So you know I’m super sentimental, right? Well this year for my 34th birthday, Nick giftwrapped a very old and weathered corbel from my late Grandfather’s beautiful ornate mailbox design. He was a very talented carpenter, and was always busy building with his hands. I have lots of his pieces in my home that I cherish. And as my birthday gift, Nick pledged to build us a mailbox stand inspired by my Grandpa’s design!
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So I’m going to hand the reigns over to my beloved, so he can show you how he built it… including building plans in case you want to make one too!
Several years ago Beth and I pulled this old mailbox post out of her Grandfather’s woodshop. Beth has many fond memories of her Grandpa’s woodworking projects and this was one of those items that I always had the best intentions to build in his honor. This summer, I stumbled upon it again, as I was trying to think of a good gift to for Bethany’s birthday. Both sentimental and homemade… perfect.
Material List for Mailbox with Corbels
- (Qty 1) 4x4x10’ Cedar
- (Qty 1) 4x4x6’ Cedar
- (Qty 1) 2x4x8’ Cedar
- (Qty 3) 2x6x6’ Cedar
- (Qty 1) 1x6x6’ Cedar
- Deck Screws
- Forstner bits
- 1/2″ Radius Cove Router Bit
- Titebond III glue
- Boiled Linseed oil
- Mineral Spirits
Of the pieces of dilapidated mailbox we had left from Beth’s Grandfather’s, I was able to piece it together in my head and have a general vision of what it looked like before a snowplow hit it on her grandparents’ country road.
We chose to use cedar lumber for this project. We liked the coloring, the rot resistance, and the smellllllll… ok maybe not the smell. It gets intense after cutting into it for hours on end. As previously mentioned, cedar is persistent against rotting; a good thing since it will be in the elements 365 days a year. It is also a lot lighter and has less chemicals than treated lumber.
I started by cutting the 4×4’s to length. Be sure to cut into the end enough to get past any checking that may have happened during the drying process.
Then, layout and cut the half lap joints. This will create a secure/clean joint. If you have a Ridgid sliding compound miter saw you can use the depth stop, which sets the depth of the blade. This is a nifty feature that I never thought to use until this project. Other miter saws might have this option too, you will just have to look. Other options would be to use a circular saw or a table saw, however hefting a ten foot 4×4 through a table saw might not be the easiest or wisest thing to do.
Next, I cut the end pattern on the top of the vertical post. We used the miter saw for the 45 degree angles on the end and then laid out the longer diamond shaped pieces and cut them out with a circular saw.
Once both 4×4’s are cut, half-lapped, and you are satisfied with the decorative pattern you chose for the top, attach them with waterproof glue and screw together with deck screws.
One of the issues we ran into using cedar, was the difficulty sourcing a 2×10, to rectify this we purchased 2×6’s, glued and biscuit’d them together. (this is the biscuit joiner we use)
We always cut the boards larger than they need to be when gluing. This allows us to cut them down to size and clean up the edges.
We laid out two corbels on the board and drilled the corresponding holes. Follow the building plans closely for precise drilling with your Forstner Bits.
Then split the corbels.
Then I glued and attached the corbels to the vertical and horizontal posts.
Attach the mailbox base and add the side rails to the horizontal post.
Finally, we add trim! I opted to make my own trim… some with a chamfered edge, and some with a CMT 1/2” cove router bit. We attached them with our Ryobi Airstrike nail gun.
Here is the CMT Cove bit in action.
Trim under the mailbox base. The angles were tricky… I would recommend drawing it out on the bottom of the mailbox base. The angles are 22.5 degrees and the front board needs to be a little narrower. Another option is to cut it out of one board or you can get creative with your own trim ideas.
We finished off the trim with some more cove trim below and above the side rails.
The whole thing got sanded down and sealed it with thinned/boiled linseed oil. It is a lot of fun to apply it and watch it soak into the wood.
Speaking of wood… this thing really popped after adding the Linseed oil until it no longer soaks in. Let it sit for 15 mins or whatever the manufacture suggests, and wipe off the excess. Be sure to soak your rag in water or let it air out outside (you know, so your garage doesn’t spontaneously combust). It you decide to go the route of using treated lumber, you will need to wait until the lumber has had adequate time to reduce its moisture content before sealing.
Affix on the actual mailbox, and plant that baby in the ground! You can refer to USPS website for instructions on placement.
For now, we’re just knocking on those wooden corbels in hopes that a snowplow won’t hit our mailbox. Because we love it!
It was a blast to build this piece, being able to see Beth’s family reminisce about their Grandfather’s projects, and the stories behind them made this project so worth while. Hopefully, we will be able to pass the stories and the appreciation for woodworking down through our children!
Thanks for pinning! <3
Karen Sandlin says
Great job, Nick! I know she loved it and your thoughtfulness behind the gift. Really beautiful.
dana dashoop says
EXCELLENT!!!! SOOOOOOOOOOOO COOL!!!!!!
GREAT JOB NICK!!!!!