Building a Sandbox

Building a Sandbox - Emma in play zone

After seeing how much our kids loved playing in the sand at the beach this summer, we decided to take the plunge and build them a sandbox. At first I was worried that there would be sand everywhere because of it, but seeing how long they both played happily in it convinced me we should go for it anyway. We briefly considered making a rock box instead but went back to play sand because we thought the kids would enjoy being able to build with it as well as dig.

We looked at a few sandbox designs for inspiration (from here and here) and Dan combined our favourite elements and drew up a design of what we wanted.

Building a Sandbox - Design

We ended up with a simple box made of 2″ x 8″ with a barn doorish lid made of wood slats to keep the leaves and animals out and strong enough to stand up to the weather and the kids walking on it (because we knew that was the first thing Brendan was going to want to do.)

Building a Sandbox - Design with lid open

After playing around with the wood to get an idea of size we decided to make the sandbox 5′ x 5′. Big enough for both of them to have a good amount of room to play, without it being too big for our space.

Building a Sandbox - Deciding the size

Dan cut the 2″ x 8″ with a mitered edge at each corner and added 4″ x 4″ post in the corners for support. He screwed heavy duty lag bolts through the 2″ x 8″ into the posts to attached the corners together.

Building a Sandbox - Cutting the boards

Then we were ready to put together the lid. Dan picked up some cedar 2″ x 4″s for the cross pieces and 5′ cedar fence boards for the slats. He cut the 2″ x 4″ top and bottom pieces and mitered the top edges so the outside edge wouldn’t get in the way of the sandbox lid opening fully.

Building a Sandbox - Screwing the lid together

Then we attached the deck boards to the top and bottom pieces, spacing and screwing them in from the back. Dan ripped down two of the deck boards to fit the smaller space left in the middle of both of the doors. The sandbox was really starting to come together!

Building a Sandbox - Attached lid

We measured where we wanted the hinges and chiseled out a little pocket for them in the top of the 2″ x 8″ before screwing them in place, so the lid would sit flush on top of the box when closed.

Building a Sandbox - Putting on the hinges

Then Dan measured and attached the diagonal pieces between the top and bottom 2″ x 4″s to add more support and create more of a barn door look.

Building a Sandbox - Finished building

All that was left to do was finish it off with some weather protecting stain and attach the handles. So we brought a few test pots home and tried them out on a few different wood scraps and settled on a brown-gray semi-transparent stain from Behr called Boot Hill Grey (we’d love to also stain the play set the same colour down the road). I brushed the stain on one evening after supper and got it finished just before dark.

Building a Sandbox - Stain colour

A couple days later, Dan and the kids picked up a load of play sand from our local Home Hardware and filled up the sandbox with the wheel barrow.

Building a Sandbox - Sandbox beside playset

The kids love it just as much as we hoped! I still can’t get over how long they will play together in there.

Building a Sandbox - Kids building in the sand

The sand also seems to keep enough moisture in it that it’s great for building. It makes bucket sandcastles beautifully. And the lid holds up well to our little climber.

Building a Sandbox - Brendan walking on the lid

So far my worry about having sand in the house all the time has been kept at bay by keeping a small hand broom by the back door of the garage and brushing them off before they come in.

Building a Sandbox - Kids playing in the sand

We fit this project in between family vacations and a few other home projects but the actual time to put this together wasn’t all that much. We spent one evening building the box, another evening putting together the lid and a third evening to stain it before we were ready for sand. So its definitely a doable project and so much fun for the kids. I love that it’s one of those things that can grow with them.

Building a Sandbox - The play zone

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