Saturday, May 15, 2010

Toy Making: TREEHOUSE

treehouse_title

For Mateo's recent birthday this past March, Tom and I decided to make him something special- a beautiful woodland Treehouse. In trying to avoid getting sucked into buying expensive wood toys we took a leap and created something ourselves. We stayed up late nights working on our little project in secret and found ourselves delving deep into a magical woodland world. It is so satisfying to see your children play with toys that you made for them with your own hands.

To make a treehouse yourself you will need some basic wood working skills under your belt and more importantly, access to tools. We found that making the treehouse was an organic process and will vary depending on the wood that you find.

In total, the whole project took us 15hours to complete, including all the little details like the hammock, ladder, swing etc.

Tools and Supplies you'll need:

Miter saw , jig saw, drill with bits, router, sander, wood screws, wood glue, dowel rod, string and yarn (for the hammock, ladder and swing), some 1/2 inch (approximately) planks and a selection of beautiful hard wood branches.

treehouse

We gathered all the branches we could find that might make the right fit for our Treehouse. Make sure any wood you find is fully dry and not still green. Wood should not have any mold or decay.

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Use the jig saw to cut out the shape you want for your base floor and back wall (optional). As we need to attach the treehouse somewhere in the bus we went with a back wall and added a window as a little architectural element. The window can be cut with the jig saw if you first make a large hole with your drill - large enough to put the jig saw blade in.

After cutting the planks to shape we used the router on the edges. A variety of 'bits' are with the router to make different edges, but we went with a simple rounding tool. The result is a really nice (and more importantly safe for little hands) finish. Finish this phase of the process by sanding your pieces.

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Once our base floor and back wall was finished we started to think structurally. We cut a gnarled piece of wood to sit flat top and bottom on our base and then figured out its placing.

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We screwed in our back wall to the back edge of our floor. Note: Make sure to pre-drill your holes to avoid splitting wood - especially in to your branches.

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To avoid unsightly screws the branches on the first level should be screwed in from the bottom. The second level is little trickier. Here your branches need to be set in place with a combination of screws and glued dowels. We screwed through the second level into the first branch to secure it from the top, then pre drilled holes in the second level and the second branch. Into both sets of holes we put glue and into the holes on the second level we inserted dowel pieces. Our second branch went on top of this and the dowels from the second level went up into its holes. Everything is set with wood glue for extra strength. The third level is set in the same way as the second level.

In the end we made a total of four floors, each suspended and supported by various cool bits of wood. The process is itself one of play, deciding where to add or remove branches until settling on a final design.

Treehouse_7

When the structure is complete then you can focus on the trimmings. We cut a staircase out with a jig saw then sanded it. It is set in place with a screw from the bottom and wood glue at the top. You could also use a stack of wood rounds, but this worked best for us.

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This little woodland Mama hangs from the wood and rope ladder made with string and left over wood dowel. We bought the woodland family and baskets from Magic Cabin.

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We added a branch that extends out for our swing.

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The ropes are made from thin hemp which I braided together. I wrapped them around a wooden dowel and then fed the rope through holes that we drilled into our branch.

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The swing itself is a small cut off from a wood round. The swing is set in place with a knot at the bottom of the rope.

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We even cut a "mouse leather hide" for the floor. Also note the blue in the window. The chairs were purchased from Fairy Furnishings.

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Mateo was pretty impressed. I was too! I hope this woodland home stays in our family for generations!

Check us out at www.transitantenna.com

22 comments:

Montessori Beginnings said...

Super cool! I keep asking my husband to make one but he never does. Maybe this post will inspire him : )

Linda said...

Oh my goodness, this is so beautiful!
Happy weekend
Warmly
Linda

nocton4 said...

lovely to read through your blog, very inspiring .. this house is wonderful, am thinking of giving it ago for my son's 3rd birthday in September.
x

nacherluver said...

That is absolutely The Best little tree house/playhouse I have ever laid my eyes upon! Love it!
Wish I wasn't so scared of power tools. I might just have tried one.

CHILDHOOD MAGIC said...

I agree with Nacherluver--- coolest treehouse ever!

Mardi said...

Oh my, yes this is the coolest treehouse - ever!

angelina said...

i love it, was sent over by childhood magic, am following you now! we reallyyyyy want to make a treehouse, thanks for your post!
xx

meg said...

Awesome house, such a work of art (and heart) x

twolittleseeds said...

Perfect timing!
Have been looking for this tute. Fab house. Thanks for sharing x

Amanda said...

Outstanding! This is gorgeous! Nice work, I am sure this will get a lot of play and love.

Stracci e Pupazzi said...

Fantastico, semplicemente fantastico. Grazie per le istruzioni
Buona vita
Glori

erin said...

This is such a beautiful work of art. I'm definitely showing this inspiration to my hubby.

Wabi Sabi Wanderings said...

That magical treehouse is beyond beautiful! How extaordinary, and to be handmade with love and intention -- perfect.

Wendy said...

what an amazing gift! A work of art.

jennifer said...

Hi all, such a great project. My hubby made one for our boys last year and we bartered with my best friend who wanted one as a Christmas gift for her kids. The kids enjoy working on these home projects as much as we do (if not more)! BTW, you're welcome to park the bus for a stay if you're ever in NC:-)

Transit Antenna Home said...

Thanks Jennifer! We are planning to go to North Carolina as one of our first stops. So we might just take you up on your offer.
We are also all about bardering!

jenny said...

Oh wow, I can't believe that you made that yourselves. It is beautiful and I'm sure there are hours and hours of wonderful creative and imaginative play ahead :) I am going to post a link for my Nature Play Fridays (you left me a lovely comment)

Transit Antenna Home said...

Thanks Jenny!

Moment to Moment said...

wow, how awesome and how inspiring, nothing compares to home made..

fawndear said...

Amazing! We built a treehouse too, but yours is definatly more on the sturdy side. Love it. Hope you don't mind if I link to you?

Tootles,
FawnDear

earthboysblog said...

It is beautiful, how wonderful that you made this intricate little design, a lot of work went into this and I'm sure it will be in your family for a long time. We are also going to make a little house for our children for christmas from the beautiful wood that drifts down the stream. Lovely to come across your blog. Are you traveling? We are also traveling N.America mostly national forests, we leave again in March to explore more of Colorado. My husband bought our car which is ultra low sulphur diesel and all the emissions produced by the combustion are captured by a filter that gets cleaned by UREA - a low emission car. We also have a compost toilet and solar! We can't get a smaller car as I would have liked, for safety reasons and we will travel with horses in the future. It has also saved many air tickets and travel flights!!

Transit Antenna Home said...

Hi Earthboyblog- We are not quite yet on the road. We are actually doing a test drive up to NC to pick up some solar panels that are being donated to usin another week! Everyday we tinker and try and piece together bits and bobs around the Bus (yet to named)to realize our needs on the road. We are just about there.
I think we have mutual friend Ariela!
When and if we can I'd love to meet on the road.
Sam