My father-in-law can build a house from scratch — I cannot. I can code, photograph and grow my own food but anything resembling construction, be it from wood or Legos, pushes me into uncomfortable territory. Possessing the skill to build a house, and one that will remain standing, is just damn impressive to me. I once built a table which didn't stand so well; Chuck and I burned it the following New Year's lacking firewood. I have a rich history of failed woodworking attempts.

My daughter's original sandbox is tucked away under an overgrown orchard too near the electric fence and made from pressure treated wood, the boogeyman of today's garden, so my wife and I decided it needed replacing and a new home nearer the swing-set.

First, I laid out a rough placement for the sandbox to get an idea of sizing:

new sandbox home

The design is pretty simple: two six foot long sides and two four foot ends of 1"x12" cedar. In the prototype design, the corners are each cut to three inches long but my wife suggested cutting half to four inches and half to three so when joined in the corner they would both extend three inches, great idea. Off to the lumber yard I went, proclaiming my "unhandiness" to everyone I met (why I'm not sure), to purchase some clear cedar to build the sandbox of my daughter's dreams.

I first cut the corners to size:

corners cut

I had to cut one board in half to form the ends. I was using two sawhorses to support the wood but didn't have another to catch the piece being cut. The cutting of the smaller pieces went fine but cutting the bigger piece resulted in failure number one as it hit the driveway:

cracked board

Ugh. I was able to use a screw to bind it up a bit and after some pep-talking from my wife, and lunch, continued. After everything was cut I started the assembly.


I haven't mentioned it yet but it was wicked hot on Sunday and I think this affected my already suspect ability to follow directions and visualize a finished product. After completely screwing the sandbox together I looked at the corners:

mis-assembled corner

Dammit, failure number two — rather than having nice 3"x3" corners I instead installed 4"x2" corners — I hate woodworking. I suppose I could have re-screwed the whole thing but I was hot and wanted to move on to the portion of the job I do like: playing in the dirt.

placed on the ground

I excavated the ground around where the sandbox would go, leveled it with the stakes and filled in some backfill.

excavated and down

After installing the weed liner:

weed liner installed

it was filled with sand and toys:

filled with sand

and the job was done:

swingset and sandbox

My daughter did a prolonged "Sandbox Dance" — all the work was worth it — success!


Even I'm enjoying it.

Categories: gardening  photography 
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