This series of home posts are events which occurred in the distant past, please bear with me until I catch up to the present.
Before we purchased the house, we scoured the property for a mailbox to no avail. The occupant (who oddly and occasionally viewed the property with us) previously mentioned he used a P.O. Box- needless to say it was next on the list. So on closing day, after picking up supplies at the store and changing the locks, we went to town on DIYing our first home improvement- the mailbox.
We contemplated buying a premade post similar to this one from Menards for $19.97, or this one made with plastic for $58.83, either option did not include the mailbox itself. Add the cost of the mailbox, which is anywhere from $10-$200. After wandering around the store, we decided to take on the challenge to make our mailbox unique and try to beat the total cost of a premade. The lowest cost we could find was $33.97, $19.97 for the post and the mailbox we wanted was $14.
1. Contact your local post office to find out all the rules associated with mailboxes (like height, curb distance, deadlines, etc). We wanted to make our address change transition as smooth as possible.
2. Go to any home improvement store for supplies:
-1 treated 4x4x10 pressure treated pine lumber ground contact post - we purchased this one, local cost $8.97
-1 Mailbox - we purchased this one on sale from Menards for $14 because it was white and it helped us stand out from the rest of our neighbors.
-1lb box 2 1/2” Deck screws (we had these laying around)
-8- 1 1/4” screws (we used what we had laying around)
Other items used- we had on hand:
-Quality scrap wood- length & width mailbox (ours: 6 1/4’ x 18’ x 1 1/4’)
-3 pieces of scrap wood:
1- shim size
1- length & width of table saw
1- any size (used to protect mailbox post)
-Quick release clamps
Optional: composite decking post covers- to further help prevent the wood from rotting, we had some lying around.
Our total cost: $22.97 (including the mailbox)
Score! We beat the premade cost by $11.
3. Measure rough cut the first cut with a skill saw. Ours was approximately 7 feet for the post and to allow enough room to bury the post. There should be about 28 inches left which will be used to rest the mail box on.
4. Using a table saw, chamfer/bevel all four sides on the top end of the post at approximately 45°.
After two cuts it should look like this:
After four cuts, it will look like this:
Tip: use a scrap piece of wood and attach quick release clamps to prevent the blade from hitting the “fence” aka metal guide.
5. Measure and draw out where you would like to notch out where the mailbox post will go.
a. Choose a height to your liking (double check your local post office if there are requirements). We measured the height of the mailbox and added a few inches. We also laid it out to review it aesthetically.
b. Rotate the post ¼ turn, using the lines you just drew, draw straight across until you meet the center of the post. This should create a template for your notch.
6. Set the skill saw blade to the appropriate depth, which should be half way through the post. Rotate the board back ¼ turn and line the Speed Square to the edge of the board holding it in place while you make your first cut along each line (moving the Speed Square as you go).
7. Then make multiple cuts (we did 8) staying between the original two cuts.
8. Using a chisel and hammer, tap out the excess material. Once you remove the larger pieces, carve out the remaining guts, rotate the board as necessary.
9. Repeat steps 4-8 with the remaining, smaller, post in which the mailbox rests on. Step four, repeat on each end of the post.
10. Assemble the posts. Use another scrap piece of wood, hammer the posts together (this will prevent hammer holes in your treated wood).
The post should now look like this:
11. Using the drill, screw in four screws to secure the posts. Place one in the middle on the opposite side
12. If necessary, measure the inside of the mailbox (excluding the metal lip) and trim your scrap piece of wood to fit inside the lip of the mailbox.
13. Use the scrap wood/shim to leave the appropriate amount of space between where the posts connect to ensure the mailbox metal will fit.
14. Attach the scrap wood to the mailbox ledge.
15. Attach the 8- 1 ¼ screws along the edge of the mailbox. *mailboxes vary; you may have predrilled holes inside the mailbox.
16. Smile awkwardly and show off your handy work.
Optional: secure composite decking post covers with decking screws at various lengths which meet your local post office standards. We planned to dig ours deep as we have snow removal and plows tend to clip mailboxes.
After putting in all this blood sweat and tears, we called the post office to verify where we were able to install the mailbox. They informed us we simply had to put it alongside our neighbors in the group of mailboxes. Queue the wah-wah-wah. Well at least we got to meet the sweet neighbor across the street. We also got to give it away as a ‘thank you for being the Hercules muscles in this renovation project’ gift.
Have you ever put in a lot of effort to have it backfire in the end?
And my little disclaimer- I was not paid or perked by any companies listed above, we just used what worked for us.