Winner of the Project of the month: April 2018

Winner of the Project of the month: April 2018

With the most votes, the winner of April 2018 is woodworking_engineering


Background story by woodworking_engineering

Why did you build this project?

When I was a little kid, I used to spend my summer in a small country house. We had an olive tree with a playhouse (just three boards, actually). My friends and I spent endless hours and days on that tree. It was a very funny, creative and important moment of my life, I guess it’s one of the most important steps that made me grow up as I am now. So, I could not deprive my son of this amazing experience 🙂

What are the main materials that you used?

The materials are pretty simple. I just used a set of fir lumbers, plus tongue-and-groove boards for the flooring.

In order to avoid the kids to fell down, I installed a fish net from real fishermen: that ensures to have transparent but safe walls.

I like to use natural and ecological materials: all the wood structures are covered with a water-based penetrating sealer, to keep everything the more ecological I can. The kids will play on it most of the time with bare feet and hands, so I wanted to make it the safer I could.

Which tools and machines were important in building this project?

I guess I just used the miter saw, tape measure, plus a couple of cordless drills to predrill and tighten the screws. The construction is way simpler it may seem.

Can you give us a short overview of the building process?

The structure is the part I spent the most time, at least for the design step.
In this project, I wanted to do something weird, something everything could ask himself: How did they build it! How can it stay up! On the other end, I wanted to make the lightest structure I could.
I’m a professional engineer, and I like to apply engineering concept to the ancient art of woodworking.
I also started a YouTube channel where I explain my approach to woodworking.

For example, this project is fully UNI EN 1176, UNI EN 1177, UNI EN 11123 complaint, #nerdalert 😁
Those regulations ensure playhouses and toys are safe for our kids. Although it seems very weird to use them in simple, domestic projects, they are quite simple yet powerful. They seem hard but, at the end of the day, they propose reasonable things like: the handrails should be 60 to 80 cm high, to avoid kids to fall down and to hang up; flooring should not be horizontal, to avoid water to become stagnant; borders should be beveled; and some more simple things like that. So… why not?

The playhouse flooring lays on a lozenge structure that rests on just 2 stands: the olive tree on one side and a truss pillar on the other side. I did not drill any hole on the tree (no trees were harmed in the making of this playhouse… well, except for the trees used to make the lumbers 🙂

The truss pillar has a small pile foundation: two long iron pipe sunk in the ground.

The trusses ensure the structure to be incredibly light and thin, while still very rigid. The lumbers are just 4x7cm indeed. With a truss, the entire structure contribute to the resistance, even the handrail has a structural behavior.

Without the trusses, I should have used larger and heavier lumbers.

Are you satisfied with the result or would you change anything if you could?

Yes, I’m satisfied, and I’m happy to see my son and his friends to enjoy it 🙂

The original project actually had an additional rope bridge and a slide, but I like to see it as a modular project, so I can always add more pieces 🙂 But the next thing is to reuse a couple of old pulleys to build a drawbridge :)​

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