GARDEN HOUSE

Most children have a cherished dream -a small house, shed or den which is especially for them to play in. The world of make-believe is one to foster and this little house is ideal for tea parties, teddy bears’ picnics, or, stretching the imagination, a place of safety for those three little pigs who were always having trouble with the big bad wolf.

The house is built completely from stock size Nordic redwood. (I bought sawn timber and planed it up and saved a great deal of money that way.) The roof is made from corrugated ‘plastic’ sheeting which overlaps at the ridge and prevents the rain getting in. The design is easily adapted if you want a larger house and you can add clear plastic to the sides if you wish.

I have deliberately avoided a door. Doors need hinges and with this particular size of timber a door could give little fingers a very nasty pinch. Plywood doors are not so dangerous as they are much lighter, should you be commissioned to fit a door by the ‘owner-to-be’.

The finished project always looks far more difficult than it is so let’s make a start by ‘breaking it down’. The house consists of two pentagonal (five-sided) frames and these are held together by lengths of wood. One of the end frames is panelled, the other left open for the entrance. The roof is held to the building by battens that are in turn fitted to the end frames.

The most important tool in this job will be a sliding bevel gauge. If you don’t have one, then get one you must, as it’s vital for marking out and checking angles.

1. To make your first end frame, set the angle on the bevel gauge and mark off the required angles on the ends of the two side spars. Place the side spars and the top two spars in their correct positions on the workbench. Re-set the bevel gauge and mark off the required angles on the top spars. Place the bottom spar across and use a clamp to hold everything in place. When you are sure you have marked all the angles correctly, dismantle the frame and cut away the waste wood.

2. Screw the side spars on to the bottom spar and the top spars on to the side spars from the inside face of the frame. Where the top spars meet in the middle, screw a small shaped end plate of timber to hold them rigid.

3. Now make the other end frame in the same way. You’ll find you will do this in half the time it took you to make the first one since you will have learnt so much!

4. Tape or clamp the completed end frames together and mark the notches for the top spars that will support the roof. Separate the frames and cut out the notches.

5. Cut out the eight horizontal battens needed (four for each side) that hold the end frames together. Three of these fit flat against the sides of the end frames, while the fourth fits across the ends of the bottom spars. Screw them in position by driving screws into the edges of the end frames. An assistant to support the frames as you screw would be a bonus.

6. Now cut out and screw in position the four vertical battens (two for each side) that give extra stability to the horizontal spars.

7. To complete the entrance end frame cut out two horizontal and two vertical battens of timber. Set your sliding bevel gauge to the angle of the side walls. Mark off this angle on one end of each horizontal batten. Cut away the waste wood. Screw a horizontal and a vertical batten together at right angles and mark a curve on the wood across the corner. Cut away the corner and smooth off with a spokeshave and glasspaper. Repeat with the other two battens.

Glue and screw these ‘entrance rails’ on to the outside face of one of the end frames

8. The panelled end looks very homely and is very satisfying to build. By using tongue and groove boards it is simple to fit the pieces together once they are cut.

i First cut two horizontal battens to length and screw them in position.

ii Fit the straight strips of panelling needed below the window area, using brass panel pins to attach them to the horizontal battens. The neatest way to attach the panelling is to drive panel pins through the tongues. The groove then fits over the tongue and completely hides the panel pins. There is a real sense of achievement in this job. You will also need to cut two triangular pieces for the sides.

iii The area above the window is more tricky. You will need to use both a sliding bevel gauge and probably also cardboard templates to mark out the angled panelling required. Take your time over the marking out and you will be less likely to waste wood. The pieces should be panel-pinned to the top horizontal batten and the roof spars.

9. Cut six roof support battens to length and screw them in position in the notches cut at the top of the end frames.

10. Now for the roof. I used standard ICI Novolux corrugated sheeting for the roof. Two 6-foot (1.35 metre) sheets gave me two pieces of the right size for each half.

The sheeting for one half of the roof should extend about 20mm (3/4 in) beyond the ridge. The sheeting for the other half then tucks underneath, forming a waterproof join without the need for tape or sealant.

11. To make sure that the perspex roof does not pose a hazard to children, the edges of the roof need to be guarded. Screw two wooden ‘barge boards’ on to the top of each end frame. You’ll need to cut an angle on the abutting ends of each pair so that they form a good join. Then fix a wooden batten along each side of the roof by screwing into the ends of the battens from the outside faces of the barge boards.

If the roof perspex still overlaps anywhere cut it off with a fine-toothed saw.

To add a finishing touch cut out two shaped end plates and screw one on to the apex of each end frame.

Bench

1. Cut out the two sides of the bench and screw the seat slats in position on top of the sides.

2. Cut out four legs and screw them in position.

3. Cut out two end pieces and screw them on to the ends of the bench sides for extra stability.

Finishing

Go over the entire house and bench very carefully with glasspaper until all saw cuts and rough edges have been completely removed.

Cutting list

Basic end frame 2 off 1143 × 95 × 22mm (45 × 3 3/4 × 7/8in) Timber

4 off 1130 × 95 × 22mm (44 1/2 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

4 off 857 × 95 × 22mm (33 3/4 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

2 off 254 × 95 × 22mmm (10 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

Entrance 2 off 438 × 95 × 22mm (17 1/4 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

2 off 546 × 95 × 22mm (21 1/2 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

End fascia 4 off 940 × 95 x 22mm (37 x 3 3/4 x 7/8 in) Timber

2 off 222 × 89 × 12mm (8 3/4 × 3 1/2 × 1/2 in) Timber

Clad end 1 off 1308 × 95 × 22mm (51 1/2 × 3 3/4 × 7/8in) Timber

1 off 1130 × 95 × 22mm (44 1/2 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

1 off 940 × 95 × 22mm (37 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

1 off 737 × 25 × 25mm (29 × 1 × 1 in) segment

Make from 1285 × 89 × 16mm (506 × 3 1/2 × 5/8 in) shiplap cladding board

Horizontal side strips 2 off 1207 × 95 × 22mm (47 1/2 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

Inclined side strips 6 off 1207 x 95 x 22mm (47 1/2 x 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

Vertical side strips 4 off 432 × 95 × 22mm (17 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

Roof support strips 6 off 1230 × 41 × 22mm (48 3/8 × 1 5/8 × 7/8 in) Timber

Bench 2 off 781 × 95 × 22mm (30 3/4 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

7 off 305 × 95 × 22mm (12 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 n) Timber

2 off 279 × 95 × 22mm (11 × 3 3/4 × 7/8in) Timber

4 off 308 × 95 × 22mm (12 1/8 × 3 3/4 × 7/8 in) Timber

Ancillaries

2 off 1295mm (51 in) wide × 940mm (37in) long transparent corrugated plastic panels

36 off Roofing nails and waterproofing spats

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