My goal was to set up a sandbox in the yard for my kids. I could have gone out and bought the plastic turtle type of sandbox at Toys R Us but I decided to build something special for my kids. I love boats so my concept started out as a simple boat-shaped sandbox. Before long my idea grew and I decided to build a realistic looking play boat complete with an upper deck and other fun features. The design allows the kids to climb all over it like a mini jungle gym while imagining pirates are attacking.
Step 1: It's Versatile
The design is so versatile you could easily add a slide from the top deck if desired. When the sandbox deck cover is on it makes for a great place to relax and enjoy some ice cold lemonade!
Step 2: A Boat-load of Fun!
The lower deck slides off to expose a large sandbox. With the deck on it keeps the sand dry and keeps the neighbor's cat out! The kids can steer the S.S. FRIENDSHIP from the fly bridge or below deck and peer up through the periscope. There is also a secret escape hatch at the bow. On warm days I attach a hose and transform it into a wet and wild fire boat!
Step 3: Build the Foundation
I used crushed stone underneath to allow for good drainage and I outlined the boat shape with bricks to make a stable and level foundation.
Step 4: The Bow Section
I used treated lumber and slotted exterior grade plywood to build the structure. See the measured drawing included later on. The port holes are simply brass toilet flanges from Lowe's.
Step 5: The Stern Section
Step 6: The Sandbox
The sandbox includes two bench seats that also support the sandbox cover deck. The back deck handles make it easy to slide on and off.
Step 7: Decking and Planks
The decking is cut from exterior-grade pre-slotted plywood. For the side planks I used 1 x 4 treated lumber. I "kerfed" (slots cut half way through every inch or so) to allow it to be curved to the shape of the bow.
Step 8: Railings and Fittings
I made the railings from 1" copper pipe that I soldered together and painted silver. I intentionally left gaps in the railings so the kids could climb through (this is not intended for toddlers). I purchased a play fire hose, yellow handles, periscope, and telescope from Lowe's. I cut and extended the periscope with a piece of pvc pipe so the kids could peer up from the lower deck. I found the two small ship steering wheels online and the "S.S. FRIENDSHIP" wooden transom letters at the local arts and crafts store.
Step 9: Plans
These scale drawings include the basic measurements.
Step 10: Paint and Finish
I finished the plywood decking with brown exterior stain and at least 3 coats of spar varnish. The side planks were treated with blue exterior wood satin. The cabin is finished with exterior grade gloss white paint. The railings were masked off and spray painted silver. The transom letters were painted gold.
Step 11: Video of Assembly
This video shows how all of the pieces come together: Video of assembly
Step 12: Conclusion
I am pleased with the way the S.S. FRIENDSHIP turned out and my kids love it! Bon Voyage!