area that offer them. So I went looking to recycle pallets for my garden. Many businesses I visited said, “oh we don’t sell or offer our pallets”. But I finally was able to find a few after about a month of searching. But once you find your pallets, the hard part is all but done! I highly recommend reading this great article on Pallet Gardening, that helps you know how to pick out the best pallets for your garden.
With your pallets at home and cleaned we can begin . Turn your pallets over. Then lay the garden fabric across the back. Measure enough to cover the entire back. As well as enough extra on all four sides to cover the ends and overlap at the top. Then trim the fabric from the roll.
Begin stapling the garden fabric to the backside of the wood pallet. I stapled the outer edges first, holding the fabric taut . Then I did additional staples on the main beams that go through the center. Once it is firmly secure, turn the pallet over.
We then begin folding the fabric up to the top of the pallet and stapling it to the top. This seals the pallet and prevents any of the dirt from leaking out of the sides. When you are done you should not have any open spots where dirt can escape except at the top.
Once you have all your pallet garden beds created, move them into place. You want them empty as you are moving them because once they are filled with dirt, they aren’t going anywhere. I ended up rearranging my pallet garden beds multiple times before I was happy with the layout. Once you have them where you want them, start filling them with top soil .
The smaller pallets took about 2 bags of 1 cubic-feet top soil. I used a mixture of Scotts Premium Top Soil and Miracle-Grow Garden Soil. The larger pallets took about double of the smaller pallets . Give or take a cubic foot of soil. That should give you a rough estimate of how much top soil you need. Of course you could just scoop up dirt from your current garden and fill your pallet. But like I said, I’m going for full weed control. Our garden dirt is overloaded with weed seeds and such. I want a fresh start of soil for my garden pallets without weeds already mixed in.
With the wood pallet garden beds filled, you can then start planting. I got a number of plants from our local plant nursery. Strawberries being my top priority!
Then I also planted peas, radishes, green onions, jalepenos and habenaro peppers and Red Bell peppers. Not all of them have sprouted yet, as some were planted from seeds. But give it a while and my pallet garden bed should be full of lush green foods to enjoy this summer!
Things you don’t want to plant in a pallet garden are those that require a deeper root system. This includes plants such as
- Regular onions
- Any vegetable that grows down and requires more than 3-4 inches of depth for growth.
Plants that are fantastic to grow in a garden pallet would be:
- Almost any herb
- Basically any plant that grows upwards and uses a shallow root base.
I planted our Tomatoes, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Rhubarb and Raspberries in the same garden plot, but outside of the pallet garden.
To top it all off I added cement flower pots at the edges. I followed the same outline. I layered the bottom of the cement blocks with the garden fabric. Then filled with dirt and planted Marigolds. These flowers are known for helping to keep bugs away from other plants. So I figured it was definitely worth a shot to try this year.
And now you are ready to enjoy your summer of minimal weeding and optimal vegetables! I can’t wait for harvest time! And soon I will be featuring Canning recipes for you as I put up and store our food that come from our garden!
Do you like the look of a Pallet garden?
What would you plant in your pallet Garden?
Questions? Feel free to ask any questions you have about the pallet garden! I will do my best to answer them all.
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Eating Around the Table Beginners Guide to Easy Homemade Family Dinners
Discover the ideas, recipes, and strategies to easy homemade family friendly dinners and how to create memories around the table.
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