How to Build a Locked Mail Box

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Help your mailbox stand out from the crowd in both safety and design
Help your mailbox stand out from the crowd in both safety and design (Image: All images from CreativeCommons.org)

Learning how to build a locked mailbox will give you a personalized, decorative look while protecting your bills and personal letters from mail theft. Whether you live in the city, suburbs or country, mail-related crime is unfortunately a reality, and you can keep your mail from being stolen or tampered with by designing a receptacle that is more secure than the average neighborhood mailbox. While few mailboxes are fully indestructible, this step-by-step process will guide you through the building of a customized box that will be functional without causing a street-side eyesore.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric drill
  • Handsaw
  • Screwdriver
  • 1 in. galvanized finishing nails
  • 1 ½ in. #10 wood screws
  • 1 2/4 in. wood screws
  • Brass hinges
  • Wood glue
  • Putty
  • Lock
  • Paint

Choose the materials you need to build your mailbox. You can make a locking mailbox out of nearly any wood or metal; the sturdier, the better. However, for this particular project, we will use plywood. Purchase 18 inches of plywood for the top and bottom and 6 inches for each end. Consider buying 10 percent extra of each material in case of mistakes.

Plywood is sturdy and ideal for a locked mail box.
Plywood is sturdy and ideal for a locked mail box.

Cut your plywood into the lengths mentioned above, and then position them together to ensure they are the right size to fit together. Then take wood glue and nails to permanently assemble the box. Cut the legs for the mail box that is 6 inches wide and 9 inches long. You can create these with 2 x 2 pieces of wood. Join them together in the middle so that they form a top crosspiece. Use your wood glue to make an initial fusion between the legs and the bottom of the mailbox and then drill screws in the center ¼ inch deep for a permanent hold. They should rest in the middle of the box bottom, forming a stand.

Wooden legs will support your mailbox.
Wooden legs will support your mailbox.

Make four square pieces that will fit snugly around the legs - approximately 9 inches wide. These pieces resemble a picture frame in design (open in the middle) and are called collars. Just like the legs, put these together with countersunk screws that attach on the sides of the collars, fastening them together in the center. Drill a hole that is 2 ¼ inches from the front end of the collar and repeat on the rear.

Screws drilled into the wood will ensure long-lasting construction.
Screws drilled into the wood will ensure long-lasting construction.

Put the box together by placing it upside down. Center the box between the wooden legs and slip the first collar over the legs until it fits tightly against the box's bottom. Use 1 ¾ inch screws to attach the collar to the legs, using the holes you drilled in the front and rear.

An example of wood collars.
An example of wood collars.

Add another collar approximately 4 inches away from the first one. Repeat this process for the last two so that they are screwed to the other end of the legs in the exact same manner.

One example of a front flap with a lock. This can be any shape or angle.
One example of a front flap with a lock. This can be any shape or angle.

Cut a strip of wood and fasten a flat end to the front rim of the box so that it hangs over the box like a flap. Drill holes where your lock will go. Install your locks per the instructions found with whatever lock you select. You can also choose to get a simple padlock or combination lock if you wish to simplify things. Carve out a mail slot on the front and paint.

References

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