This Looks Like A Boring Orange Box, But Look What It Turns Into When It Opens Up

Natalie, of the blog Utah's Adventure Family, had fond memories of growing up with her childhood sandbox. Her own children had outgrown the small sandbox below their play set, but her two-year-old still loved the soothing feeling of hours spent just playing in the sand. 

But Natalie not only wanted a bigger sandbox, she wanted one with a lid to keep out the, ahem, "presents" the neighbor cats were leaving in the sandbox. She also wanted a perch for mom and dad to hang out with the kids and supervise playtime, maybe take a few cute sandbox photos while the little ones played. So she came up with an absolutely brilliant design.

She has a handy list of the tools and materials needed for the project:

"Tools you’ll need:

A “chop” saw or miter saw
A power drill with 1/8″ bit and Phillips head bit

Wood you’ll need:

11:  2×6 boards that are 10 feet long
4: 2×6 boards that are 8 feet long
4: 2×4 boards that are 8 feet long (see comments below. I was able to use some scraps I had laying around)”

“Hardware you’ll need:

4: 4 inch T-hinges (pictured below)
4: 11 inch regular hinges (pictured below)
125 (or so): 2.5 inch wood screws
20 (or so): 1 inch wood screws if your hinges don’t come with screws
4: handles
1-2: gallons of Deckover or other exterior wood paint"

She lists her measurements:

"4 lengths of 30 inches (so measure 30″, chop, repeat, should give you 4 from the stacked boards). You’ll use these to support the back of the bench.
4 lengths of 14.5 inches (so measure 14.5″, chop, repeat should give you 4). You’ll use these as “armrests” on the bench.”

“Using the third 2×4, cut four 11 inch pieces. You’ll use these as corner supports.”


Next, she painted the boards, opting for a warm brown deck-over color. 

Next, she lays out her instructions for assembling the box:

"For this step you’ll need 4 of the 5 foot lengths, all 4 of the 8 foot lengths, the 11 inch 2x4s, and some 2.5 inch screws. On a flat surface, stand up one of the 8 foot lengths on it’s [sic] edge. Place one of the 5 foot lengths at the end so that your screw will go through the five foot length into the end of the 8 foot length. Drill two guide holes with the 1/8 inch bit. (If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of splitting the end board as you are working very near the end). Then use 2 screws to secure the boards. Repeat this process on each of the corners until you have built the bottom level of the box. Remember: screws go through the 5 footer into the ends of the 8 footer."

"When the 2 levels are stacked, place one of the 11 inch 2×4’s in each corner standing on end. These boards will secure the 2 layers together. I choose to alternate them as I went around clockwise. So in corner 1, the flat side of the 2×4 goes against the 5 footer; in corner 2 the flat side goes against the 8 footer; in corner 3 the flat side goes back against the other 5 footer, and in corner 4 the flat side goes against the other 8 footer (think rotational symmetry rather than mirror symmetry). I’m not sure this matters, so don’t get hung up on it– it certainly won’t show in the final product."

She drilled holes where needed and screwed the sandbox tightly together, making sure it was snug enough to hold the sand.

The small boards in the corners help prevent sand from escaping through the cracks.

She then has directions for assembling the bench:

"To assemble the 2 seats, you need 6 of the remaining 5 footers and the 2 armrests. Lay the armrests nearly 5 feet apart with the top side down (this only matters if you beveled them). Place three of the 2x6s across them. Square the 2x6s so all the ends are even. Measure in 3 inches from each end and draw a light pencil line. Then carefully adjust the armrest underneath until the board is centered on the line. I measured in 1 inch from the “back” of the seat (the opposite of the beveled end) so the armrests would look uniform, but you could eyeball it and be fine. Finally use 6 of the 2.5 inch screws (2 on each board) to secure the armrest on each end. Place the screws slightly off each side of the line so they are not all in an exact line, which may split the wood. Repeat this process for both ends, and then for the second seat."

The seat back comes together from the two 2x4 boards with supports about 18 inches apart.

Now it's on to the fun part of assembling the bench/cover combination:

"First, lay the seat back with the long 2 by fours underneath exactly as they were at the end of Step 4. Then lay the seat on top of the 2x4s snugly against the other 2x6s with the armrests up. Make sure everything is aligned. If you beveled the armrests so there is a front, the front should go to the outside near the end of the 2x4s. Finally, lay the T-hinge with the square end on the seat and the triangular end on the back and attach with the screws provided (if no screws came with your hinge, use 1 inch screws). Make sure that the hinge is positioned so that the seat folds UP [sic] toward you and away from the 2x4s on the seat back. Repeat this step with the other seat and back."


This is how it should look when the seat is folded up.

She cautions to first make sure that the ground for the sandbox is level so the box doesn't tilt or wear unevenly. She then began the relatively easy process of installing the sandbox in its new home.

When it's shut, it blends in perfectly with the yard.

It doesn't take up too much room.

But it's when the sandbox is open for business that it really shines.

First subject enters the sandbox.

Once the handles are attached and the box is filled with sand and toys, it's finished. What a fun mini-beach day right in the backyard.

Finishing Touches | Click Here For Instructions On A DIY Sandbox And Bench

This kid approves.

Keeps Out Debris And Cats | Click Here For Instructions On A DIY Sandbox And Bench

Credit: Utah's Adventure Family

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