Build a sand castle

Aug 3, 2009 at 9:24 p.m. ET

Summertime brings thoughts of beach fun -- frolicking in the waves, playing volleyball and making sand castles. Well, the big boys and girls have moved beyond sand castles to amazing sand sculptures! Looking at these works of art is sure to inspire an excursion to the beach. Here's how to build your own sand castle.

Couple Making Sandcastle

There's still plenty of summer and time to build your own sand castle.  You may want to start small, at first. Let these directions and a video by professional sand castle builder Mark Venit help you!

Directions for building your sand castle

1.   Plan 
Draw your castle design on paper or, better yet, cardboard or card stock that will hold up better at the beach.

2.   Tools 
Gather together the tools you will need.  A combination of the following will come in handy:
•    Shovel
•    Trowel
•    Putty knives (different sizes)
•    Various knives (butter, flat, serrated etc.)
•    Boring tool
•    Apple corer
•    Small carving tools
•    Cheese cutter
•    Cookie cutters (variety of sizes and shapes)
•    Metal wires
•    Straws
•    Potato masher
•    Plastic tub
•    Spray bottle


3.  Other important items
•    Kneepads
•    Drinking water
•    Sunscreen
•    Lip balm w/sunblock
•    Hat
•    Camera


4.   Site selection
Choose a good spot near the water and away from crowds and playful dogs. Be careful, however, that your location isn't so close to the water that your castle will be destroyed when the tide comes in.  The sand at the site should be clean and free of debris.

5.   Preparing yourself

Slather on lots of spf 30 sunscreen and use lip balm with a sunscreen to protect your lips.  Strap on kneepads (hours of kneeling can be tough on your knees). Drink plenty of water and wear a comfortable, wide-brimmed hat.


6.   Preparing the sand
Pile up sand at your work site.  Keep adding water until it is wet through and through.  Remove any large stones or non-sand particles. Create a large pile of wet sand, wetting and packing it down hard as you add on more.  The hard-packed pile of sand should be larger than the structure you're planning to build.

7.   Start with the towers

Build up the towers by hand packing the sand tightly all the way up to the top of each turret. Water acts as an adhesive, so be sure to keep the sand wet and tamped down as you build.  Always build the sides and walls on a little bit of an outward angle for additional strength.  Use a trowel to gently smooth out the sides and top of each tower and turret.


8.   Adding the walls
Carve the sides of the walls connecting the towers.  If the sand is already nicely packed, all you should have to do is cut the sand down and away from the wall.  Spray with water and use your tools to smooth out the walls.  Use a 1-inch spatula or knife to carefully cut out the crenulations.


9.   Windows and doors
Carefully carve out windows and doors using the boring tools and the apple corer.


10.   Adding details
Wires and small carving tools work well for adding detail to the door, windows and other areas of the castle.  Light grains of unruly sand are easily blown away with a straw.

11.  The protective moat
As a finishing touch, add a protective moat around the base of the castle to keep it safe from invading armies.
12.   Save it forever
You'll want to save your beautiful, completed castle forever but this, of course, is impossible.  Instead, preserve its memory and evidence of all your hard work in a photograph.

Additional inspiration

Sand castle competitions are held in a variety of locations all year long.  Some competitions to check out:

Annual Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, Oregon

Annual Port Aransas Sand Sculpture Contest, Texas

U. S. Open Sandcastle Competition, San Diego, California

The Pizza Expo Sandtennial, Las Vegas, Nevada

Myrtle Beach Open Sand Sculpting Competition, South Carolina

Too late for these sand sculpting competitions?

Fear not!  Now is the perfect time to begin working on your skills for next summer's competitions.  You could even schedule a sand sculpting classinto next year's vacation.  In the meantime, try your own hand at building sand castles and sand sculptures.


Great sand castle and sculpture sites

Sand Castle Central

Team Santastic


Cool Sand Sculptures From Past Competitions

Cool Sand Sculptures From Past Competitions

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