Background

Tomato Stakes Comparison
Tomato Stakes Comparison

If you have good garden soil and feed your tomato plants, it's hard to find decent tomato stakes that are tall enough. Here is a way to get cheap stakes that are six feet or more tall. Difficulty: You need access to a table saw.

The plan is to rip standard two-by-four boards and cut a point on them. That's it. The above photo was taken in the end of July and the red marks indicate the tops of some standard tomato cages and tomato stakes that are commonly available at big box stores. The plants are already at or near the tops of the holders with two more months for them to grow1. Something needs to be done.

Parts and Tools

  • 1 8-foot 2x4 for every four tomato stakes you need
  • Chop saw OR circular saw
  • Table saw
  • 6-foot step ladder
  • sledge hammer

 

Cut and Rip the 2x4 Boards

Seven Foot Tomato Stakes
Seven Foot Tomato Stakes (6ft+ above ground)

I suggest you cut one foot off the end of each 8-foot 2x4 using a chop saw before you start ripping them. Seven feet seems to be near the limit for stakes of this width before you risk it bowing in the middle2. Rip each of the boards in half on the table saw. After that, rip each half in half again. If you neglect the width of the saw, here are the numbers for each 2x4 (actually 3.5in wide), unless you will visually line the center of the saw to the line.

  • First cut setting = 1 3/4 in
  • Second cut setting = 7/8 in

Cut Points on Ends of the Stakes

Tomato Stakes Ends
Tomato Stakes Ends

I think you can see from the picture that I was not very careful when making the points on the ends of the stakes. They worked out fine. The point is to make them pointy so they go in the dirt easy and bypass small stones. If you want an estimate, I think it was about 10-20 degrees off the center line.

 

Notes

Tomato Stakes in Garden
Tomato Stakes in Garden
  • 1This may not be a good solution for you, but I strongly suggest you avoid the HOLLOW metal posts with the green plastic on them. The first time you hit a rock, or strike them too hard, they will bend and become useless. You are paying money for a frustration stick. Find another way.
  • 2The remaining 1 foot blocks are good for raising things off a surface when they are being painted.
  • When buying 2x4s for this purpose, straight boards are nice, but it is even more important to get boards with the fewest number of knots. After ripping the board, the knots can fall out and create a weak point where it can crack.
  • In the summer of 2018, a 2x4 douglas fir stud is just over $4 at The Home Depot. This means the stakes are about $1 each.
  • I saw some 8-foot 2x2 pressure treated posts (1.5"x1.5") that looked like they'd be great for the job, but I won't put the pressure treated wood right next to the vegetables I'm eating. They are also over $3 each.