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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We added a branch that extends out for our swing.
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.
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.
We even cut a “mouse leather hide” for the floor. Also note the blue in the window. The chairs were purchased from Fairy Furnishings.
Mateo was pretty impressed. I was too! I hope this woodland home stays in our family for generations!