If you are looking for an interesting weekend project, why not build a decorative stone mailbox? If you are familiar with basic construction tools, and know how to sling mud on a wall, this project can be completed in a single day, and will completely change the appearance of your yard and mailbox area.
Step 1 - Plan Ahead
Before you begin construction, the work area should be leveled. Also, lay out the stone for all 4 sides in the pattern you want to use. This allows you to simply pick up a piece and put it exactly where you want it to go, saving you time and decisions as the construction proceeds. The more you are able to plan the project ahead of time, the faster it can be completed when the work begins.
Step 2 - Build the Pedestal Frame
The pedestal for a stone mailbox is a basic rectangle, stood on end. A good size for most purposes is an 18 inch square, by 50 inches or more high. We will be inserting the mailbox at a height of 42 inches, and the finished pedestal should extend above the top of the mailbox. Cover the entire frame with chicken wire or stucco mesh. Portland will be troweled onto this subsurface, and will in turn support the stone facing.
Step 3 - Add an Access Door
On the rear or side of the pedestal, install an access plate. This can be a metal plate on hinges, or a concealed door covered in the same decorative stone as the rest of the pedestal. This access is not required, but it will allow you to customize the mailbox easily at a later date, such as running wiring for a decorative light, or even converting the mailbox pedestal into a functional fountain for greater aesthetic appeal.
Step 4 - Build the Mailbox Slip
Install a mailbox slip. This can be a boxed opening for a traditional mailbox to slide into, but a better idea is to build a small box, approximately 8 inches wide by 8 inches high, and at least 12 inches deep, and affix it to the pedestal at exactly 42 inches from the ground. This is the height required by the United States Postal Service. If you expect to receive packages by mail, build your mailbox to any size you expect to be required.
Step 5 - Set a Stone Guide
Extend a piece of wood 2 inches out from the front of the mailbox, fastened securely on the top of the pedestal. Suspend a plumb bob from the outer edge of this piece, and fasten it securely. Do this for each side as you go, and measure from the string to the face of the stones to insure that each stone is placed flush with the others.
Step 6 - Apply Portland and Stone
Mix the Portland cement. Add 1 cup of masonry bonding agent to to the Portland mix. The mix should be stiff, so that it can cling to the wire mesh. Apply to one entire side at a time, and then place the stones for that side, as you have them laid out. Be sure to check the distance between the string and each stone, and apply more Portland where the depth is too great. Where the stone needs to be inset farther, simply push it in firmly.