I was asked to build a wood mailbox for a client. There were a couple things it had to do; it needed to have a big magazine chute, and it needed to have a timber finish.
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Step 1: Making Panels for the Box
I started by getting some lengths of treated pine. At my local store they come in lengths that are 70mm or 90mm wide, and 19mm thick.
I measured the boards to the length of the mailbox and cut them on a mitre saw.
Because I wanted the box to be around 130mm deep I needed to join the boards so the box was 2-layers deep. I decided to join the boards using screws because I've always had bad luck using wood glue outdoors, so the best way to join the boards would've been with a pocket hole jig. I don't have a pocket hole jig so I had to improvise.
I drilled centre holes through the height of the boards. This would be tricky, but not impossible with a hand drill. Having a drill press made the job a lot easier.
Using a 9mm bit I drill about 20mm into the board to sink the screw out of sight.
I clamped the boards together (like you would with a pocket hole jig) and screwed them together using 75mm galvanised screws.
The other benefit of joining the boards this way (instead of using pocket holes) is you won't be able to see the screw holes once the box is put together. This'll make sense later.
Step 2: Building the Main Box
Now that I had the 4 walls of the box, I cut about 20mm off the front panel. This is the panel that the postman will see, so it needs a slot.
I used a hand plane to angle the bottom piece of the slot down, away from the inside of the box. This means any rain that hits the front of the box will be angled out of the box, not into it. This is a minor detail that might not have a big impact, but these are the things that make a project look a little more professional.
The top and bottom of the box were made of plywood. This is the only wood in the project that wasn't treated, but it didn't need to be. These panels will be screwed into the solid treated pine in a way that it can't expand with moisture and only the edges will be exposed. I would've used treated plywood, but it was significantly more expensive.
Then the box was screwed together.
That piece that was cut off the front panel earlier was used to create the pivot for the top.
Because the top was opening and pivoting on a corner, the corners needed to be rounded otherwise it wouldn't open.
Then the top was screwed into the pivot and finally the base was screwed in. I used screws for the entire project because I wanted to be able to replace parts in the future. If, in 2 years, the mailbox has deteriorated I can replace the damaged parts. It also allows me to make changes if the client discovers problems after using it for a few weeks.
Step 3: The Roof
Next was the roof. The first job was to create "roof trusses" by cutting angles off some the 70mm x 19mm treated pine from earlier. These were screwed into the top of the roof from inside.
The "shingles" were made from more treated pine, 40mm x 12mm. I cut them a bit longer than the length of the box.
The boards needed to be tapered so they could overlap. To clamp them in place for this operation I used some small screws as bench dogs. These worked way better than I had expected! Then using a hand plane I gave the boards an angle along their length.
The shingles could then be predrilled, and screwed into the roof trusses. The top cap was a piece of treated pine corner moulding.
Step 4: The Magazine Chute
The third part was the magazine chute. For this I used some old pine decking and fence palings I had on hand.
I started by joining 2 boards like I did earlier. Then screwed the pine decking to this to create a U-shaped chute that could be attached to the underside of the main box.
Step 5: Final Touches and Installation
Even though the wood was all treated, there's no harm in adding some extra protection. I gave the whole piece 3 coats of linseed oil. This is a great option for outdoor timber.
The client had an existing post in the ground which I was able to attach the mailbox too. I'll be installing a new timber fence on the property soon, so this was more of a temporary solution.
Using a 90 degree drill bit I could screw some bolts through steel plate.
And there it is! I hope to see more of these being made.