How to Build a Wooden Sandbox for Children

Written by suzanne fyhrie parrott
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A sandbox fulfils a child's natural desire to play in the dirt and encourages imagination, independent play and spending time outdoors. A personal sandbox, compared to public playgrounds, is reasonably free of germs and debris--two benefits well worth the effort.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Materials
  • (4) 2"x10" 6-foot long boards (cedar, pine or synthetic)
  • (2) 2"x10" boards, cut diagonally making four triangle support corners
  • (8) 1"x2" 16-inch long wood stakes
  • Box of four-inch wood (decking) screws, stainless steel or galvanised
  • (16) 2-inch screws, stainless steel or galvanised
  • Garden landscaping fabric 7-foot x 7-foot
  • 36 cubic feet (27 bags) double-washed or play sand
  • Caulk
  • Water-repellent sealer or paint
  • ----------------------------------------
  • Tools
  • Circular saw
  • Shovel
  • Soft mallet or hammer
  • Staple gun with staples, stainless steel or galvanised
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint brush

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    Building 6-foot by 6-foot Sandbox

  1. 1

    Choose a location that drains well after a rain, preferably with a slight slope. Make sure it provides shade from the afternoon sun and is visible to parents' direct line of sight.

  2. 2

    Pre-cut boards for walls and corner supports. Lay out the boards where the box is to be located for accurate measurement.

  3. 3

    Dig a 6-inch deep hole, 6-foot by 6-foot square.

  4. 4

    Face natural curve of each board toward interior of sandbox to prevent warping. Screw together with three 4-inch wood screws at each corner.

  5. 5

    Caulk inside each corner. Let dry.

  6. 6

    Loosely drape landscaping tarp over box. Do not pull tight. Staple to boards.

  7. 7

    Place box in hole, tarp side down. Pound stakes along outside edges of box, two on each side to prevent shifting. Attach with 2-inch screws. Cut off excess stake, flush with the top of the box.

  8. 8

    Place triangle supports flush with the corner edges. Attach with 4-inch screws.

  9. 9

    Sand exposed edges smooth and slightly rounded.

  10. 10

    Apply water sealant or paint. Let dry completely.

  11. 11

    Fill with sand. Fill box half full to leave room for trucks and toys.

Tips and warnings

  • Build a watertight cover to help keep out moisture, debris and animals.
  • Rotate sand from bottom to top to help keep dry--especially if the box is seldom used.
  • Clean sand using large colander, which is a fun job to do with kids.
  • Check sand bags for moisture or leakage before purchase.
  • Replace sand on hot sunny days to keep dry.
  • Cubic feet = length (ft) x width (ft) x height (ft).
  • Consider using synthetic decking wood.
  • Consider a kid-sized sand "table" with stools or chairs; kids play but don't track as much sand inside.
  • Consider adding a seating rail around the sandbox.
  • A larger sandbox allows for friends.
  • Moist sand can harbour bacteria.
  • Don't use plastic ground cover. Rainwater cannot drain and you end up with a muddy mess.

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