My Seed Planter

My Seed Planter

I was able to cobble together a hand held seeder out of PVC pipe and a few other pieces of hardware.   I’m expecting that it will work for medium to large-sized seeds like beans, corn, peas, pumpkins, squash, and, most importantly for me, sunflowers.

Here’s how it went.

Cutting the Bottom

Cutting the Bottom

With a table saw, I shaped one end of a 1/2 inch PVC pipe to a V-shaped point.  I’ll call this the downpipe and its length will depend on how tall you are.  I was shooting for it to end up a little above waist level, and I’m fairly tall, so mine ended up being 41 inches long.

The small piece was part of the big pipe.

The small piece was part of the big pipe.

Out of a piece of 4 inch PVC pipe I shaped a strip to close off one side of the V-point at the bottom.  I used PVC cement to attach it, and I’m thinking that it may be the weakest link in the machine.  Time will tell if it will withstand repeated jabs into the soil.

Edit 9/1/16:  The glued-on strip is still there doing fine.

To close off the other side of the V and, more importantly, to open and  let a seed drop  out, I fashioned a flipper out of a piece of steel.  Getting a useful piece of steel is probably the hardest part of the project.  You want to be able to bend it, but not so easily that it will come unbent halfway down a new row of corn.  It helps if you’re a bit of a pack rat and collect odd materials for future use, but hardware stores will probably have something you can use.  Using a jig saw is an easy way cut the steel, but a hack saw is fine too.

Flipper Cut Out Being Drilled

Flipper Cut Out Being Drilled

The flipper starts out being cross-shaped.  The side arms are drilled for a pivot bolt and then bent down to wrap down over the pipe.  The top arm is then bent up to make a lever to attach a pull rod.  This rod will pull the flipper open to drop out the seed.

Some shiny paint has been added and you can see how the flipper fits on the bottom and attaches to the pull rod.

The business end of the planter

The business end of the planter

The Top End

The Top End

The funnel is to guide a dropped a seed into the pipe, and next to it is a cup made out of a 2 inch PVC coupling sitting on a 2″ male x 1/2″ female PVC bushing.  A 4 oz Yoplait yogurt container fits perfectly into the cup, closing off the hole in its bottom and holding the seeds.  The cup is only to hold the seeds. There is no automatic drop of the seeds.  Sorry, I’m just not that clever.  You have to hold seeds in your fingers and drop them one at a time into the funnel.  You drop a seed, then squeeze the handle to open the flipper and release the seed in the soil.

Edit 9\1\16: I’ve long since lost the yogurt cup and I’ve cut the 2 inch coupling down to about half height to make it easier to get my fingers in to grab the seeds. I closed the hole in the bottom of the coupling with good old duct tape. Also, the funnel is totally optional.  It works just fine to drop the seeds into the top of the down pipe without the funnel there.

The handle is made of two parts.  The lower piece is attached to the top of the pull rod and to a spring, so that squeezing it upward pulls the flipper open and drops a seed.  When it’s released, the spring pulls it back down, closing the flipper.  This piece is made of 1 inch PVC so as to be big enough to wrap around the 1/2 inch downpipe.  The ends of this were angled in the table saw in the same way as the bottom of the downpipe.

Parts Layout

Parts Layout

The individual pieces are shown above, and all together below.



Edit 9/1/16:  The worst part of this design is that I ran two screws all the way through the down pipe to pivot the flipper and the lower handle.  It works fine for medium seeds, but big seeds can get caught on the screws. A better way to do it would be to run a short screw threaded into the plastic pipe from each side just enough to screw into the plastic, but not protrude inside.  The downside to this is that the plastic pipe is not really very thick and i think it would be easy to strip the threads in the plastic.  That’s why I didn’t do it that way.

If I were going to build it now, I think I would glue an extra thickness of plastic on the outside where the screws go and then use the short screws as mentioned above.  This will change dimensions of the flipper and the lower handle.  Smarter people may have smarter ideas.

Requested close ups of the flipper  Sorry they’re blurry.


Here’s a crude sketch of the dimensions of the flipper to help answer a posted question. The 2 inch section is the top part that is bent to attach to the pull rod.

93 Responses to “A Homemade Seed Planter”

  1. FlowerLady Says:

    Way to go TMan. Let us know how it works. It sure looks like it ought to. It should also make seed planting a heck of a lot easier.


  2. Janie Says:

    Very interesting. DH will be interested in this I know. I always need ways to make my work easier.

    Can you devise an easy way to dig potatoes?


  3. thinmac Says:

    Thanks for the comments, FlowerLady and Janie. I’ll keep you posted.

    Janie, I’ll give that potato digger some thought. 🙂

  4. PattiOh Says:

    A very cool contraption, ThinMan!

    My Father still enjoys gardening,but he gets dizzy when he bends over. This looks like a great project for him to try.

    Thanks for sharing your clever plan!

  5. thinmac Says:

    Thanks, Patti. That would be great if your dad could use it.

  6. Gauti Says:

    regarding the potato planter, has a pretty simple solution that can be made similar to our seed planter.

  7. Adam Jensen Says:

    MacGyver has NOTHING on you, brother!

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. thinmac Says:

    Aw shucks, Adam, it wasn’t that much. 🙂

    You’re welcome.


  9. Ruli Says:

    If i want to plant small seed its possible to use your inovation tools?


    Ruli – Indonesian

  10. thinmac Says:

    It might be possible, but the bottom part would have to be made very carefully. In my planter there is a small gap which would let tiny seeds slip through before the flipper was opened. Another concern would be the planting depth. You would have to be careful not to let the planter go too deep for your small seeds. Also, very tiny seeds might stick to the plastic tubing and not drop all the way down.

    Good luck to you if you decide to try it.


  11. Ruli Says:

    Okhey i will make some experiment for that. By the way is any information from you in mechanization for strawbery seed planting?



  12. thinmac Says:

    Nope, sorry. I don’t know a thing about planting strawberry seeds


  13. Ruli Says:

    Okhey thanks for your help..


  14. jose Says:

    i built one made of gi pipe (based on your plan). works great. one thing that interest me is how do those wooden old corn planter work. how does the mechanism, i know is simple, work? do you have any idea? been looking for a drawing.

  15. thinmac Says:

    Jose – That’s great that you were able to build one and that it works. Good job! Although I don’t know what gi pipe is, I’m glad it worked for you.

    Sorry, but I don’t really know how those old corn planters worked. I think they had two handles at the top, but I can’t remember any more than that.

    Thanks a lot for your reply. I’m happy that my idea was useful.

  16. filipino okie Says:

    hello thinmac:
    your pvc planter, was a great idea, we have just bought a piece of lot here in cebu (central island of the philippines) and im going to plant some sweet corn seeds. i was looking for some ideas to use a manual seed planter. im sure this will work, can you email me the tip portion of your planter?
    thanks a lot
    filipino okie

  17. thinmac Says:

    Sorry, but I don’t understand what you would like me to put in an email. Can you clarify?

  18. Sharon Says:

    Love your seed planter and I would like to link to it in one of my articles.

  19. thinmac Says:

    Sharon, feel free to link. Thanks for asking.


  20. Joe Says:


    Hey thanks! Can’t wait to use it.
    It’s heck-of-va better than the planting stick and seed bag I’ve been using.

  21. thinmac Says:

    Yep, Joe, I think it will definitely beat that. Good luck with yours!


  22. esi chavoh Says:

    hi.thank you for this work.i am from azarbacan(khoy)and is nssesery for me to made this machine please guide me and explain to made it.thanku

  23. esi chavoh Says:

    please guide me with email

  24. thinmac Says:

    Esi Chavoh – I have done my best to explain how to make this planter. If you have a question about any part of the explanation, please post it here and I’ll be happy to try to help you.


  25. esi chavosh Says:

    i want to know that how the seeds feeds to system and sit in hole soil .in our local seeds are nut.first we irrigate the field and later that moisture arrives to special moisture with cane grave the soil and the seeds sit in hole by man.we do this works for about tow hectare in one day by 6 person

  26. esi chavosh Says:

    very thankyou for helo

  27. thinmac Says:

    Esi – I hope I understand your question. Here are the steps to follow.

    1. Drop a seed in the open tan-colored funnel at the top of the planter.
    2. The seed will fall all the way down to the bottom of the tube.
    3. Push the bottom of the planter into the soil.
    4. Squeeze the handle. The flap on the bottom will open and the seed will fall into the soil.
    5. Raise the planter up and soil should fall into the whole and cover the seed.

    If this doesn’t help answer your question, please write back.

  28. esi chavosh Says:

    thank for help do seeds fall in the whole automatically or no?if there is more picture please send me

  29. thinmac Says:

    You have to drop the seed in the top hole with your fingers, one at a time.

    After this, the seed will fall in the hole in the soil when you squeeze the lever.

  30. stephen Says:

    This may not work in heavy clay soil. I divised one from a simple 3 1/2 foot section of 1/2 inch conduit. Strapped to the bottom and to the side is a 3 inch section of conduit with a hard wood dibble jammed into it. Poke a hole, spin (so the clay won’t stick) drop the seed down the tube and then drop a pinch of compost to cover the seed. It beats crawling on the knees and is faster too.

  31. rws Says:

    Nifty machine you put together.

    What is the hole above the lever pin for?

    How is the seed cup sealed as you have the pvc cross connected to hold the cup and it appears to be open into the pvc handle?

    Thank you…

  32. thinmac Says:

    Hi, rws, thanks for your nice comment. The hole above the lever pin was a mistake. It was supposed to be for the lever pin, but it was off a bit after I drilled it, so I just moved down a bit and drilled a better one. To seal the seed cup I have a 4 ounce Yoplait yogurt container that fits perfectly. I don’t remember where I got a 4 ounce cup. They are usually 6 ounces.

  33. Amy Pirrone Says:


    Great homemade seed planter. I have a question about the steel rod you used. Is that an item that can be bought at a hardware store? Also, is that a turn buckle you use at the top of the rod?



  34. thinmac Says:

    Hi Amy, I’m glad you liked my seed planter. The rod is a 1/4 inch steel rod that you can usually find in hardware stores. One kind is threaded rod that has threads running its entire length or unthreaded. I bought the unthreaded kind and used a die to make threads on both ends. Not everyone will have the threading die, so threaded rod would be a good way to go.

    You are right about the turnbuckle at the top of the rod. It makes an easy way to adjust the length of the rod so you don’t have to get it exactly right when you saw it to length.

    Great questions. I should have covered them in the text, but didn’t think of it. If I get ambitious, I will fix that.

  35. william Says:

    plant potatos in old tires use one tire fill with dirt as they grow ad tire and more dirt when ready take tires down nock down dirt pick up potatos no digging

  36. thinmac Says:

    Crikey, William, how many old tires do you have at your place?

  37. maxx Says:

    interesting gadget you have there thinmac. Just wondering how do you control the amount of seed to drop per hole? Do you have to drop into the downpipe one seed at a time or you just let the seeds fill the downpipe and the flap controls the amount of seed per hole?

  38. thinmac Says:

    Maxx – You have to drop the seeds down the pipe one at a time by hand. Anything more sophisticated was beyond me.

  39. Spencer Says:

    Hi thinmac I’m a student at Iowa State University working on a sophmore design project in mechanical engineering. My group decided to build a seed planter similar to yours, and we had a few questions.
    -What is the force required to operate the seed planter
    -What is the time required to plant 30 seeds
    -What was the cost to build the seed planter
    -How long did it take you to assemble it
    -How reliable is the seed planter

  40. thinmac Says:

    Hi Spencer. I like your choice of project, and I’ll answer your questions as best I can.

    -What is the force required to operate the seed planter?
    That would depend on where along the lever you decide to apply the force. I don’t have an accurate spring scale to measure it so I can’t help you with that. For the spring that I used I would guess that in the middle of the lever the force is on the order of one or two pounds. Obviously the choice of spring is going to affect it.

    -What is the time required to plant 30 seeds?
    Probably two to three minutes

    -What was the cost to build the seed planter?
    This is probably something engineering students like you guys could determine. In my case, at least half of the materials were things I already had on hand, so my cost wouldn’t be representative of many people’s.

    -How long did it take you to assemble it?
    Maybe 2 to 4 hours of construction time.

    -How reliable is the seed planter?
    It hasn’t broken yet. In wet soil it has a tendency to plug up with soil and not let seeds out, even though the operator keeps squeezing the lever. I’ve learned not to use it on wet days.

    Good luck with your project. I’d love to see a picture of it when it’s done.


  41. […] A Homemade Seed Planter « ThinMan’s Blog […]

  42. fritz monroe Says:

    This is awesome. Thanks for sharing this. I’ll make one of these over the winter.

  43. thinmac Says:

    Fritz — glad you liked it, and good luck with yours.

  44. yohannes Says:

    it is really a good creativity.and best solution for row planting.
    How can I find this seed planter? please tell me…

  45. thinmac Says:

    Yohannes – you can’t find this seed planter anywhere. You have to make it yourself.

  46. Grower X Says:

    Excellent work Senor T-

    How’s the PVC glued piece holding up? It appears you did not use the cleaner/primer (usually purple) before cement.

    What type of soil do you have?

    Thanks for sharing. We’d like to make two similar to this to facilitate even faster planting.

  47. thinmac Says:

    Hi, Grower X, the piece is still attached, in spite of not using the purple primer stuff. That may be partly because I haven’t used it too much. I tend to use it only for the bigger flatter seeds that won’t do well in my Earthway seeder, like squash and pumpkins.

    My soil here is fairly sandy with a fair number of rocks. The planter works well in it as long as it isn’t wet.

    Good luck with yours.

  48. dragan Says:

    please can you explane how the tip is open maybe some close up picture please

  49. thinmac Says:

    Dragan, I’m sorry it has taken so long to reply to you, but I am posting two photos that show the flipper on the tip of the planter. When the handle is squeezed, the steel rod moves the flipper open. When the handle is released, a spring closes the flipper back up. I hope this helps you understand it.

  50. trevor Says:

    Can u make a video about it pleaze

  51. trevor Says:

    Do u think u could make a video about it please

  52. Dennis Schwab Says:

    Peohguy Says: Very clever thinmac. It really looks like it should work well as long as the soil isn’t too damp and cause the flapper end to clog with soil, but your flapper should do a good job of preventing it. A 1/2″ to 1″ long section of thin walled 1 1/2″ to 2″ Dia PVC pipe closed off on both ends with a hole slightly larger than a corn or bean seed in one place on the curved surface of the, say 2″ dia pipe section along with a hand crank centered in the enclosing end caps of the 2″ dia pipe section and extending through the sides of the seed funnel might make it more automatic. The idea being that the seed wheel mounted inside the your seed funnel would be set deep enough so it would be covered by the seeds. Turning the crank would alow a single seed to drop in the hole when the hole is on the top of the rotation and then the seed would drop out of the hole when the hole is at the bottom of its rotatation, then dropping into the seed deposit tube. It may work with some experimentation and refinement.

  53. thinmac Says:

    Trevor – sorry, but I won’t be building another one, so there won’t be a video of the construction.

  54. thinmac Says:

    Peohguy – I had to think about that for a while, and then I took a little vacation. Your idea sounds pretty clever to me and I may try to implement it some day when I feel ambitious. Thanks for taking the time to tell me about it.

  55. Hi Thinmac, i leave in Africa and agriculture is our life yet mechanizing it is very expensive. i think i will build this and see it can work for me and also try to integrate it with Dennis Schwab’s additions and see it can be automatic. will be back to you in a months time when i have built it. Thanks in advance.

  56. thinmac Says:

    Hi, Brino Omuyiizi Ddungu Hosey. I’d be very happy if my seeder idea could help you make one for yourself. So far, I haven’t heard from anyone else who has built one, and I would enjoy seeing yours when you get it built. Good luck with the modifications.

  57. Leigh Says:

    I just ran across this. Very clever

  58. thinmac Says:

    Thanks for your kind comment, Leigh.

  59. chris Says:

    I guess I just dont understand ,. i get it that the beige funnell is where you drop the seed, but what is the white funnell that comes off the cross-tee opposite the handle?

  60. thinmac Says:

    Chris – The part you’re asking about is where I put a yogurt container to hold the seeds. I reach into it and pull out seeds so I can drop them one by one down the funnel. It doesn’t work really well because it’s too narrow and deep to easily grasp the seeds. I would cut it down to about half the height shown in the pictures.

  61. girmagwold Says:

    This is a fantastic idea. It can be helpful millions of small holder ‘tef’ growing farmers in Ethiopia. Please visit and contact them.

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  66. Sayf ameen Says:

    Please help me with the drawings of a well labelled seed planter parts.

  67. thinmac Says:

    I’m sorry, Sayf ameen, but I don’t have any drawings of these parts.

  68. gaiamethod Says:

    That is brilliant!!! I live in Luxor with my Egyptian farmer husband who is only learning of these new, labour saving devices!!! 🙂 He grows corn twice a year, as we can get four growing seasons out of one year. Most small farmers cannot afford big machines so everything is done by hand. He is going to make your seed gun and see how it goes. Thank you so much. Its a great job. Far too wellmade to be ‘cobbled’ together!

  69. thinmac Says:

    How nice that he can use my idea. The one thing I would change is to not use bolts that go all the way through the down-pipe, as bigger seeds can get caught on them. I would try two short screws, one on each side in place of each bolt. I have also cut down the seed cup on mine to make it easier to pull the seeds out. Good luck.

  70. Quizcat Says:

    I really like your idea! Can you advise the exact dimensions of the metal cross piece that you bend to form the flipper?

  71. thinmac Says:

    Sorry for the delay getting back to you, Quizcat. I usually do better than this. I made a pretty crude sketch of the piece and dimensions and I’ll add it to the post.

  72. Quizcat Says:

    Thank you very much! Im going to give it a try…

  73. thinmac Says:

    You’re very welcome. Good luck with yours.

  74. I just ran into this and am thinking the next gadget to be fashioned out of scrap has got to be at planter – just like this seeder but with a larger caliber downpipe for seedlings. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  75. thinmac Says:

    Sounds good to me. Send pics when you get it done! 🙂

  76. Sharanappa Says:

    Supper i like this can have this videos of while building videos

  77. thinmac Says:

    Sorry, I have no videos.

  78. Akinade, Nigeria. Says:

    Your attempt has provoked me into thoughts that will make my planting exercise easier. Thank you and well done.

  79. thinmac Says:

    I’m glad you found it useful. Thank you for taking the time to write.

  80. Jinglebell Says:

    I am trying to construct similar device for rice seeds.

    I have a question. When you flip it open. Doesn’t the seed rush out in bulk?

  81. thinmac Says:

    When I use the seeder I drop only one seed at a time down the tube. I don’t try to use it for very small seeds.

  82. Juarez S Garcia Says:

    Nice planter, we plant garlic standing up clove. I think I will try to adapt it to garlic. Do you have any ideas?

  83. thinmac Says:

    I haven’t planted garlic, but I think the cloves would work well, except for one thing. The worst part of my design is the two screws that go through the down tube. Large seeds sometimes get caught on those screws and I imagine that garlic cloves would also get caught. If you could use a short screw from each side instead of a long screw that goes through the tube, I think it would work for you. Good luck.

  84. Love your gadget. I did not have the time to make one just now so I ended up buying a planting stick from Stand N Plant which you mentioned earlier (

    One thing I found with the Stand N Plant which is probably relevant for your device is how I use it with very small seeds. With very small seeds, as you know, there is always the chance that the seed will fall through a gap in the “flipper” (Stand N Plant don’t call it that but it does the same job) before the stick is pushed into the ground. For tiny seeds I simply put the stick on the ground before dropping in the seed, then proceed from there.

    With a bit of practise I can even allow for the 1/2 second or so it takes the seed to fall to the length of the planting stick and get a rhythm going where I can plant a seed every few steps.

    For bigger seeds I like to put the seed in before the stick is on the ground because the “clunk” or “click” sound of the seed hitting the bottom of the pipe of the planting stick usually confirms to me that it has not got clogged with mud or the like. I suspect that any such device will have problems when the ground is muddy.

    Thanks for your great idea as I may try and make one when I have the time, just for the fun of it.

  85. thinmac Says:

    Hi, William. You definitely speak from experience, and I appreciate your helpful comments. It sounds like the Stand’n’Plant is really all you need — it does everything my planter does and maybe even a little better. Thanks for contributing.

  86. D.kusuma Says:

    this is amazing ,but I want seeding automatically will u plz send me an idea.

  87. thinmac Says:

    Yes, that would be a very nice feature, but I don’t know how to do that.

  88. Brian Maples Says:

    Awesome works, I was manually planting this year using my fingers bending over. The whole time I was envisioning something very much like this… 🙂 I thought of a great mod for your design, think magazine like for a firearm…. So what you do is get some pvc and saw slits in enough of the side all down the tube every 1/2 inch so you can insert a piece of poster board/thin plastic that would separate the seeds for each hole then you could pull each separator out its slot in the magazine and it would drop your seeds down your device. You might even be able to go further with that idea by thinking of how a caulk gun works by inching each squeeze further to have it jerk each divider in a similar manner. so two you could maybe run it along your primary tube with the planter head and have it drop in that way or make the primary tube the loadable magazine itself or even combine 4 together an switch as you run each tube out of the seeds. They some clear plastic tube that might also function to make loading the tubes with seeds easier, Maybe have it in a spaced configuration so you could plant 4 holes at a time or something even. So 4 angles magazines feeding 4 planter heads like you made. That would be sweet… 🙂 I like the magazine idea over the turning gear types that attempt to grab the seeds from a gravity hopper because you can put multiple seed types/sizes to double plant two different things in single hole. The other idea I figured could work was a quarter gumball machines style, but figured it would be problematic for goofy shaped non uniform seeds.

  89. thinmac Says:

    That’s a really clever idea, Brian. The big question is whether I will ever get ambitious enough to try to make the seed magazIne. Thanks a lot for the idea. If you ever build one, shoot me a message so I can see a picture.

  90. free cccam Says:

    Hello,nice share.

  91. thinmac Says:

    Thanks. I appreciate the thought.

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