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Large Covered Sandbox

April 20, 2010 |
posted by Ana White
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Provide endless hours of play under shade with this easy to build sandbox. Featuring a large play area and canopy, this sandbox will bring all the fun of the beach to your back yard.

Large Covered Sandbox

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About Project

Author Notes: 


Large Covered Sandbox
78" x 78" x 60"

Materials and Tools

Shopping List: 

4 – 2×8 Boards (8′ Length) 

4 – 1×3 Boards (8′ Length) 
4 – 2×2 Boards (8′ Length) 
4 – 1×4 Boards (8′ Length)
2 inch screws
2 1/2 inch screws
3 inch screws
1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws
2 1/2 inch pocket hole screws
wood glue
wood filler
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
circular saw
staple gun

Cut List

Cut List: 

2 – 2×8 Boards @ 76″ (Sandbox Sides) 

2 – 2×8 Boards @ 73″ (Sandbox Sides) 
2 – 1×3 Boards @ 73″ (Top Trim) 
2 – 1×3 Boards @ 78″ (Top Trim) 
4 – 2×2 Boards @ 67 1/2″ (Canopy Posts) 
2 – 1×4 Boards @ 73″ (Canopy Sides) 
2 – 1×4 Boards @ 74 1/2″ (Canopy Sides) 
4 – 1×4 @ 5 3/4″ (Corner Bracing for Canopy Top, ends mitered at 45 degrees)

General Instructions

General Instructions. Cut your boards and sand and paint as desired, sealing all edges with an exterior sealant. Make sure the finish is appropriate for child use. As you build, check for square after each step. Also check for level. Predrill and countersink your screws. Use necessary safety precautions and equipment.

Step 1

Large Covered Sandbox

Dig. That’s right. Dig. Rake, whatever you need to do, create a level surface for your sandbox. Then build the sandbox as shown above, using 3″ screws to fasten the corners. Predrill and countersink your screw holes. Level the sandbox by using rocks as shims or digging down high points.

Step 2

Large Covered Sandbox

Trim. Fasten the top trim to the LONGER sides, as shown above. Use the 2″ screws. Keep inside edges flush.

Step 3

Large Covered Sandbox

Trim. Finish the trim, as shown above, screwing in place using 2″ screws. Notice how this trim overlaps the joint on the sandbox sides? Make sure you fasten to both sides of the sandbox sides to reinforce the joint.

Step 4

Large Covered Sandbox

Canopy Posts. The canopy posts actually act as corner blocking to strengthen your corners. Be sure to screw the corners to both pieces of the sides, two screws per side, for a total of 8 screws per corner.

Step 5

Large Covered Sandbox

Canopy Sides. Start by fastening the shorter canopy sides to the canopy posts, keep end and top edges flush. Use the 2″ screws. Then fasten the longer canopy sides, top and end edges will fit flush, as shown above.

Step 6

Large Covered Sandbox

Canopy Corners. To keep the top straight, add corner blocking as shown above. Make sure your canopy is square before attaching the blocking.

Finishing Instructions

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Wow! What perfect timing. I

Wow! What perfect timing. I already have the sandpit, 4 big railway sleepers, I'll have to adopt the canopy to fit, but I was just thinking this weekend we need one to keep the sun off. We are in sunny Australia and the coolest it gets here in Winter is 0deg C, but the middle of the day is still pleasent.

posted by Kristine (not verified) | on Tue, 2010-04-20 23:03

My husband and I were JUST

My husband and I were JUST looking at this in the magazine and were going to try to build it! Thanks for saving us the time! Was wondering if anyone has any ideas as to ways to make a roll up , moveable side flap- so that it can be used as a sun shade depending on where the sun hits (know what I mean?)

posted by Russ and Amy (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 03:08

How would you build a cover

How would you build a cover to keep cats and other critters out of the sand when not in use? Cause that would make yours WAAAY cooler than the PB one, but the canopy posts could make it tricky.

posted by Chris (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 03:13

Just a thought, putting in

Just a thought, putting in little triangles in each corner for seats amps up the awesome just a bit. We built a much less fancy box last year and sunk in little seats and it makes it much more fun for mom and dad to play along.

posted by Amanda (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 03:55

Do you know that my looking

Do you know that my looking for THIS sandbox is what brought me to your blog last week!! Ahh.. it's like you read my mind/google and made it appear!

posted by Rachel McPhillips (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 04:05

Little corner seats that

Little corner seats that someone else mentioned are a great idea. The box my father built my brother and I ages ago had the same and as we got older we could still play in the sand without being completely in it.
Also, I believe it helps to have some type of plastic or gardening paper (or whatever you prefer) under the box to keep the sand as sand and not muddy sand after a couple rainstorms.

posted by Heather Bee (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 06:15

I'm in love! THANKS! I agree

I'm in love! THANKS! I agree a cover would be awesome. So the sand doesn't get mucky and dirty with leaves and bugs, etc. We'll have to experiment with that a little ourselves. =)

posted by JackieSue (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 07:43

Click on Ana's link to Bob

Click on Ana's link to Bob Villa and there is an example for a cover that you could modify.

posted by Tara M (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 07:57

I just have one little thing

I just have one little thing to add from experience..do NOT buy the colored sand. It's a mess and sometimes the colors just dont come out of anything. At least I was at my sisters house when we tried this HAAAA :D

posted by Linda (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 08:08

Any ideas on how to build a

Any ideas on how to build a cover? We have lots of cats in our neighborhood!


posted by Crunchy Clean (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 08:15

Oh my gosh, I am so excited

Oh my gosh, I am so excited you did this....when I requested it a while back I thought you would be too busy to do plans for it....thank you thank you thank you! now hopefully i can find a friend that knows a thing or two about carpentry so I can make this my first official project!!! I hope I will have a nice finished project to show off to you within the next monthhhhh !! Thank you again!!!!
*Kelly Tillotson

posted by Kelly Tillotson (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 08:17

Looks lovely!! For those

Looks lovely!!

For those asking for covers, we have a similar sandbox under the playstructure that came with our house and found an online retailer selling tarps that work well. You could probably make one yourself, too. You just buy a big enough tarp and cut/hem the corners to fit around the posts. Then you can buy these snaps that nail one part onto the sandbox side and one part is clamped onto the tarp hem and the whole thing snaps down with 4-5 snaps on each side depending on size. Snap screw studs. You could probably do something similar to make to top-tarp moveable. But honestly if you're making the top tarp I'd just cut the material long enough on each side to hang down and then attach some ties so you can roll it up and tie it high/medium/low. Maybe put a dowel rod in the hem so it holds a nice solid line.

We put the slightly waterproof liner under our sand to keep the mud/bugs/growth out but it does make the sand retain more moisture, too.

posted by Julie (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 08:26

Serendipity! My husband and

Serendipity! My husband and I were talking LAST NIGHT about building a sand box for our lil' guy's birthday coming up next month! We wanted to have a Dino Dig party, and thought it would be fun to have a place to dig up dino 'bones' and 'eggs'. Perfect!!! Thank you, Ana!!
xo Jenny

posted by Jenny Hillman (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 08:28

My mom built me a sandbox 25+

My mom built me a sandbox 25+ years ago! It had triangle like seats on each of the 4 corners and we loved them! I hope to someday build this...with the seats :)

posted by The Oxford Family (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 08:30

Check your local hardware

Check your local hardware stores for replacement screen for windows and doors. Look for the extra heavy duty kind which is sometimes labeled as UV protector. This is simply thicker and heavier duty, but reflects more UV rays. Add grommets and/or snaps like Julie said and you have your sun shade for the top or sides. We rolled the side shades around dowels and used cord for mini blinds as pulls to roll them up out of the way. And 'Yes' we kept the cords wrapped higher than the kids could reach.

posted by todddemars (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 09:15

Looks really nice. I like the

Looks really nice. I like the sun cover. It could use a cover for the sand to keep out the cat poop, though!

posted by Kent (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 09:25

Love this. you guys had same

Love this. you guys had same thoughts as me - I'd say use that black landscaping fabric for the bottom. love the triangle seat ideas, or you could do straight benches along opposite sides and then you'd have a much easier time creating a cover for it. I wish I had a house to build this, lol.

posted by Rae (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 09:33

We built a sandbox a few

We built a sandbox a few years ago, without the canopy, tho we did make seats on each corner with triangle pieces. We also used black landscaping fabric on the bottom to keep out weeds- it works amazingly well!

posted by Mary (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 09:46

How do you keep bugs out? Or

How do you keep bugs out? Or is that a stupid question? I remember being terrified of the sand box as a kid because it always had pincher bugs in it. Yes, that's the scientfic name, pincher bugs ;)

posted by Renanda (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 11:08

I love it too. The link to

I love it too. The link to the pottery barn pictures shows a canvas fabric laid across the top of the sandbox that ties at each corner which would work quite well to keep out the animals. I've seen covers similar to the one on Bob Dila's site made of screen instead of lattice. I think the lattice is MUCH prettier. His is for a smaller sandbox, so if making one this big...just to make it easier to handle, maybe making two half-sized frames with lattice would be easier...plus, you wouldn't have to worry about whether you could angle it in to fit it under and between the canopy posts.

The fabric solution looks nice and easy though...although I'd probably use a solid dark red canvas or something so that animal footprints (and child footprints) don't make it so dirty instead of the one they show with white stripes.

I'm wondering if for the fabric one, you could make a pocket, kind of like you would for a curtain rod on one edge, and insert some kind of pole (like PVC), and then when you take it off, you could roll it up around the pole, so it could lean against the house or something while it's off...or even be somehow permanently attached so that when the kids are done playing for the day, they can just roll the cover back out.

Ana, I absolutely LOVE your plans and haven't made anything yet, but I am dreaming of several projects that I will be trying really soon.

Thanks so much for creating these.

posted by Danielle (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 17:59

dear Sand-Play in the Box,I

dear Sand-Play in the Box,
I love this idea! sounds like several have great input for more ideas to go along with too.
Thinking of fun in the box

posted by gkey (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-04-21 19:47

This is great! I was just

This is great! I was just thinking about building a sandbox for my son. Sadly we have a shared yard though and his has to be moveable, so I will be taking a look at these plans and then drawing up something smaller for us!


posted by satakieli (not verified) | on Fri, 2010-04-23 03:31

When my DH built us a play

When my DH built us a play fort (aka Fort Kirk which resembles Fort Knox)he added a fence around with a swinging gate/door to keep the critters out (aka neighborhood cats). It works great and eve the little ones can open the gate to enter and exit.

posted by famr_4evr (not verified) | on Fri, 2010-04-23 07:26

Thank you so much for

Thank you so much for creating and sharing these plans. I'm eager to start first thing tomorrow... I'll be heading to Lowes right after I drop my oldest at school!! Any chance you're working on a cover... lots of out door cats in our neighborhood. TY TY

posted by Channyne \ˈsha-nən\ (not verified) | on Tue, 2010-04-27 00:24

I really like this design. I

I really like this design. I have not made it yet, but it is soon to be on my list.

I was just thinking, with few modifications, I could make the top canopy raise and lower, then it could be a sun cover as well as a cover over the sand to keep stuff out when not in play. Should not be too difficult and it would be really cool that way!

posted by Kidzaplenty (not verified) | on Sat, 2010-05-01 23:19

Thanks you solve my problem

Thanks you solve my problem very helpful to me........
Regards-Custom Gates

posted by chum (not verified) | on Fri, 2010-05-07 05:47

Thanks for this informative

Thanks for this informative article and i learn about it..
Regards- church doors.

posted by Tigeeson (not verified) | on Fri, 2010-05-07 06:52

How much did this cost about?

How much did this cost about? Also, where did you find a canopy cover for it? What about a cover for over the sand to keep animals out when not in play? Thanks!!

posted by Kristi (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-07-07 18:10

Has anyone made this with a

Has anyone made this with a bottom? We will have this on cement slab, so I think a bottom will be necessary. I would also like to make the finishing boards on top bigger to be used as seats, rather than putting in corners. I guess I would need some additional supports underneath, then? Or Maybe make the whole thing a tad longer and add hinged seats that run the width of the box to serve as a combo seat and toy box. Can't wait to experiment!

posted by Brooke (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-08-16 06:22

hey kristi- the picture of

hey kristi- the picture of the navy blue sandbox with the little boy is actually the sandbox we made using anna's plans. the total cost of EVERYTHING {sand, cover material, ribbon etc.} was $167. A similar sandbox that PB sells when you factor in shipping is about $700....so a great savings...and you can customize it however you want! Thanks, again Ana!


posted by kelly tillotson (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-09-01 10:35

Kelly, thanks so much for

Kelly, thanks so much for adding your blog link! I LOVE your sandbox! :)

posted by Ana White (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-09-01 11:57

My husband and I built this

My husband and I built this sandbox as our first project. We had to adjust the length to be 8x4 instead of what the plans called for. The twins love it! Partly because we painted it an iced cranberry color.

posted by Megan Carter (not verified) | on Sun, 2010-10-03 11:58

I love this! I am just

I love this! I am just wondering if the canvas top sags under the weight of rainwater, and mildews?? Is there a way to arch it so rainwater runs off?

posted by Nicole (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-10-11 22:12

Easy Cover Idea to keep out cats, sticks, & leaves

Hi all,

My husband built a sandbox for our little ones, but we definitely have a neighborhood cat so we wanted it to be covered. We wanted the cover to be something our 4 year old could remove & replace by himself--my husband used window screen material to make a cover--on one side of the sandbox, he tacked the material down well (he started with staples but had to go back & add roofing tacks to secure it), then on the opposite side of the sandbox, he draped the window screen material to hang over the side of the sandbox. To that end of the material, he attached a 1"x1"x4' board (he bought them as stakes but you could cut down a board as needed) and secured the window screen material to that as well. Our 4 year old can pull the piece of wood back & throw it to the side of the sandbox, then when it's time to come inside, he can replace it. It has also kept out leaves & sticks since our sandbox is under a tree. We wanted it to be something the little ones could handle themselves to make them responsible for helping keep the cats out of the sandbox. It does not attach to the sandbox on the 2 other sides, but the weight of the wooden stake makes the material taut & keeps animals from getting inside the sandbox.

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Sun, 2011-06-12 22:04


That is an excellent base for a small storage shed! I could see putting in floor joists and going from there! My wheels are turning!

posted by Rebekah (not verified) | on Thu, 2011-06-30 10:15

I too would like to see plan for a a cover

I'd would love to see some sort of cover, possibly something that would be hinged fold accordian style over top of a sand toy storage box : ).That would be awesome!

posted by Marita (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-07-15 16:34

I can't wait to start on this

I can't wait to start on this project! My one question/concern is that the canopy posts on the cut list call for 4@ 671/2" but the entire box height is supposed to be 60", am I missing something ?...

Thank you!

PS- thank you for making projects easy enough for me so that I don't have to ask my husband for help :-)

posted by Stephanie (not verified) | on Mon, 2012-05-07 09:13

Combination of both

I love your other design with seats that fold down to make the cover. Is there a way to combine these 2 designs. I have a friend with a 3yr old that can't play outside for long because his heart medication makes him sick if he gets too much sunshine. This would be a great birthday present for him if I could combine the lid benches with the canopy.

posted by Kandis (not verified) | on Sun, 2012-08-12 13:18

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