DIY Kids Outside

DIY Sandbox for around $40 (or less)

Happy spring everybody!! Too bad it’s being dampered by a global pandemic. The only thing keeping us sane at the moment is being able to enjoy the outdoors. We have over three acres so social distancing isn’t difficult, but I know not everyone is as fortunate. My 17 month old loves being outside, and apparently likes playing in the dirt…so I figured it was time for this kid to have her very own DIY Sandbox.

You can go to Target/Walmart/Amazon and pay $50+ to get one of those plastic turtle sandboxes (no hate, I had one as a kid and loved it just the same)… Or you could head on over to your local big box hardware store and (safely) buy some supplies for half that and use your own to hands to make a box that will last forever and be a little friendlier for the environment. Let’s get down to business.


2x8x12 piece of lumber – $12.50

I used pressure treated for durability in outside elements. If you choose a non-treated wood type, just be sure to stain or paint it with exterior paint so it does not rot.

Lowes doesn’t do project cuts, but if you ask them nicely to break up a 12 foot long piece of lumber into three 4-foot sections to fit better in your car they will.

Exterior Wood Screws – $3

I got the 15 pack because I only needed 12 of them. Any exterior screw should work, just make sure they have a length of 3″… even though lumber is specified 2x(whatever) the actual width measurement is more like an inch and a half. This means the screw will go through the first piece and into the piece you are screwing it to by 1.5″ as well. It wont be coming apart anytime soon.

Wood Glue – $5-8

Chances are you might already have some wood glue laying around, but if not its between $5-8 depending on what size you get.

Landscaping fabric – $12+

You can get pretty small quantity rolls for a little over $10 and any box store. We had some laying around so if you know anyone with a yard you can likely just cut and borrow a around 4.5foot x 2.5foot sheet

~2ft x ~4ft sheet of Plywood $12+

Optional – This Tarp $6

Tools you will be using:


Staple gun


The Process

DIY Sandbox

I opted to go with a 4 foot by 2 foot sandbox. This made it pretty simple, just one piece of 2x8x12 lumber was perfect. Make sure your cuts are even and you are good to get assembling. You don’t need a mitre saw, any saw will do.

DIY Sandbox

I pre-drilled the three screw holes on both ends of the 4 ft pieces.. The screws specified they didn’t need to be pre-drilled, however it makes it easier to line things up and make sure you are drilling the holes in straight. As you can see I also measured and marked my board where the perpendicular 2 ft board would meet it to center my screws.

DIY Sandbox

Use your wood glue and spread some on the end of the 2 foot piece, this is the part you are screwing into. The glue just gives it some extra bond. Line the pieces up, and maybe get a buddy to hold them tight together while you screw each of the three screws into place.

DIY Sandbox

Repeat for all four corners. Don’t sweat it if each corner is not completely flush, lumber tends to be warped. Let glue bond, 1 hour should be enough but I was done for the day so I let it go overnight.

DIY Sandbox

You can stop here as far as carpentry work. I had some extra materials and the tools needed to take this a step further so I did.

DIY Sandbox
DIY Sandbox

I had some scrap pressure treated 2×4’s left over from our basement reno so I had the idea to make two corner seats for tiny hiney’s. Just used the mitre saw to cut the lumber at a 45 degree angle so it would fit in each corner of the box. Use nails or screws from the outside to fasten it in place.

DIY Sandbox

Painting or staining your box is not necessary if you used pressure treated lumber. I chose to stain for aesthetic reasons and because we have a gallon of exterior wood stain laying around that is the same color as our house/pool house.

DIY Sandbox

Next you are going to want to cut a piece of landscaping fabric to fit inside your box, mounted on the inside walls. This allows moisture to exit if any gets in, but not the sand. You can measure or eyeball it; the edge doesn’t have to be beautifully straight, it will be covered by sand anyway. I used a staple gun and put in a lot of staples all around the inside edge. Don’t pull the fabric taut, it can rip. Best to keep it a little loose so it has some give when you fill it with sand.

DIY Sandbox

After stapling liberally all the way around I also added a bead of wood glue all the way around above the staples for a second level of protection from sand escaping the box. Allow time to dry.

Congratulations, your box is done. Now it’s time to make it a lid, because we don’t want critters getting inside. Grab your piece of plywood and cut it with your saw to sit flush on the top of the DIY sandbox.

Cut your plywood to fit over the top of the box. Measure the width/length and cut it to fit flush. Feel free to stain or paint it if you are skipping the tarp. Otherwise just throw this tarp over the covered box when it’s going to rain. It probably wont stop all the moisture from getting in, especially if your box is on the ground in a yard. moisture will seep in from below in that case, but it’s not a huge deal. Open up you box on sunny days so it can dry out.

There you go, you are ready for tons of fun in the sun in your new DIY Sandbox!

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