Sunday, 27 November 2016

Making Planters from old car wheels....


Another post on the same theme as the last one !  

Although I don't intend the blog to become simply a repository for information on making garden planters, there's no doubt that it's the flavour of the month in our household...

The wife wants to grow some ornamental grasses, yet we've no specific location fixed in our minds and so we'll put them into planters that we can move around for maximum effect.

Grasses tend to be quite shallow rooted, and therefore we don't need an excessive depth to the planter.  I decided to try out an idea I'd considered before, namely to make some planters out of old car wheels.

It doesn't really matter if they're steel or alloy, they can be prepared in much the same way.

I found some on eBay from a seller just a few miles away, three alloy wheels off an old Saab 900.   I've actually owned two Saab 900s in my life, but the last time was around 25 years ago and so I can't imagine there's a huge market for their old wheels these days ...


as advertised....


They were listed for £40 or best offer, so I initially offered £20 and after a round of counter-offers I got them for £25.   They're 16" (400 mm) in diameter and 8" (200 mm) deep externally across the rims, with an internal volume of around 20 litres.

I weighed them when I returned home.  They're over 8 kg each, which means I paid around £1 per kg which is more than scrap value but much less than the cost of the ingot to cast them new, and so it was a good enough deal.

The first job was to pressure-wash the wheels, to clean out the innards which were full of dirt and accumulated brake dust, and also to remove any flaking lacquer.


inside, after pressure washing....

To convert them into planters was very simple, the only real requirement being to make an internal liner to prevent the soil dropping through all the openings.    I first cut some rough squares of galvanised chicken wire and just pushed and folded them into the wheel cavity to form a shallow basket.


simple mesh basket...
This mesh basket provides structural support for the liner, which could be made from many things you may already have lying around, e.g. towelling, heavy duty polythene, weed membrane, hanging basket liners etc, but we chose circles cut from a spare piece of carpet.  These should retain some moisture at the base but also allow the planters to drain.


cutting carpet liners...

A rub over the wheel rims with emery cloth to key the surface, a final clean with white spirit and then a few coats of paint to finish them off.   Hammerite make a paint especially formulated for direct application to galvanised surfaces, but which is also suitable for aluminium and stainless steel.  I bought a new 750 ml tin of this paint in a copper colour, for less than a tenner delivered.


the paint - I've never used this particular formulation
before, so let's hope it's as good as the stuff for steel...

Although not strictly necessary, to finish them off I added feet to lift the rims off the ground a little and make it easier to get my hands under to move them around.  If you read my previous post, you'll know I still had 13 of the pool balls I bought, and so I drilled and tapped another nine to make tripod feet.


cutting screw threads in the pool balls...
and in the wheels for fixing studs for the balls....

And here's the finished article...







There's still two thirds of the tin of paint remaining, so let's say these planters cost us around £12 each...



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