You can never have enough storage space, and some storage space can also double as a bench, seat, or even a planter box. Maybe you’re looking for a storage solution for all of your yard toys or pool equipment, or you need something for your excess garden tools. A plastic deck box may not cut it because it’s not feasible to keep all of your wet items in there until they dry, or you may leave the lid open.
If you’re a handy person, you can build your own DIY deck storage box that will look great and be very sturdy. It has a slatted design to it that is great if you plan on using it for things like pool storage or on the deck because it allows for air to circulate and dry everything out.
Deck boxes can be used to store a huge range of items from pool equipment to excess garden tools or supplies to kid toys.
- Circular saw or table saw
- 1¼-inch exterior wood screws
- 2 – 2×2 x 8-foot treated pine
- 2 – 3/4″ x 4′ x 8′ sheets treated plywood
- 2-inch exterior wood screws
- 2×4 x 10-foot treated pine
- 3-inch exterior wood screws
- 3 Tee hinges
- 70 linear feet of 1×6 lumber
- Construction adhesive
- Exterior latex paint and primer
- Lid Support Hinge
- Money and Materials
- Wood glue
This outdoor storage bench typically uses treated plywood, and this stands up to the elements. It’s often slightly damp, so you really want to let it dry in your shed for a week or two before you cut it. Store it flat to minimize warping as it dries. Also, know that any warped wood is dangerous to cut using a table saw, and you’re much better off using a circular saw with a cutting guide when you work with warped wood.
For the exterior, you may want to consider adding thermally modified wood (TMW), but this will significantly bring the cost of the DIY deck box up. If you choose to use cedar, this will bring it almost half the cost at $300. The least expensive option you have is construction-grade pine, and this is roughly $100 for the project.
Thermally Modified Wood
Thermally modified poplar is a great choice for this DIY deck box. Normally, poplar isn’t a great choice for any project that is going to be exposed to the elements, but thermal modification changes this. Essentially, thermally modified wood has been cooked to remove the organic compounds. This chemical-free process makes the wood look more stable while being more resistant to insects and decay.
This process will naturally darken the wood. If you leave it unfinished, it’ll weather to a gray color like any other wood. The price will vary, and you may have to look online or at your local woodyard to find it to get the best price.
|1½” X 1½” X 16¼”
|¾” x 17½” x 18” treated plywood
|¾” x 17½” x 56” treated plywood
|¾” x 2” x 24” treated plywood
|¾” x 2” x 15” treated plywood
|¾” x 54½” x 18” treated plywood
|1½” x 1½” x 18”
|¾” x 22” x 58¼” treated plywood
|1½” x 3½” x 18”
|1½” x 3½” x 13”
|¾” x 5½” x 19½” thermally modified
|¾” x 5½” x 57½” thermally modified
|1½” x 3½” x 17½”
|¾” x 5½” x 60” thermally modified
DIY Deck Box – Step-by-Step
Once you get everything cut out and ready to go, it’s time to start your DIY deck box project. This shouldn’t take more than a few hours from start to finish, even for a brand new DIYer.
Step One – Assemble Your Sides
Attach your corner posts (A) flush with the long tops and edges of the box ends (B). Screw and glue the sides (C) and ends together. You want to ensure that you have a waterproof glue handy for this project.
Step Two – Install the Bottom
Screw and glue the bottom cleats you cut out (D and E) around the inside of your DIY deck box body. Apply glue to the underside of the cleats and wait an hour or so for it to start setting up. Then, you’ll drop the bottom part (F) into place and use screws to fasten in. Screw and glue the feet (G) onto the bottom of the DIY deck box.
Step Three – Cut a Dip Groove
Cut a kerf all the way around part H or the lid’s underside so that the rainwater will run off the lid instead of clinging to the edge and ending up falling into the box. Apply an exterior latex to the outer faces and visible edges of the box and lid at this point. You’ll give it a few hours to dry before moving on.
Step Four – Install the Frame
Next, fasten the center frame (I and J) inside of the box using screws and your wood glue. This is the part of the frame that gives your DIY deck box the rigidity it needs while helping flatten out any warped plywood.
Step Five – Attach the first Slat
Next, attach the bottom slat (K) flush with the bottom edge of your DIY deck box using exterior construction adhesive and then drive screws from inside the box. Apply a bead of exterior caulk along the top edge of the slat so that water won’t be able to seep in when it rains.
Step Six – Attach Remaining Slats
Fasten the end slats you have left, using spacers to keep them even and caulking the top edges as you work. Attach your side slats (L) using the same method. Remember that these shorter screws won’t have a lot of pulling power, so you need to maximize what they do have by pre-drilling and countersinking clearance holes through your plywood before you drive the screws in.
Step Seven – Attach the Lid Battens
Now it’s time to attach the lid battens, and you do so by tacking the lid battens (M) to the underside of your DIY deck box lid using screws and glue. Flip the lid right side up and secure the battens using longer screws. The battens will help the lid stay flat.
Step Eight – Assemble the Lid
Clamp your lid slats (N) together, and put ½-inch spacers between each pair of slats. Apply your construction adhesive to these slats, and then center your lid on them. Drive your screws through the lid and into your slats. You want to pre-drill the holes to ensure the screws get maximum pulling power here too.
Step Nine – Install the Hinges
Next, it’s time to attach the hinges to the lid, and you want to center the barrels of the hinges ½-inch from the edge of the lid. Then, prop your lid in a position near the box edge and mark the hinge mortise locations on the top slat. Remember that the mortise depths are equal to the hinge barrel’s diameter.
Step Ten – Install Lid Stays
You may want to put pneumatic props on your DIY deck box to hold the lid open and add a little assistance when you go to open it. You can easily substitute less expensive lid supports if you like. Finish your DIY deck box by applying an exterior finish of your choice, and an exterior penetrating oil stain is great.
It’s very important that you make accurate cuts when you get to this step of creating a DIY deck box because this dictates how well it’ll fit together when it comes time to assemble it.
DIY Louvered Deck Box – Step-by-Step
This DIY deck box will allow you to create a very stylish outdoor slatted deck box for your toy or garden tool storage. Creating this louvered look may seem complicated at first glance, but it’s actually as simple as tilting the slats as you assemble it. Even better, the whole assembly process requires very little, and you’ll need a drill, saw and a Kreg Jig.
- Kreg Jig
- Kreg Jig Right Angle Clamp
- Miter Saw
- 1 – 1 x 2 x 8 foot board (Cleats)
- 1 ¼ inch Kreg Jig Pocket Hole Screws
- 1 ¼ inch Wood Screws to attach the Cleats
- 21 – 1 x 3 x 8 foot boards (Slats, rails, and floor boards)
- 3 Hinges
- 4 – 2 x 2 x 3 foot balusters (Legs and the divider)
- Lid support hinge
- Wood glue
|Quantity and Size
|2 x 2 legs
|4 at 20 inches
|2 x 2 stiles
|2 cut to size
|1 x 3 rails
|6 at 45½ inches
|Front and back
|1 x 3 rails
|8 at 16¼ inches
|1 x 3 slats
|20 at 22 inches
|Front and back
|1 x 3 slats
|10 at 16¼ inches
|1 x 2 cleats
|2 at 45 ½ inches
|1 x 3 boards
|18 at 17 ¾ inches
|1 x 3 lid
|2 at 50 inches
|Lid front and back
|1 x 3 lid
|2 at 15 inches
|1x 3 lid
|6 at 45 inches
1. Cut the Parts
Take the cut list we outlined above in the table and cut the 2 x 2 legs and the 1 x 3 boards to the correct length.
2. Prep the Slats
Next, get your Kreg Jig and drill two pocket holes in the ends of each of the slats and rails you cut .
3. Position the First Slat
Mark a line that is ½-inch from the face of the front/right leg. Make a second mark on the wood roughly 2 ½ inches from the top edge of the board. Now, you’ll position the end of a 22-inch long slat on the leg, so that the top edge rests on the crosshair of the two lines you drew. The bottom edge should tilt forward flush with the front edge of the leg.
4. Attach the First Slat
Get your Kreg Right Angle Clamp and use it to secure the slat into place along the leg. Get your drill or driver and drive a 1 ½-inch pocket-hole screw through the holes in the slats and into the leg.
5. Keep Attaching the Slats
Next for this DIY deck box, put your next slat below the first, making sure you angle it the same way. Place the clamp in your pocket hole to hold the slat into place. Secure your slat with screws, and secure the three additional slats, for a total of five tilted slats. Repeat this process to put the left side of the front of your DIY deck box together.
6. Measure and Cut Out the Divider
Once all of the slats are in place, you’ll put a 2 x 2 against the unattached ends of the 1 x 3s. Mark the top and bottom of the panel on the 2 x 2 divider before cutting it to the correct length.
7. Attach the Divider
Mark the ½ inch recess line on your divider. Clamp a set of slats against it and secure it into place using pocket-hole screws.
8. Assemble the Panels
Lay your newly assembled slatted panels face down on your bench in your shop or garage. Clamp the divider to the work surface and drive pocket-hole screws through the slats in the unattached panel to secure it to the divider in the middle of them.
9. Prep the Rails
Next, dry fit the doubled-up upper rail and the lower rail between the legs of your DIY deck box. Mark the location of your divider on each rail. You’ll then drill pocket holes through the thickness of each board so that the screws will run through the rails and into the divider’s ends.
10. Install the Rails
Now it’s time to install the rails, and you start by positioning the face of the top rail so it’s flush with the top edge and face of the leg. Secure the rail to each leg using the pocket-hole screws. You’ll drive screws through the rail and into the divider to secure it.
11. Double-up the Top Rail
To get a slightly thicker top edge on your DIY deck box when it’s open, apply a bead of wood glue to your installed rail and lay a second rail against it. Attach the rail to both of the legs and to the divider. Lastly, you’ll install the bottom rail against the underside of the lowest slats and flush with the leg face.
Doubling up the top rail can help lock moisture out, and this is especially important if you don’t plan on going into your DIY deck box a lot so it doesn’t mold.
12. Add the Cleat
Apply glue to the backside of the 1 x 2 cleat before you position it in place on the bottom of your DIY deck box’s rail. Place a spacer between the bottom of the slat and the cleat as this spacing is what will allow the floor slats to sit on the cleats below the divider and slats. Next, drive 1 ¼-inch wood screws through the cleat and into the rail to hold the cleat into place.
13. Add the Side Rails and Slats
Attach your box’s side rails and slats to the legs using 1 ¼-inch pocket screws. You want to make sure that you keep the bottom and top rails flush with the leg’s face and tilt the five slats between them. On the slats where you can’t reach with a clamp, you’ll clamp the leg to the table and firmly hold the slat in place while you secure it.
14. Assemble and add the Back Panels
Following the steps we outlined in 2 to 14, create the back of the box. You want to mark a ½ inch recess on the backside of each leg and set your assembled front wall and sides onto the back.
15. Attach the Sides to the Back
One at a time, adjust your slats using the lines on the legs as a guide. When you have them in position, you’ll screw them into place.
16. Double the Side Rails
Apply glue to the inside of the top and bottom side rails at this point. Place a second rail against each board and screw it to the legs using your pocket screws to keep it much sturdier and seal the rain out.
17. Insert the Floorboards
Once you have the walls in place, put the floorboards into the assembled box. Rest the ends of each floorboard on the 1 x 2 cleats. Next, angle the board and then twist it tightly into place. Once you finish, the wood slats should sit very tightly together with little gaps.
18. Lay Out Your Lid Pieces
On a flat working surface, lay out your lid pieces. Find the perpendicular boards and look at the end grain of each board. The goal is to try and alternate the direction that the moon-shape of the grain goes, or the direction that the boards cup.
19. Assemble the First Pieces
Start by drilling pocket holes in the ends of the interior boards and end boards. Drill additional pocket holes along the interior joints, making sure to space them 8 to 10 inches apart. Put glue on the end of each side board and then screw and clamp them to the front board.
20. Assemble the Lid Boards
Keep attaching your interior boards using wood glue, clamps, and 1 ¼-inch pocket-hole screws. When you finish the lid, flip the whole thing over and sand the surface until it’s smooth.
21. Attach the Lid
Finally, using a driver or drill, add the three inches to the underside of the lid and to the top edge of the back of your DIY deck box. If you want, you can add additional lid support hinges at this time.
DIY Deck Box for Seed Packets or Garden Tools
The final DIY deck box we have on the list is a very small one that is suitable for seed packets or smaller garden tools. You won’t need much to create them, including:
- 1/4″ earth magnets
- Drill press
- Miter saw or table saw
Step 1: Planning
It should go without having to say that you’re going to work in fairly tight tolerances with this DIY deck box. The seed packets are 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches, and you want to add ⅛-inch just to be safe. Each piece of wood you use will be no more than ¼-inch thick. Everything also needs to be square to pull this DIY deck box off, and the hinge has to get drilled right into the box or it won’t work correctly.
To get your measurements, work your way out from the size of the seed packets, adding the measurements as needed until you reach the proper size. In order to fit everything correctly, we’ll start with the outer case first, and once we have it put together, we’ll add an inner case to fit.
How much wood you use for this DIY deck box will depend on how large your seed packets are and how many you want to store.
Step 2: Outer Case – Mitered
The mitered case has a simple overall design to it, but you’ll have to put it through some complicated trimming before you can assemble it. Start by resawing the four sides you cut down to the final thickness you want and trim them to your required size. Since the top will extend farther down the front than in the back, you’ll need to account for it and only miter the top of each side.
Make a 30° line in the center and use a square router bit to reduce the thickness on the bottom from ½-inch to ¼-inch, making room for the inner case. Follow this step by adding the lines to mark the location of the lid and floor. The mitered sides can be made by machine, but the lower sides have to be cleaned out using a chisel. Once you complete the sides of your DIY deck box, you can cut a smaller compartment floor and trim it to fit the notch you made earlier.
You can now drill the hole to create the pivot. You can use a ⅛-inch brass rod, but this is completely up to you. Once you get all of the sides fit neatly together, glue it.
Step 3: Outer Case – Dovetailed
Maybe you’d prefer to have a dovetailed version of the outer case instead of a mitered one. If so, you’ll start the DIY deck box project with ¼-inch material and build it up to get the size you want. Also, if you use a type of wood with a prominent grain like walnut, you want to keep the grain continuous around the outside of the box.
Start by cutting your sides down to the correct size, and then mark the place inside to create a smaller storage compartment. You can use a similar contrasting wood for this compartment if you like, and then you’ll glue each one in place. Make sure your compartment is placed square so that the floor sits flat once you glue it into place later.
Set your dovetail machine to perform through dovetails and cut a pair of pins/tails for the middle of your box’s upper section. A Leigh jig will make this process fairly easy, but a normal jig will also work as long as you realize you’ll have to remove the outer material by hand.
The complicated part of this process is that you need to set up and cut the top tails/pins to account for the additional thickness your smaller compartment brings, and then you have to adjust your machine depth to finish the joint in the lower section.
Step 4: Inner Case – Dovetailed (Optional)
The inner cases are an optional step, and they’re fairly easy to make compared to the whole DIY deck box. There are two different dovetails you’ll need for the front and back, depending on the height.
Get your table saw and use it to cut a single notch along the bottom before trimming a matching rabbet on all four sides of the box’s floor. Since this will be ⅛-inch thick, you should switch out to the shoulder plane to get the fit as tight as you can. Ideally, your installed floor will sit just inside of your case so it won’t get scratched when you hold it upright. Sand each inside piece thoroughly and then put it together.
Step 5: Splines
Dovetail-key splines are a nice way to dress up a mitered corner and add more strength to the joints on your DIY deck box. You can cut simple notches from a table saw if you like, or you can use Rockler.
Mill all of your notches at the router table and then use the same bit to cut a dovetail down the length of your board, adjusting until you get a snug fit into the joint. Cut it off and then slice into the smaller pisces on a bandsaw. Once you split the keys, you’ll soak them with glue and add them to each joint. You want to remove the excess material on the bandsaw or disc sander after everything dries out.
Step 6: Adding Lids
Once you finish your seed boxes, it’s time to add the finishing touches. The lids are very easy as all you need are square parts with rabbets all of the way around the top to drop into the tops of your case. Again, a shoulder plane is very nice to make these, and you can leave them flush with the outside or leave a small lip to make them easier to pull out. Cut shallow square holes into each corner to put the magnets and epoxy them in place.
Step Seven – Finishing
You want to finish everything before you go through the final assembly process so the surfaces don’t stick together. Add your oil, stain, poly, or lacquer to the box, allow it to dry, double-check the fit, and add some wax to the faces so they slide past one another.
These three DIY deck box ideas will give you areas to store your garden tools, larger pool items, or anything you can think of so it doesn’t clutter up your garage or shed in the off season. They’re DIY-friendly, and you can scale them to any size you need.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.