How to Build a Raised Bed Box (alternate method)

This article will describe an alternate method to building a standard Citizen Gardener raised bed box.  The advantage to this method over the standard design is that it uses slightly less wood, wastes less wood, and is slightly simplified.  The disadvantage is the inside diameter of the box is a little less than a full 4′ across, so you can’t get a full 4 ‘squares’ across.

The reason we used this method for one of the classes was that we used cedar wood instead of standard white wood, and couldn’t get the cedar in the 10′ sizes we needed.  It worked out fine, so I wanted to provide this write-up so everyone can see another possible way to build boxes when making their raised beds for backyard vegetable gardening.

Materials (rough-cut cedar lumber)

  • QTY 2: 2 x 8 – 8′  (2 x 10 – 8′ would be more preferable because it gives more soil depth)
  • QTY 1: 2 x 3 – 8′ (2 x 2 – 8′ is also OK)
  • QTY 28: 3″ deck screws (1 lb box is enough)
  • Outdoor wood glue (waterproof)

Cut Lumber

  • Cut both of the 2×8-8′ in half so you have 4 48″ pieces
  • Cut out 4 7″ pieces out of the 2×3-8 (cut to 9″ if using 2 x 10 lumber)
Mark the location near one edge of each board where the 2×3 will be attached.  This should be at 1-3/4″ if using rough-cut lumber or at 1-1/2″ if using standard lumber.  (but measure the thickness of your lumber to make sure)
measure and mark location of 2x3

Measure and Mark the Location of the 2×3 Near an Edge of the Board

Using waterproof outdoor wood glue, attach the small end of the 2 x 3 piece at the measurement you just made, and clamp to hold temporarily.

2 Glue 2x3 on to 2x8

Glue the 2×3 piece to the 2×8 as shown

Flip the board over, drill pilot holes to prevent wood from splitting, and then screw in 2 or 3 deck screws from the outside face of the board.

Flip board over and Screw 2x3 in place with deck screws

Flip board over and Screw 2×3 in place with deck screws

All 4 boards are built the same way, the picture below shows 8 boards, enough for 2 beds.

Bed sides ready for assembly

Eight bed sides ready for assembly

Lay the four sides down on a flat, hard surface to assemble.  Glue the joints where the wood touches, drill pilot holes, and use deck screws to attach all the corners.  Be sure the sides are even and the joints are tight before screwing the screws in.  (it is often necessary to remove all the screws and retighten)  The glue should ooze out of the joint when it is tight.

Finished bed ready to be placed, leveled, and filled with soil

Finished bed ready to be placed, leveled, and filled with soil


About Brian Gallimore

Brian is a backyard vegetable gardener and aquaponics enthusiast. He also moonlights as a permaculture designer, maintains the online community, and sponsors the Citizen Gardener program in the DFW area.
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11 Responses to How to Build a Raised Bed Box (alternate method)

  1. Pingback: How to Build a Citizen Gardener Raised Bed | North Texas Vegetable Gardeners Blog

  2. Farmer Nate says:

    A lot of people use only untreated wood when building raised beds. We know that treated wood will leech chemicals into soil; do you think that wood glue could leech in a similar manner? Do you think there would there be any potential drawbacks to following these plans without using the wood glue?

    • Nate, I don’t think the wood glue would be a problem, especially after it has dried. This is just my unqualified opinion though. I quick search of the Internet didn’t turn anything up, and I’ve never heard of glue concerns.

      Attaching the corners without using glue will work, but I believe the sides would start to pull apart earlier. The reason I think this is that the wood is expanding and contracting with moisture and temperature, always working itself loose. (but wooden fences can last a long time…. so maybe the glue is not needed)

  3. Newbie Dawn says:

    I made my first 2 beds following these instructions with the cedar. They turned out great and I’m ready to plant!

  4. Les says:

    Have you ever used cedar decking boards instead of 2-by stock cedar for building raised planters? Thought these could work with a few more supports added along the length of the box and would cut the cost down. I am a newbie building my first raised bed container for vegetables.

  5. Tommy says:

    Brian, Some information I’ve read states there is no reason for concern when using borate or pressure treated lumber to build raised gardens. Can you provide your personal thoughts or do you know of any significant data that shows it to not harm the plants or any vegetables grown in those beds?
    Thx Tommy

  6. Marion Reid says:

    CCA wood preservative hasn’t been used since 2003, and the alternative alternative ACQ contains copper and CCD. Copper is not toxic in the amounts used in the preservive (copper poisoning is very rare, usually involving cases where someone drinks Copper Nitrate or Copper Sulfate). Copper is naturally present in shrimp, avocados, beef liver, nuts…

    The other component isn’t particularly toxic to humans. First it’s very poorly absorbed by the gut. In dose-dependent toxicity studies, the only effect was a small loss in body mass in a life-time feeding study at over 83 mg/kg/day. So… IMHO, growing your own food in beds made of typical AQC-treated landscape timbers is probably safer than the veggies you buy at the grocery store that have been treated with pesticides/herbicides. If you’re still concerned, you can always line the beds with plastic sheeting to keep the soil from contacting the timbers :-)

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