Tiered Outdoor Step Shelf

Showcase your plants with this tiered outdoor step shelf

Build this tiered outdoor step shelf to create a display of sun-loving and shade-tolerant plants as a focal point for your deck or garden. The back areas of the lower shelves are protected from the direct sun, and the upper shelves are excellent spaces for upright or cascading blooms.

What You'll Need


• mitre saw 1347-574

• measuring tape 1048-967

• drill

• #8 screw setter 1227-513

• sander 1262-334

• bench saw 1346-636

• level 1036-335/336

• carpenter's square 1070-060


• 1" x 6" cedar (rip to make supports and trays) 10' tray bottoms

• 9' tray sides, fronts & backs (rip)

• 6' back and side supports (rip)

• 2" x 4" cedar (16 feet)

• 1 1/2" deck screws 2182-083

• 3 1/2" deck screws (2) 2182-092

• 2" galvanized finishing nails 2134-835

• exterior wood glue 2020-041/042

• fine sandpaper 1233-196

• exterior wood finish/sealer


A side frame pieces - front - (2) 2 x 4 (see drawing)

B side frame pieces - back - (2) 2 x 4 (see drawing)

C lower side supports - (2) cut from 1 x 6 cedar (see drawing)

D horizontal supports - (3) 2 1/2" x 23" cut from 1 x 6 cedar

E tray backs & fronts - (6) 2 1/2" x 20" cut from 1 x 6 cedar

F tray sides - (6) 2 1/2" x 14" cut from 1 x 6 cedar

G tray bottoms - (6) 5 1/2" x 18 1/2" cut from 1 x 6 cedar

Here's How

TIP: Use 2" galvanized finishing nails and

1 1/2" deck screws to protect the cedar finish from rust stains. Pre-drill all screw locations with a screw setter bit and use exterior wood glue on all connecting surfaces.

1. Refer to the diagram, and cut the side frame pieces to size. Build the two sides, securing the lower side supports with screws and wood glue. A 3 1/2" deck screw is used where the two legs meet.

2. Install the three horizontal supports to complete the outside frame. TIP: Temporarily fastening these three pieces can help provide a perfect fit for the installation of the trays.

3. The three trays are identical in size. Cut the pieces for the trays and assemble them, checking for square, using glue and nails at the butt corners. Install the two bottom pieces in each tray using glue and nails.

4. Fasten the trays inside the exterior frame using glue and screws. Use a level to ensure each tray is horizontal. If you temporarily fastened the back supports of the frame, adjust if necessary, and use glue and screws to secure them at this time.

5. Set the nails, sand all surfaces, and apply an exterior finish to all surfaces.

Fill the nail and screw holes following the first application of wood finish.

Download the instructions.


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