How To Recycle A Computer Desk Into A Potting Bench
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How To Recycle A Computer Desk Into A Potting Bench

The next time you see a computer desk on the side of the road or in a dumpster, grab it. Recycle it into a practical convenient potting bench for your garden.

An old computer desk can easily be recycled by reusing it as a potting bench for the garden. Whether you pick one up on the side of the road, dumpster diving, or actually pay for one from a yard sale or thrift shop; a solid wood computer desk can be transformed into an ideal potting bench.

You will need:

  • sand paper
  • outdoor polyurethane
  • outdoor primer and paint (if you choose not to keep woodgrain)
  • paint brush(s)
  • drill
  • saw
  • screwdriver
  • asst hardware
  • plastic tub with good lip and preferably with lid
  • wire basket(s) from old refrigerator/freezer
  • plastic coffee containers/lids

Make sure your acquired computer desk structure is sound. You may need to tighten screws as most of them were assembled at home. If your computer desk has a flimsy backing material, you may want to just discard it or use it as a template to cut a piece of material suitable for outdoor use on your potting bench. Remove all hardware handles and door hinges.

Using fine grain sandpaper, gently sand down every wood surface you can find including undersides of shelves and insides of drawers. The elements can be brutal so everything you can prep is advisable. Follow with removing dust using a tack cloth or barely damp soft cloth. Let dry.

The roll out shelf on a computer desk is perfect for installing a plastic tub for potting soil. Choose a container that has a large lip to hold it in place. Ideally you want one with a lid. Again, reuse of some else's discard is preferred. A 1/4 size stainless steel steam table pan with lid is good. A plastic storage container with lid works. You can even reuse a stockpot or dutch oven with handles removed. If lid is taller than the 3" shelf clearance, you might try using it upside down.

Once you have your desired potting soil container, measure the inside dimensions and transfer to the top of the rollout shelf. Draw a second line outside the first to account for the thickness of the container making sure this does not exceed the dimensions of the lip. Carefully cut out this piece. Try the hole for size. Sand the edges smooth and remove the dust. Alternatively, you can use one of the drawers for potting soil.

Next you want to apply primer (if you are painting) to every surface of your potting bench including bottom. Once dry, apply paint color of your choice. Let dry. Apply second coat if necessary and let dry. Now is the time to decorate using stencils, free-hand artwork, or decals from a craft store whether you painted or decided to keep woodgrain. Let dry completely. Follow now with clear polyurethane coat or two for protection over paint or for woodgrain. Lightly sand between coats for better adhesion as per polyurethane instructions on label. Allow to dry between coats. The more coats you do, the better the protection. Also apply polyurethane to hardware.

Once the final coat of polyurethane is dry, replace doors and drawer pulls. Add your potting soil container or line a drawer with heavy plastic sheeting such as a contractor trash bag for potting soil. Attach a recycled wire basket to the side of your potting bench for garden tools, stakes and other supplies. Use coffee containers to store seed packets, garden gloves, garden twine, markers, and other supplies you don't want to get wet. Add hardware hooks to the side of your potting bench to hang other necessities like a plastic watering can. Store additional potting soil, compost, and water in 5 gallon buckets under the potting bench.

Now you have a beautiful functional one-of-a-kind garden potting bench that you created by recycling a discarded computer desk into a usable garden furniture piece.

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Comments (5)

Most desks made in the US are fiberboard and wouldn't last a month outside.

Interesting but I'm with James. It's a shame too. This sounds like a great plan.

The fiberboard computer desks work in the garage or a shed.

Great idea!

Now that's an innovative way of dealing with an old computer desk.

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