Build an Indoor Grow Light Plant Stand

Cheryl Long shares how to build this indoor grow light plant stand, a multipurpose piece of furniture that acts as an all-in-one bookcase, seed-starting shelf and houseplant display case.

| December 2001/January 2002

Anyone can build this attractive, ultra-easy indoor grow light plant stand, bookcase, seed-starting shelf and houseplant display case.

No more hauling in your lights every spring, setting them up for a few weeks of seed-starting and then storing them the rest of the year. With MOTHER’s grow light bookcase, your lights are ready whenever you need them — seed-starting in spring and fall, rooting summer cuttings of perennials and displaying flowering violets, orchids or other houseplants. Then when you don’t need all the shelves and lights for growing plants, you can use the unit as a bookcase. (And what homestead can’t use more bookshelves?) How-to books, healthy house plants and your favorite hot peppers will live happily together on MOTHER’s grow light bookcase.

I like to keep my carpentry projects as simple as possible, and you could build this one with just a handsaw and a hammer, if those were the only tools you had. Or just ask someone to cut the pieces for you. (If you do this, I recommend you buy the boards you need, bring them home, and measure and mark all the cuts clearly, then take them back to the store or to a friend to be cut.)

The cuts will be cleaner if they’re made with a power saw, and using screws and an electric drill will be easier and stronger than a hammer and nails. (If you don’t already own a rechargeable electric drill, I highly recommend them. I almost never use a hammer now that I have a cordless electric drill.) The curved cuts along the top trim and the bottom sides of the bookcase are optional. If you want to include them and have access to a saber saw or other way to cut them, they provide an attractive, ornamental touch.

To get started, first go to an electrical supply store and buy 4-foot, two-tube fluorescent light fixtures and quality cool-white or warm-white tubes. (You don’t need to buy the much more expensive special lights designed for plants ;— the inexpensive standard tubes work fine.) Take this article with you to the store, so the clerk can help you choose the best fixture style. If you’ve never worked with light fixtures before, have them show you how the fixture comes apart, so you can attach the frame to the bookshelves. You may also want to pick up a timer that will turn the lights on and off at whatever times you specify. Timers are inexpensive — just plug it into the wall outlet, then plug the light fixture into it.

Once you have the fixtures, you can determine the length of your shelf, and how wide to make the valances (the boards that will cover the front of the fixtures). The shelves will have to be long enough to hold the fixtures, of course, but you can make them longer if you want, giving you more room for books even when the lighted section is being used for plants. You can also decide how high you want each shelf and whether you want just two shelves or maybe three or four.

11/2/2015 1:47:42 PM

I really enjoy my LED grow lights. I've seen a HUGE improvement when I switched from a fluorescent light to my LEDs. I got mine from and love how they're safe and cool to the touch (my toddler and preschooler are my little helpers) and they're also easily adjustable and take up little space. And they're purple so that makes my 4 year old daughter happy :)

7/27/2014 2:47:48 AM

Q: do grow lights only come in tubes? Do they come in LED or Incandescent type bulbs? LED or incandescent type bulbs would take up less space....

12/27/2013 12:12:10 PM

I agree the article really lacked in practical help. It did, however, give me an idea about re-purposing an old headboard. It already has 2 lighted sections, a section I can shelf books. Thanks for the idea, even though the article is a decade old :~)

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