Saturday, April 18, 2015

Making Sand Blocks: Special Crafting Talent Not Required

Sand blocks: you can have some, too!
It is a truth universally accepted that kids love to make noise. Sand blocks are a dream come true for most youngsters, as they can scritch, clap, tap, you name it!  When I was a new Primary music leader, sand blocks were the first instrument I acquired, since I was able to make them inexpensively and easily. Note: I do not consider myself crafty by any stretch of the imagination.  When a friend suggested I make these, I protested at first.  However, I'm glad my husband encouraged me to give it a try.  Although time consuming to make in the amounts I needed, this project is really quite simple.

The Case For Making Your Own

Yes, you can just go buy sand blocks and save yourself the time.  BUT...The cheapest I've seen sand blocks for sale from learning supply stores is about $4 per set.  I spent $20 on supplies and made 48 sets.  (That's $.42 per set, if you don't have a calculator handy.)  If I'd bought that many sets, it would have cost me $192.  Not happenin'.  Granted, it took me (and my husband, the chief saw-operator) numerous hours to make that many sand blocks ourselves, but if you have more time than money, DIY is definitely the way to go.

Can you imagine if I'd paid retail prices for all these?

Supplies to Buy

2"x4" boards
sand paper
wood stain
wood glue

The Method

1. Saw the 2"x4"s into two-inch segments.  (I sweet-talked my husband into doing this step, since power saws mystify/terrify me.)

2. With a power sander, give each block a once-over.  Feel the entire surface of each block afterwards to make sure there are no splinters or sharp edges.  Tiny hands will be sure to find any that you miss! :(

Holding up great after 1 1/2 years
3. Using a paint brush, apply the stain to 5 sides of each block, setting the remaining unpainted side on newspaper to dry.  When dry, stain the last side and dry completely.

4.  Place a sheet of sandpaper on top of a thick piece of cardboard.  Using an X-ACTO knife, cut the sandpaper into pieces the size of your blocks.  (I cut mine about 1 7/8 inches by 3 3/4 inches.)

5.  Using wood glue, glue one piece of sandpaper onto each dried block.  Place sandpaper-side down to dry, so the weight of the block works in your favor.  Dry overnight, and then you're good to go!

Children truly are eager to learn.  If they're acting bored, it's probably because they're bored. Give them a new way to interact with the music! Their enthusiasm just might surprise you. :)

Happy singing!


  1. Awesome, fun idea! Another thing people can do if they don't have a power saw is to get the wood from a place like Home Depot--I know when I have bought wood there before I took it to the back and got them to cut it for me :)

    1. Good tip! My Home Depot only does two cuts for free, and then there's a charge for additional cuts. I'm not sure if that policy is nation-wide, but at least it's an option for people who don't have power saws.