Build a Sandbox

Build a sandbox — it's not that hard or expensive — and your kids will have a toy to keep them occupied through the summer and warmer days of spring and fall.

| August/September 1994

So you want to get the kids out of the house, but also don't want to let them out of your sight. Build a sandpit? No, because you don't want to dig up your lawn either. Why not build a sandbox instead? It's simple and easy, although the grass underneath will die unless you make the considerable effort to move box and contents every few days.

You can make a simple but serviceable wooden sandbox from a sheet of 1/2" thick plywood for the box and a cheaper 1/4" sheet for a base. Cut one 4' x 8' sheet into three 16" x 8' strips. Bisect one strip into a pair of 4' lengths. Form the four panels into a 4' x 8' x 16"-high rectangular open-topped box (make it shorter if you wish by trimming the long panels equally).

Fasten 2" long wood-lath stakes at ends and every two feet along the outsides of plywood panels, and hammer stake ends into the soil to hold the panels down. Fasten the galvanized-steel right-angle truss plates you bought from the hardware store inside each corner—running self-tapping drywall screws through holes in plates, through ply panels, and into end stakes.

Make triangular corner seats with scrap wood cleats fastened underneath to fit the edges of the plywood sides. Glue and nail the seats to the ply and corner stakes, and sand the seat—the edge facing into the box especially. Finish seat and box with paint or outdoor varnish to bind in any potential splinters.

As an additional antisplinter measure, around the upper edge of all four sides, fasten wood molding or plastic bumper material from a boating-supply store (or collect three or four old bicycle tires; cut in half, snip sidewalls every few inches and staple around ply). You can install the sides around a second sheet of ply (with an inch trimmed off one end and one side) laid on the ground if you want to be able to shovel out the sand easily. There is little point of fastening bottom to sides.

Be sure you use outdoor-glued plywood that is smooth and splinter free, "finished-one-side" for the upper surface of the bottom sheet and inner surface of the sides—where kids will scoot around and might get splinters. Before beginning construction it is best to seal both sides of your plywood with a clear, weatherproofing finish to bind in splinters and retard decay.

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