Thursday, April 28, 2016

DIY Covered Sandbox with Built In Bench

How to build a covered sandbox with bench seats

Ever see the damage a gofer can do to a yard?  My kids can one up it.

You see we live in Florida.  Yards here are made of sand.  Officially it's called builders sand but whatever you call it, my kids seem intent on building sandcastles with it.

Well today is the day that I give them their very own sandbox.  Granted it'll not be as large as my yard, but it will have to do.

DIY Covered Sandbox with a Built in Bench


5 - 1x4 furring strips (actual furring strips are 3-3/8" wide not 3-1/2" as a normal 1x4 would be.)

2 - 2x8s

1 - 2x2 (If you have the ability to rip material on a table saw then you can use the waste from the 2x8s instead of purchasing this.)

2 sets of 3" strap hinges

1 Box of 3" screws

1 Box of 1-1/2" screws

6 Bags of Play Sand

Cut List

2 - 2x8 base pieces @ 48"

2 - 2x8 base pieces @ 31-3/8"

9 - top cover slats @ 3-3/8" x 48"

2 - 2x2 seat back bench cross members @ 18"

2 -  2x2 seat bench cross members @ 11"

Sandbox with flip top lid

Step 1

Cut the 2x8s the length.

Step 2

Drill pilot holes.  I'm using a countersink drill bit however, that is not necessary.  The screws will naturally sink below the surface of the wood anyway.  This just makes them a little neater in appearance.

Step 3

Lay all four sides of the sandbox on a flat work surface.  I used the floor of my garage.  Drive 3" screws at all four corners.

Step 4

Attach the three slats that will make up the first segment of the top cover / bench seat.  Don't forget to flush the ends of the boards with the side of the box.

Use 1/2" spacers between each of the slats to ensure equal spacing between them without the hassle of measuring each one on both sides.

We are aiming for simple and easy here, remember.

Step 5

Now it is time for the three top slats that will comprise the second segment of the top / bench seat.

Use spacers and lay out all three of them at the same time.  Then lay a 2x2 cross member on each side of the slats approxemately 1-3/4" to 2" in from the ends of the slats.

The final measurement on that isn't as important as making sure the cross members are going to clear the inside of the sandboxes frame.

1-1/2" screws will make the grade for this application.

Note:  I cut angles into both ends of each cross member for safety reasons.  Since itty bitty people will be playing around this project, I don't want someone to fall or not look where they are going to be sitting and hurt themselves on blunt corners.

Step 6

Now 3" strap hinges can be used to attach the first and second segments of the top cover.

Step 7

Assemble the third segment of the bench seat.

Step 8

Set the third section aside and flip the second section over onto the first.  Then attach the second set of 3" strap hinges.  Make sure the knuckle of the hinges over hangs the back of the segment by the width of the knuckle.

Step 9

Once both strap hinges are attached place some spacers the same width as the aforementioned knuckles from front to back on top of the second segment.

Make sure they overhang the back so that you can set the third segment down on them.  They will act as ledges to hold the seat back in place long enough for you to flip the hinges up and attach to the third segment.

Covered sandbox with shade canopy


Final Thoughts

If everything came out OK, you should be able to just fold the bench seat down on top of the sandbox creating its cover.

Probably the most common area of frustration may be in getting the correct gap between the second and third segment of the top / bench seat.

If you mess up and they are two close then the seat will not close flat along the top properly.  Two far apart and you will not have enough "meat" to sink one of the screws for the hinges into the boards.

Don't get frustrated.  Simply remove the screws, slide the hinges slightly to compensate and try again.

Although the spacer trick I used works pretty well I found.

The top lid is designed to overhang the base of the sandbox by an inch or a little more.  This eliminates the need for handles and helps keeps kids from pinching their fingers when closing the lid.

If you enjoyed this project, here is another children's project that you may want to check out:

Happy DIY'ing


  1. This looks awesome. I built this over the weekend and it turned out great. I had to use a little bit of wood glue for the bottom seat but not a big issue. I'm wondering what your experience is with things getting inside of the box such as debris or grass clippings and if you have thought about seeing it with a cover of some sort when not in use for an extended period.

  2. Hi - based on your measurements this constructs a 4ft by 3ft box correct?

    Just wondering how you found this was for size with your little ones, mine are 2 (turning) and 5 and that's the exact area i have available.

  3. thanks for the video and instructions, just built it for my kids


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