Handmade Garden Basket

Build a classic handmade garden basket, also known as a garden trug. 

January/February 2015

Article, photographs and illustrations by Brian Tokarchuk

Handmade Trug With Rope Handles

Garden trug

A trug can be valuable around your home and garden. It can hold your tools while you’re working in the garden and serve as a collection basket for your harvested produce. This already simple design is made even easier with a rope handle, and the type of wood you use is entirely up to you.

I used 1/2-inch-thick pallet wood for the wide center slats, but if you can’t find any or don’t have a wood planer to cut your wood to this dimension, you can substitute 3/4-inch material. Likewise, feel free to use your favorite type of wood, reclaimed lumber pine or any hardwood you’d like for this project. This is my version of the classic English “garden trug.”

Material list

• 3-foot length 3-inch-wide-by-3/4-inch stock
• 2-foot length 1 3/8-by-3/4-inch stock
• 3-foot length 1 1/2-by-1/2 to 3/4-inch stock
• 8-foot length
• 1-by-1/2 or 3/4-inch stock
• 5-foot length 1/2-inch rope (cotton or nylon)
• 1/4 pound 1 1/2-inch finishing nails

Cut list

• Curved sides: 2 pieces – 17 1/2 inches long, 3 inches wide, 3/4 inch thick
• Ends: 2 pieces – 10 1/2 inches long, 1 3/8 inches wide, 3/4 inch thick
• Wide center slats: 3 pieces – 10 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide, 1/2 inch thick (can use 3/4-inch)
• Narrow slats: 8 pieces – 10 1/2 inches long, 1 inch wide, 1/2 inch thick (can use 3/4-inch)
• Rope handles: 2 pieces – 1/2 inch thick, 30 inches long

 Wood Cut and Organized for Assembly  Clamps Hold Wood in Place
For faster assembly, have all of your wood cut before you begin. Long C-clamps hold the frame in place while the glue dries.


 Scap Wood Slats
Scrap wood that is 1/2-inch thick spaces the bottom slats perfectly without needing to measure each time.

• Make a full-size pattern of the curved sides on light cardboard. (The apex of the curve will be the width of the stock.) Sketch the outline of the half pattern, and flip it to trace the remaining half. Mark with a pencil where each of the holes for the handles will be located.

 Pallet Wood
Use either pallet wood or your favorite stock that you have on hand.

• Place pattern on the 3-by-3/4-inch stock and trace the outline of your pattern. Mark handle locations on the stock and cut to shape. I used a handheld jigsaw for the curved cut. Drill the 1/2-inch holes for the handles. Sand lightly. Repeat for the other side piece.

• Cut the two 10 1/2-by-13/8-inch pieces to size and lightly sand. With glue and finishing nails, fasten in place so that they’re flush with the top edge of the ends of the curved side pieces.

 Nearly Finished Garden Trug
The almost-finished trug can be sanded and stained if desired.

• Cut the three 10 1/2-by-1 1/2-by-1/2-inch center slats. Find and mark the center on the bottom edge of both curved sides. Center the middle slat on marks and fasten in place. Leave a 1/2-inch gap on either side of the middle slat, and fasten the remaining two wide slats in place.

• Cut the eight 10 1/2-by-1-by-1/2-inch narrow slats to size. Install by beginning at the ends of the curved sides. Keep flush with edges of the curved sides, not the end pieces. Space the remaining slats equally with 1/2-inch gaps between slats. Use glue and finishing nails to fasten in place.

 Threading Rope Handles
Thread your rope handles from the outside and tie a simple knot.

• Lightly sand entire piece and apply finish as desired. Paint, stain, oil or varnish are all acceptable. I chose non-toxic cutting board oil for mine to let the natural beauty of the wood show.

• Cut the rope into two 30-inch lengths. Thread into holes from the outside in, and tie a simple overhand knot on the ends.

 Diagram 1 of the Trugg Plan  Diagram 2 of Trugg Plan  Diagram 3 of the Trugg Plan

You’re now the proud owner of a handy little basket that is equally as functional as it is beautiful. Enjoy!  

Looking for more woodworking projects? Here’s a plan for a DIY Wooden Stool.

Brian Tokarchuk is the father of two boys and is enjoying the life of a retiree in Manitoba, Canada. He enjoys organic gardening, growing open-pollinated corn, and restoring antique hand-operated farm tools.

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