Sweet little project for a sweet little girl

Sofía loves digging in the dirt so much that she’s destroying my planters. That girl needs a sandbox!

… So look what I came up with in my spare time!

I like those unexpected curves under the canopy. Those beams are actually a last-minute salvage! I had cut them and waterproofed them previously, but didn’t like the curve I got, so they were going to be discarded. But the canopy sagged in the middle without rafters for support, so – surprise! – I had the perfect-sized boards already on hand! And now that curve adds a little interesting detail. But -shhhh!- don’t tell anyone it wasn’t intentional. :)

I even mitered the canopy corners and double stitched all the seams. I’m particularly happy that I chose finials instead of regular knobs.

This was a great project! It was as easy as I had hoped: the whole thing could have gone together in one morning if I had had all my stuff together. And if I was as good with a miter saw as my carpenter friend is. It’s always so gratifying to work on something simple and fun that goes together exactly as it was supposed to, isn’t it?

I admit, I’m cheating a little bit posting it here because it’s not finished yet. I have to install canopy grommets for the finials to slot into (right now they’re just poking through canvas), and maybe tack a little bit of velcro on the edges where the canopy tends to want to pull away. I’m thinking I should also give the canvas a coat of polyurethane… or something?… to help with weatherproofing? (Anyone know?)

I still have to line the edges of the box with plastic and sew a canvas sand cover for when it’s not in use (which will need hooks and grommets and its own set of hardware, sigh). AND I still have to yank all the (horrible! cursed!) ivy out of the corner in the yard where the sandbox will be stationed, and -of course- fill the box part with sand.

Which turns out to be astonishingly expensive, actually! You can get construction sand for like $30 but it tends to be full of bits of glass and metal (or so I’m told), so you’re supposed to get “play sand” which is $4/bag. And since each bag is only 1/2 a cubic foot and I need half a cubic yard, I think all that sand – 24 bags worth, if I’m doing that right? – is going to cost close to $100. Luckily I got 2 bags from a friend and 6 bags off Freecycle (or I will have by tomorrow), so that helps by about 30%.

I don’t think I saved any money – the lumber was about $70, and I know you can get plastic sandboxes for that price. But there are several advantages in any case:

– I got to choose my own design. And it has arches, which I love.
– It is much bigger than a $70 plastic one, so you can really get in there with two or three kids.
– it has a cute sun canopy and (will have) a matching sand cover.
– it has actual benches you can sit on.
– nothing beats the thrill of watching your child clambering delightedly all over something you yourself made just for him or her.

I had in mind another quite more complicated design with integrated toy-storage benches and movable partitions for water buckets … but then remembered that, hey! I do have other things to do! And that all Sofía really cares about is the dirt.

8 Responses to “Sweet little project for a sweet little girl”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    you continue to amaze me. that is so cute. when she outgrows the sand part, you can put sheet sides on it and play “castle”!

  2. diana Says:

    Oh my gosh Mama that is such a good idea!!!

  3. Ann Says:

    That’s adorable!! And converting it to a castle down the road..genius!

    Real quick thought on the fabric canopy. You asked about polyurethane-ing it….probably a good idea. My immediate worry was Mildew growth on the fabric. but using a spray sealant (like shoe water-proof-er…. do they make spray polyurethane?) would probably help keep that from happening.

    Awesome job!!

  4. diana Says:

    Hey Ann, you know what they used to use to make raincoats and oilcloth? Boiled linseed oil! They used to paint on several coats to get a flexible, waterproof fabric. I just *have* the poly already… and didn’t want to make a trip to the hardware store. But with all these projects I’m bound to go again soon!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Just a thought, but did you put a layer of plastic or something down before upending the sandbags? Easier to keep sand near, if not in, the sandbox.
    also, if near the house, maybe lay a strip of rubber matting with strips laid on the ground all around the box to take sand off shoes (or feet) before tracking into the house…
    probably will need to hang a towel for foot-wiping by the back door and train Sofia to wipe her feet before entering…

  6. Anonymous Says:

    left comments and sites on your e-mail for Nik-Wax. never used it but it is said to work for this kind of project.

  7. Aunt Nancy Says:

    Absolutely ADORABLE!! And YOU, dear woman, are simply AMAZING! Sofia is going to LOVE being able to have her own “dirt” to play in!

  8. Ann Says:

    Boiled linseed oil? Holey Moley…wonder how they figured that one out??!! very cool, and useful bit of info….seriously: are you taking notes for that inevitable book you’ll be authoring?

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