Hiding an Eyesore With Recycled Fence Boards

4 Materials
$16
4 Hours
Medium

My neighborhood unfortunately was built with unsightly electrical boxes in both front & back yards. I don’t have one in my yard, but my next door neighbor does.


I planted ornamental grasses & Russian sage to improve the view, but that only helps in Spring & Summer.


Since I’m replacing my fence soon, I thought I’d try repurposing some of the boards.

Measure

The offending electrical box

To start I measured the height and width of each side of the electrical box. I added 3" to each side to account for joining the sections.


The box is actually a rectangle - 31" on one side and 33" on the other. To build the box I made 2 identical panels at 34" wide and 2 at 36" wide.


Since this is a working electrical box and needs to be accessible to the power company, I needed to build something that could be easily removed. I decided to create 4 panels and join them with removable pins in the corners.

Cut the horizontal supports.

I used rescued 1x2s from a local handyman's scrap pile. These came from a former picket fence. I cut them to the 34" or 36" lengths noted above and lined them up for drilling with a clamp.

It is important to drill the holes in a uniform location so that when you need to join the pieces you can easily get the metal pin through. I used a handheld cordless drill, but you need to be careful to drill straight down. I did need to go back and fix a few of them.

Layout

I anchored my horizontal pieces to the work table with clamps and placed my first board to create a starting point. I chose to vary the height of the vertical boards to make it interesting. I cut the verticals to 25", 25 1/2" and 26" and placed them randomly.


In hindsight I might have made the height difference a bit more pronounced and I think I would increase the height of the verticals by 3-4" to cover more of the top of the box.

To make sure the panels were identical and would fit together properly I laid them on top of each other to build, and laid them out on the table (an old door on saw horses) to line up the joining holes.


NOTE: the panels need to overlap in the corners, so I offset the height of the horizontal pieces on two sides so they'd stack on top of each other.

Joining

This piece is designed to be easily disassembled in case the power company needs to get to the box. To accomplish this I joined the panels using a long metal pin. I found these in the welding area at the local farm and home store. They are 1/16" metal rods and cost $2.49 each. They were NOT easy to bend or cut. If I did this again I'd go for a thinner, more pliable rod.


The rods, combined with the holes drilled in the horizontal pieces form the hinge for joining the panels. Once in place I bent the rods over 90 degrees to form a handle to pull them out for disasembly.


NOTE: you need to offset the horizontal supports to join the panels together.

Installation

I put all but the final rod in place and carried the whole thing from the garage to the box (in the rain) and set it up. The next day (after the rain stopped) I adjusted it a bit in place, made sure there were no rocks underneath making it uneven, and set the final joining rod. I then bent the rod ends to 90 degrees and turned them inside for safety.

Before and After - so much better!


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3 of 28 comments
  • Bgray
    on May 31, 2020

    I had considered building something similar to hide the (3) boxes in my front yard but after checking with the power company, I decided otherwise. Instead I have planted several bulbs around them...they die down in the winter but I am inside so don't usually see the boxes but come spring thru fall the boxes blend in with the green plants.

    • Denise D
      on Jun 1, 2020

      Yes about the Power Company, they made me take mine down. The meter reader turned me in.

  • Melanie Willden
    on Jun 5, 2020

    Perhaps painting the box instead of making a box to go around the box? Our local city gov. Has started painting the utility boxes and they are really beautiful. You can think of it like a canvas. I would check with the local utility people first though. If nothing else, the box could be painted a forest green or just something that wouldn’t stand out so much.

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