The holiday season is in full swing—and if you're anything like us, you're most likely ordering presents online for your loved ones already (or expecting your own presents in the mail from faraway relatives). Sadly, it's easy nowadays for packages to go missing when left on a porch unattended—it's even happened to our family! I left a present on my nephew's front porch for him, but when he got home it was gone (and he lost other packages the same way that year). My neighbors like to call these present thieves "porch pirates."
I didn't want my nephew—or anyone else—to go through that again, so I came up with a solution to secure packages delivered to any front door. Today, we’re building a package drop box with a locking mechanism to keep your packages safe for the holidays. It's customizable to however much space you have available on your porch, and you can even add a sign for your delivery person to flip after they drop something off. The holiday season is always busy, so check "worrying about your packages" off of that to-do list.
Step 1: Design and determine needed measurements (or use ours)
To start, decide where you’ll keep your package drop box. Measure the space, then determine the dimensions of your box accordingly. The size of our package drop box is suited to handle envelopes and several sizes of boxes easily, but if you want your box to allow for even more packages, increase the dimensions in height.
Our box was made for a specific spot and measures 23 3/4” wide by 35” tall by 21” deep.
Step 2: Cut lumber and plywood
Once you’ve determined your dimensions, cut your lumber and plywood to size. For our dimensions, follow our handy cutting guide.
Step 3: Assemble box frame
Next, assemble the box frame using 3” screws. Our box frame will be 34 1/4” tall. You’ll be putting more than one screw into each joint, so offset them and—before you sink another screw into that joint—check it and offset it in a different direction so the screws don’t hit each other. Use four 34” two-by-twos as the uprights. Use four 17” two-by-twos for the sides. Assemble two rectangles, then connect them with three 19 1/4” two-by-two pieces and one 19 1/4” one-by-two. The one-by-two will be at the top and laid flat to act as the top front edge of the package drop box.
Step 4: Add door divider to package drop box
The package drop box will have two doors: one smaller door at the top and a larger one below. For this step, you’ll use your remaining 19 1/4” two-by-twos and the one-by-two of the same length. Mount the one-by-two parallel to the two-by-two, but offset them by 3/4”. Screw these two joined pieces in place at a point 7 1/4” down from the crosspiece above, using two screws at each end to make it secure. The one-by-two will be stepped down and hang below the two-by-two on the back side. This will divide the front, so there's an opening above that’s 7 1/4” high and an opening below about 25” high.
Step 5: Add middle section to package drop box
Mount two 17” two-by-two pieces front-to-back so the tops of these pieces are 16” below the top of the box frame. Connect these pieces with a cross brace and position it 7” from the inside of the front upright. Drive screws into each end of the cross brace, centering the screw so the cross brace turns on the screws as if they were an axle.
Step 6: Build internal slide shelf
Now you’re going to build a ramp for packages to slide down once they're placed inside the small door opening. Using the piece of plywood that measures 13" x 19" and 1” screws, mount the plywood to the one-by-two of the door divider piece in the step above and to the crosspiece near the middle of the box frame—but first make sure to tilt the crosspiece to an angle that matches the slope of the shelf.
Step 7: Screw on plywood sides and mount top piece
Using 1 1/4” screws, screw the sides of the box in place so the top edges line up with the top of the box frame. To mount the top piece in place, screw the top into the box frame, but make sure to leave enough overhang in the back to cover the thickness of the plywood you’re using.
Step 8: Mount upper door
Position the pull for the upper door, mark the position, drill for the mounting screws, and screw it into place. Mount two cabinet hinges to the one-by-two crosspiece at the top of the box frame, positioning them as high up as possible. Now, attach the upper door to the other side of both hinges.
Step 9: Mount lower, swinging door
Measure the height of the lower door, subtract an inch or two, and cut a continuous hinge to that length. Use two screws to mount one side of the hinge to the outside edge of the box frame. Hold the door in place, mark the spot, and secure with two screws. Take a moment to stop, check the alignment of the swinging door, and adjust if necessary. Once you have it properly in place, sink the rest of the screws through the hinge wings into the box frame and door.
Step 10: Install catches
To lock your package drop box, you can use a hasp and padlock, a keyed cabinet lock, or a variety of other locks. We chose a magnetic child-safety cabinet lock, so we have no visible way to open the bottom door and no handle to try to yank open. The lock requires a magnetic “key” to release the latch. You just hold the “key” in the right spot on the door, and it will release and allow the door to swing open.
Step 11: Install bottom mounting plates
You can attach your package drop box to either wood or concrete, and depending on which method you use, you may want to prep the mounting plates before you secure them to the box frame. To secure the mounting plates made from the two-by-four, use two screws at both ends of each board and fasten the two two-by-fours into place crossways between the bottom framing of the box frame.
Depending on what material your porch is, here are some options for how best to attach your package drop box:
(1) Attaching to wood: Screw a lag screw through the top of the mounting plate into wood below.
(2) Attaching to concrete: Drive a concrete anchor into a drilled hole in the concrete. Drill a hole in the mounting place to accept the threaded bolt end that will stick up out of the concrete, and fasten with a washer and nut.
(3) Attaching to wood or concrete: Use a construction adhesive to glue the mounting plates to your deck, porch, steps, etc.
Step 12: Attach the back
Finally, screw the back piece of plywood into place with the top edge tucked up under the overhanging lid.
Step 13: Paint or stain your drop box
We painted our drop box to match the siding of its new home. If you want, you can add a two-sided "vacant" and "occupied" sign to the top of the package drop box, so your delivery driver can let you know when they’ve dropped a package for you.
And there you have it! Enjoy your new, one-of-a-kind package drop box that will keep your packages safe and dry this holiday season and throughout the year ahead. Spruce up the rest of your porch with a fresh coat of paint on your front door, some DIY wooden lanterns, or start hanging up those Christmas lights.