Making a Mailbox

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The spark for this project arguably began in 2001 with the purchase of a traditional barrel-vaulted metal mailbox. It was to be temporary. We stuck it on a used 4x4 post, as the house itself was still under construction and no wall existed yet to hang a mailbox onto.

The shape of the mailbox was identical to the big upper window of the house.

In 2012 the idea occurred (sketch, left) for a permanent mailbox post, shaped and scribe-fit to appear as if a tree had grown over a boulder. The concept required a carefully selected boulder, and a matching tree.


The ideal trunk-post would need to have the correct diameter and length, be reasonably straight but with elegant curves, and have been carefully harvested below the top of the root flare, low enough to enable shaping the buttresses to conform to the boulder. It would take years to find.

Finding the boulder was easy enough, with a trip to the stone yard to select one from hundreds of candidates. However, multiple attempts to find the perfect tree trunk fell short of the ideal.

Finally in 2018 the utility company wanted to remove some ‘volunteer’ trees growing on the property line too close to the electric wires. The Junior Wizards helped Lou/Bill to rescue a young Maple trunk that had promise. We drilled a hole the full length of the bole, de-barked it and set it aside to dry for a year or so.

Carving the Root Base

Beginning the laborious process of shaping the base of the tree trunk to fit over the stone, with curved saw cuts, then careful scribing, much chiseling, and repeated test fittings.

Extending two of the roots to better curl over the boulder entailed a bit of creative cheating.

A thick layer of structural epoxy (a product geared towards the historic restoration market) bridges the remaining irregular gap between roots and stone, and serves to seal the wood away from moisture.

Compared to painstakingly shaping the roots, crafting the roofed box to house the mailbox was straightforward.

It incorporates 30 LEDs to light the walkway.

The mailbox-making fell during the summer months of the 2020 COVID lockdown, everyone masked and socially distanced. Lou/Bill was cheered by occasional visits from children who stopped over to track the build progress.

Pouring the concrete footing

Concrete cured, with electrical

Painting the house-box.

And who provided inspiration of their own: the root buttresses and indentations of the trunk made it easy to populate it as a destination for tiny HO-scale climbers and sightseers for the children to discover.

To the left in the photo are peonies, and beyond them rhubarb, both originally from 8447.

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