Sand Box with Built-In Seats

Submitted by Lady Goats on Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:59
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Everyone with a sand box knows that lids are a necessity. But double-duty lids are crazy awesome, especially if they convert to a seat! This easy to build sandbox with built-in seats is a reader favorite and has been built thousands of times.

For more awesome projects (or to leave some love if you've built this) visit my blog at

photo of stained wood sandbox with fold over cover that converts to seats

It's a flat deck when closed, a sandbox with built-in seats when open!  We love this simple sandbox plan by Lady Goats!

Before you get building, please take a second to read through our Outdoor Wood Finishing Secrets - there's also information on selecting wood - so that you sandbox lasts through all your children.

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Sand Box with built in seats

dimensions of the sandbox diagram
47 1/2" W x 47 1/2" D x 7 1/2" H


Shopping List
  • 2 - 1 x 8 @ 8 Feet Long
  • 6 - 1 x 4 @ 8 Feet Long
  • 1 - 2 x 4 @ 8 or Stud Length

You will also need:

  • 4 sets of exterior grade hinges
  • Rope OR 4 exterior grade handles (search "gate pull" or "gate handle")
Common Materials
Cut List

(a) 2 - 1 x 8 @ 47 1/2" - long sides of box

(b) 2 - 1 x 8 @ 46" - short sides of box

(c) 12 - 1 x 4 @ 47 1/2" - top planks

(d) 4 - 2 x 4 @ 7 1/2" - arm rests

(e) 4 - 2 x 4 @ 12 1/2" - back support/handle

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Miter Saw
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Create a basic box, insetting the short sides as shown above. You can either use pocket holes or pre-drill through the long sides and use 1 1/4" screws.

Step 2

Screw in two planks on each side, countersinking your screws through the top. Space the boards 1/2" apart

Step 3

Create what will become the seat. Screw the 1 x 4 boards (1/2" apart) onto the 2 x 4 arm rests (d). Make sure that the 2 x 4s are at least 1" inset from the edge to allow for them to fold into the box nicely. (you'll be making two of these)

Step 4

I have NO idea how to add hinges in sketch-up, but attach the seat that you made in step 3 to the plank you screwed in in step 2. I found it easier to attach the hinge to the seat (on the side opposite the arm rests) and THEN attach it to the screwed-in plank. Make sure to space them 1/2" apart.

Step 5

Step 6

Attach your second set of hinges to the seat back, on the opposite side of the 2 x 4s, and then attach to the seat (easy to do with the seat "up"). Make sure to space the 1/2" apart.


Linda Byron

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 00:28

Hi I made this for my great niece as a Christmas present as she lives on a farm a long way from any beach. I converted it to metric and made a cutting list based on the wood lengths etc in South Africa. As it was going onto a covered veranda I stapled 100 micron black plastic at the base to keep the sand in if it was moved. It is great design and really simple to make. If anyone in SA would like the cutting list they can just contact me. Wood cost about R1500.


Mon, 04/27/2015 - 11:21

So I just finished building this and followed the plans exactly. And yet my sandbox will not close! The two sides folded down are about an inch and a half too long total (49" together vs the 47.5" sides), so one lays on top of the other.
I checked my spacing and a couple of the planks have a little bit more than 1/2" between but definitely not enough to account for an inch and a half total. I am at a loss. Has anyone had this problem or is able to suggest a remedy?


Tue, 04/28/2015 - 12:28

So the plans do not mention that you should check the 1x4's to make sure they are true 3.5" length. I discovered this after reading through the comments, which thankfully allowed me to figure out a solution. I ended up closing the gaps between the non-hinged planks to 1/4 inch instead of 1/2 inch, which gave me the extra inch and a half I needed to close the top.
Rookie mistake, I know, but hopefully other newbies who want to take on this project will find this comment and avoid the same mistake.


Wed, 05/27/2015 - 15:00

These are great. I'm considering putting something equivalent to two of these back to back in my side yard, one for a sandbox and the other to hold a small splash pool, or maybe lined with plastic to fill on occasion this summer to play water games in.

I've got two questions.
1. how much space would be needed between the two back to back boxes to have both sets of seats open?

2. How strong are the top covers of these boxes? Since its my side yard I would still have people coming through that may need to walk over the closed tops to do service. Would they need reinforced?


Fri, 05/29/2015 - 20:53

if you check your plans you have 47.5 in. and you have 12 1x4's, that would be 48in. then you have too have a half in between each board which is another 5.5 inches which makes the total 53.5 in.

Lady Goats

Wed, 03/16/2016 - 12:09

Hey everyone! Sorry for not being here to help out (and thanks everyone who's chimed in to help out your fellow builder). I used to get notification emails when comments were posted, so I could come help out. Apparently those aren't sent out anymore, so if you have an urgent question, please email me at I'll be happy to help! :-)


Thu, 08/13/2020 - 08:04

in the process of building this. Wasnt sure what wood to use but went with fir. also went with a weed fabric (2 layers) at the bottom as this will sit on dirt. all in all, materials cost about $200. and thats with 4 bags of sand (50lb) and i think i maybe need 1-2 more. im wondering if i picked too expensive materials and should have just used poplar or pine, but was worried it wouldnt do well outside.


Mon, 05/24/2021 - 08:27

How much sand would you say this requires? Thanks! Working on mine now!


Wed, 01/19/2022 - 15:46

First off, I have an architecture degree, so I gotta give kudos to using sketch up to model it! Brings back college memories lol. Loved this idea when I saw it. In fact, from seeing the first image, I got inspired to create the same environment so I recently worked with a turf installer build a play area in the backyard for the kids, and then I built this box and painted it white. I used 2x4s though, so it's a bit stockier, but I wanted it to be really sturdy because my little rascals abuse their toys lol.

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