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Building a better mailbox.

Catch your mail carrier's eye with this colorful home-crafted mailbox

MAILBOXES OFTEN PERCH ON single, narrow posts, but architect James F. McGlothlin of Agoura Hills, California, wanted something more distinctive. He designed his own stand and mailbox for a result that's both substantial and graceful-looking.

His design started with a homemade plywood mailbox that fits between pairs of slender wooden legs. Four square horizontal collars reinforce the legs. The entire assembly is mounted to a concrete base rising 6 inches from the ground. To conform to postal regulations, the bottom of the mailbox is 42 inches from street level.

We modified McGlothlin's design so you can build it using basic tools: a handsaw and miter box, electric drill, hammer, screwdriver, and wrench. You'll also need 1-inch galvanized finishing nails, 1 1/2-inch #10 woodscrews, 1 3/4-inch woodscrews, woodworking glue, brass hinges, hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners, 1/4-inch dowels, wood putty, four 1/2-inch threaded rods (about 5 inches long) with nuts, and 2 pints of paint (one each of two different colors).

The mailbox, made of 3/8-inch exterior plywood, is 6 inches square (outer dimensions) on the ends, 18 inches long at the top, and 16 inches long at the bottom. The top overhangs and protects the front flap, which pivots on hinges and is secured with hook-and-loop fasteners. Assemble the box with glue and nails. Fill nail holes and paint the box one color.

The wooden legs and collars are all made of 2-by-2s with mitered joints. Each pair of legs has an inside width of 6 inches--the same as the mailbox width. (The legs should measure 9 inches on the outside, assuming the 2-by-2s are 1 1/2 inches wide.) To join each pair of legs to a top crosspiece, glue and countersink screws 1/4 inch.

The four square collars have inside widths of 9 inches. Assemble them with countersunk screws through the side pieces; also drill holes 2 1/4 inches from each end of the front and rear pieces. You can paint the legs and collars in the second color now or after final assembly.

To assemble the mailbox and frame, work upside down. Center the box between the legs, and slip the first collar over the legs until it fits snugly against the bottom of the box. Screw the collar to the legs through the predrilled holes, and secure the collar to the mailbox with 1 3/4-inch screws.

Add the next collar so it is 4 inches from the first one. Identically space and screw the remaining two collars to the other end of the legs. At this point, you can either cut and glue short lengths of dowel into each countersunk hole so they extend about 1/4 inch (for a decorative look), or just cover the screw heads with wood putty and sand the surface.

The bottom collar is bolted to a concrete base with nuts on threaded rods. Center and drill a 1/2-inch-diameter hole from the underside through each side of the bottom collar. Mark and drill matching holes on scrap plywood and use it as a guide for positioning the rods when you pour the concrete.

The base has a 13-inch-square top. Use plywood to build a form; apply oil or form release to the wood where it will touch concrete.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Whiteley, Peter O.
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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