You can buy very nice pots in which you can seat the plastic pots in which indoor plants are sold, but this is a variation on that idea in that it is simply a circular cover to hide the plastic pot and tray and has no base. So it’s rather more of a palisade than a barrel, but you get the idea.

It’s not difficult to make, but it does present some challenges – live and learn, right?


  • SA pine:
    • 9x44mm cover strip – one length of 1.8m
  • Fasteners:
    • 9.5mm 4 gauge dome-head wood screws
  • Cable ties:
    • 7.9mm x 280mm** – one packet of 10

*Naturally, you may wish to use different wood – such as meranti, or a mix of the two, or different sizes, depending on the size of barrel you want to make.

**These cable ties are available in a range of lengths and widths… I think it’s best to use the widest – 7.9mm as it is easier to drill the holes for the securing screws in a slightly wider strip of steel.

The first thing you need to do is establish how many staves you will need, and to do that you need to know the circumference of the pot you intend to disguise – and that requires a little maths and some informed ‘guestimation’.

You can measure the circumference of the pot with a tape measure, or you can use simple maths…

With a rule, measure the diameter of the pot at its widest. That is usually the top of it. While you are about it, don’t forget to check the diameter of the tray as well – the barrel you make will have to match or exceed the greater of the two measurements you have just made.

Now comes the crafty part… what you have just measured will be the internal diameter of what you will be making, so you need to add double the thickness of the wood you are using, in this case 9mm on opposite ends of the diameter – making 18mm. You also need to add double the thickness of the cable ties you are using – another 0.5mm or so.

So, in all you will have to add, say 20mm to the length of what you are making – but this will also depend on the thickness of the wood you decide to use; the thicker it is, the more you need to allow for.

As you will remember from your days at school, the circumference of a circle is pi (3.142) multiplied by the diameter (or twice the radius)… hence C = πD or C = π2R.

So… if the diameter is 145mm, in this case add 20mm = 165 x 3.142 = 518.53mm – but round it out to 520mm; it’s better to have your final barrel slightly larger in internal diameter than the pot and tray it is hiding, than too small – and the pot and tray won’t fit into it.

When that happens, you tend to talk rather forcefully to your pot-plant. Or when the boss tells you brightly… ‘Oh look… it doesn’t fit.’

From the above you will have seen that the strip of staves you join will be the length of the external diameter of the barrel.

You also need to leave a gap between each, and to do that I used 8mmØ dowels. As you can see from the illustration, when the staves are formed into the required circle, the gap between each closes. Hence, if you butted them hard up against each other while they are lying flat on the work surface, when you try to form the circle, they won’t – or the cable ties might break.

So, in order to arrive at the number of staves you require, calculate the outer circumference of the barrel and then divide that by the widths of the wood you will be using for the staves – in this case 44mm PLUS the 8mm gap between each. I ended up with 10 staves.


  1. The first step is to establish how high you want the barrel to be and the simplest way is to place it against its intended recipient (in its tray) and mark off the height
  2. Cut the number of staves you require. You can then leave the ends flat cut at 90° or, as I did, scallop one end of each (the tops) to just give a little interest to the unit. I cut one very accurately, and then used it as the template for the rest, by clamping it to a piece of scrap with a couple of ‘to-be’ scalloped lengths aligned and clamped in place.
  3. Then, by putting the tip of the drill bit centring the hole cutter (in this case 38mmØ), you can then scallop the other staves.
  4. This shows how a semi-circular section of the top of the stave is cut away. In hindsight I think I made the scallops too deep, but at least they allow one to get one’s fingertips under the rim of the pot-plant and lift it out.
  5. Using a rule to align them and an end-stop set at 90° to keep them all at 90°, I laid out the staves with two 8mmØ dowels between each, top and bottom for greater stability.
  6. I checked the final length to confirm I had the correct number of staves… the short offcut on the right is simply to help set the final 8mm gap.
  7. Now for the challenging part… setting the cable ties to the correct lengths. I ended up using a number of cable ties before getting it right. Bear in mind that though the manufacturer suggests turning the ends of the ties inwards to lock them in place once fitted around a pipe, for instance – they really grip, so you have to be careful not to push them in too far… it’s almost impossible to get the end out to extend them again. I set the ties so that the connectors would not be in the gap between any two staves, but rather on the staves. When doing this line the ties up, but do not actually connect them… as mentioned just above: once connected, you’re stuck at that length or shorter (you can always push the connector further along the tie, but not back to remove it).
  8. I aligned the other ends of the ties so that there would be sufficient of the ends of the first ties to be inserted into the connectors.
  9. Then I marked the securing screw positions in the centre of each stave.
  10. To stop the tip of the bit skittering about, make a small depression in the centre of the tie with a light tap with a centring punch.
  11. Secure the tie and drill each securing screw hole.
  12. Job done.
  13. With a piece of 6x19mm moulding as my guide, I positioned the ties on the strip of staves. Note that the end of the moulding does not pass the connector. This is because the connector is slightly wider, naturally, than the tie itself, and you need to avoid the ties going out of alignment… you want a neat finish, right?
  14. I secured the first tie with the securing screws. And then followed with the other three.
  15. With all the securing screws in place I formed the staves into the required barrel shape and connected the ties.
  16. Here’s the final result on the one side. You can use tin snips or a junior hacksaw to cut off the excess. The securing screw in this case, however, locks the two ties in place.
  17. An ornamental artificial orchid without the barrel.
  18. And with it. A slightly more rustic look and a different one.

Project guide

Skill level: 2

Estimated time: 5-6 hours

Cost: R100

Assistant: No

Tools required:

Drill/driver, jigsaw.


These materials are available at Selected Mica Stores. To find your closest Mica and whether or not they stock the items required, please go to, find your store and call them. If your local Mica does not stock exactly what you need they will be able to order it for you or suggest an alternative product or a reputable source.