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Sand Castle Contest Tools

Updated on August 27, 2012

Tools you need to build a fancy sand castle or sculpture

This is a list of tools I've seen used successfully in a local sand castle contest I've been participating in for the last 3 decades. This contest is is mostly an everyone welcome family fun sort of event, but there are always a few teams taking things very seriously. This is a packing list to help you build your own giant sand castle. If you are entering a sand castle contest, good luck, and don't forget the hat and sun screen.

Sand Movers

The first step of building an impressive sand castle is moving a bunch of sand. While you can go small and concentrate on detail, size really gets people's attention, so starting with a hill of sand is usually the first step. It helps to have lots of able bodied people to help. It also helps to have some good tools.

1. Shovels

Real shovels are ideal. If you don't have one, you can move a surprising amount of sand with a milk jug with the bottom cut off. It will be more work though.

2. Gloves

If you are the sort of person who doesn't have callouses on their hands, you may want to throw some work gloves into the sand castle building kit for the shovel phase.

3. Plaster buckets

At the beach where I build castles the low tide zone has finer sand that holds detail much better. We often haul some of the finer sand for this. You need heavy duty plaster buckets for this. Some household buckets don't hold up to the weight.

Forms

Serious:

(These are methods used by top contenders for large, more vertical sculptures.)

1. Custom plywood forms.

2. Roofing sheet material clamped into a circle and tied with rope or straps.

Casual:

(This is more realistic for the family fun division.)

1. Large plastic planters.

The hole in the bottom is key to get the form off after you turn it upside down.

2. Plastic waste baskets.

3. Assorted plastic containers from the recycling bin.

Little Kids

You won't win any contests with this sort of sand castle mold, but kids enjoy playing with them.

Water Movers

You usually build a sand castle in an area of dry sand. Sand castles crumble when they are built from dry sand. If you want any kind of detail, you need to dump quite a bit of water over your initial pile of sand between tamping it down.

1. Plaster Buckets

This is the most common method. The thing is you need to be in shape. Get some athletes on your sand castle building team.

2. Bilge pump and tubing

I've never seen this, but I've often though someone should use a hand pump bilge pump and plastic tubing to pump salt water up to the sand castle site.

Sand tamper

Sand needs to be packed down

1. Lots of kids jumping up and down.

As an added bonus, kids on your team can improve your chances of winning.

2. Dirt tamper.

There are some construction tools out there for this if you're really serious about your sand castle building.

Carving tools

Really great sand castles and sculptures are carved, not formed with molds. You're going to need some carving tools to get great detail on your sand castle. Because salt water causes rust, it's best to use plastic versions of all of these when you have the option.

Kitchen Tools

1. Butter knife

2. Spatula

3. Spoon

Shop Tools

1. Trowels of all kinds

2. Putty knives

3. Paint brushes

Yard Tools

2. Rakes

Great for cleaning up around the sculpture at the very end.

3. Brooms

Other:

Tubing, or straws

I haven't seen this done in person, but another site indicates that the really serious carvers use these to blow away excess sand while carving.

Water Sprayers

As a sand castle dries out, it starts to crumble. If yours has much detail, or vertical to it, you'll need to spray it to keep it looking sharp through judging.

1. Hand held

The advantage of this style is you probably already have one. You will get hand cramps trying to keep a large sand castle wet with one of these though.

2. Bug sprayer that has not been used for insecticide.

This is the ideal tool for keeping a sandcastle from drying out.

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