Introduction: The Free Things Box

About: Tinkerer from childhood on. After my retirement, together with my wife, fully committed to creative production. I prefer simple solutions for non-existing problems.
In this project I show you how to make a strong, vandalism- and weatherproof but elegant designed Free Things Box. I made a building plan with all sizes, an instruction video and photo's to explain the different steps. It can be made in a day. Depending on the costs of materials, the Free Things Box is made for about 50 dollar. 

                                                                          The Movie

The Free Things Box is a freebie box in the front yard of the house for recycling small, still useful objects. Many people have a lot of stuff that's still in good order and don't' want to throw it away. The Free Things Box (FTB) is a raised box on 4 legs that contains small gifts for people living in the same street or neighborhood. You can arrange with residents of the street that they can also put freebies in the box. This idea is not new. In the US the 'give away' culture is more common than in Europe. There are Little Free Libraries (book vitrines in front of the house) and the Free Liberty Box. More people become aware to keep things out of the trash and from the landfill. Repair Café's are also participating in this change of mindset, to give things a longer life.
The front side of the Free Things Box has a window for a quick look. The opening of the box is at the top side. A sloping lid can be closed at night time to avoid unwanted guests. Because the FTB is near the house you can keep an eye on it. The system is easy, first come first served with no selection who gets things.
There are 3 rules:
- Only open during daytime
- Take only things you can use
- Take 1 thing at a time.

Step 1: The Building Plan

The bottom, the 2 sides and the backside are cut out of a 1.2 mm or 0.5 inch thick multiplex board. The size of that board is 61 cm by 122 cm or 2 foot by 4 foot. With measurements in the building plan can draw it on the board. Cut the parts out and sand the end face. In the video you saw that the bottom is 0.5 cm or 0.2 inch higher than the sides. This creates a drip edge for the rain. The construction of the bottom, sides and back is easy. Only 2 things; use construction glue and put small nails in to keep the parts in place before pre-drilling and screwing in.

Step 2: The Legs

The legs are made of impregnated wood. The cross section is 6.5 cm by 4.5 cm or 1.77 inch by 2.55 inch. The front legs are 120 cm or 47.2 inch, the back legs 150 cm or 59 inch.  Attaching the legs to the box is a precise job. Use a level and clamps. Between the box and the legs I used selfmade round spacers from 16 mm or 0.62 inch thick and 3 cm or 1.2 inch diameter. Spacers give the impression that  the box is floating between the legs. This is just an esthetic choice.

Step 3: The Lid, the Hinge, the Top and the Window

For the front, the lid, and the sign I used beech wood. The beech shelf is 16 mm or 0.63 inch thick, 30 cm or 1 foot wide and 4 foot long. The lid is with a piano hinge connected to the sign part above. The front part has a window. To make the square hole of 14 cm or 5.5 inch wide and 18 cm or 7 inch high you have to drill first the corners, after you can use a jig saw. On the inside a plexiglass piece of 5 mm or 0.2 inch thick is mounted with aluminium strips. The top part (sign) has a frame that connects this to the box.

Step 4: The Information Sign

To protect the sign for rain a small roof is made on top. For the information sign I used a foto color print in format A4. Content and lay-out is to everybody's taste. On top of the sign, plexiglass in an aluminium frame. This gives the possebility to change the sign. It is important to know quickly what the box is about  and how it works. I have to do some experiments with that. Finally a cross is nailed under the legs. This to avoid that the Free Things Box can to easily be pulled from the ground.  

Step 5: The Free Things Box in the Front Yard

When the box is ready, the moment has come to entrust it to the ground and the elements. First we have to dig a hole of 40 cm or 15 inch deep. It's important to level more times by filling the hole with soil. Now the moment is there to fill the box with things. After a short walk through the house, searching in cabinets and saying goodby, the first objects found a new destination. It's good to have a variety on things in the box. That can be tools, electronics, books, toys, clothes, etc. Kids are not shy to open the box, so surprise them.

Instructables Green Design Contest

Third Prize in the
Instructables Green Design Contest