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Assembling a Wooden Playhouse - Tools and Tips

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So - you've read our wooden playhouse guide, checked out the feature on wooden playhouse bases, had a good look at our article on protecting and decorating your wooden playhouse, read all about choosing a wooden playhouse - not forgetting about wooden playhouse safety - and gone ahead and ordered your new wooden playhouse.

You'll be getting delivery in anything from a few days to a few weeks and it can't be denied that these are exciting, perhaps impatient, times. A good time in fact to plan the process of assembling/installing your wooden playhouse and checking you have the tools you need to make this a straightforward, stress free process.

It's true that many playhouses come with an installation option available and if you've purchased such a service there's probably no need for you to read any further. In many cases however installation options may only be available in certain areas or the cost may make them unattractive. So if you don't have the luxury of someone to assemble your wooden playhouse for you, you can expect it to be delivered flat packed, with full instructions ready for diy home assembly.

Tools

In most cases you shouldn't need more than a few basic woodworking tools to make assembly a reasonably straightforward exercise. If you don't have these already you can buy them from the diy stores listed at the side of this page. You should have time to order and have them delivered while you're waiting for the playhouse to arrive.

The first tool you should be thinking of is a hammer - "if in doubt use a hammer" the saying goes and for wooden playhouse assembly it will be invaluable. Although construction methods vary from playhouse to playhouse it is inevitable that at some point it will be necessary to nail a component into place, attach roofing felt by means of galvanised nails or simply use some gentle persuasion to move a component into place. You won't need anything fancy - a basic hammer for a few pounds from any diy supplier should do the trick.

The hammer is closely followed by a screwdriver. We'd suggest two in fact - one cross headed and one slotted or flat blade. Most wooden playhouses will use cross headed or dual headed screws in the assembly process but you might find one or two slot head screws rather annoyingly tucked in there. Even if this isn't the case you may find you need to carry out some small levering jobs for which the slot head screwdriver will be invaluable. You might well find that a mind boggling amount of screws are involved, especially if your wooden playhouse doesn't come with pre-formed wall panels. In this case it's a great help if your screwdriver is of the electric variety. Again this needn't cost the earth - it's true it will set you back a little more than a couple of hand driven screwdrivers but by the time you've screwed in the umpteenth screw you'll wonder what you'd have done without it. And its a tool that you'll always have and which will come in handy again and again. You can find one at any diy store and Argos always have a good competitively priced selection.

A hammer and a screwdriver or two are the minimum basic tools you will need - always check your playhouse assembly instructions to see what that particular model calls for.

The next tool we'd recommend is a craft knife. This can come in handy for anything from cutting packaging (particularly plastic ties) to removing small irregularities in the playhouse wood. For the last mentioned purposes we'd also suggest sandpaper in coarse to medium grades.

Not all wooden playhouse will call for the use of a hand saw but some may require components to be cut to size. It should also be remembered that wood is a natural material and despite the best efforts of manufactures variations in measurements and finish can occur. Often a hand saw is useful to carry out some measurement fine tuning to ensure a snug fit to the components of the playhouse.

Also useful - and essential in the case of some playhouses is a drill with a small selection of drill bits. Most playhouse components will be pre drilled but there are usually one or two points at which a drill may be required. It's also useful where the pre-drilled hole might not have been correctly formed - something which has been known to happen even with top range playhouses.

As in the case of screwdrivers a hand drill can be purchased a a cost of a few pounds. An electric drill can however save a lot of elbow grease and frustration and once again will be an invaluable tool to serve you for many years. If you're thinking about an electric drill, a cordless model is much easier to work with, especially with an outdoor project such as a wooden playhouse, and can be combined with a power screwdriver if you opt for a drill driver set. All the suppliers listed at the side of the page will have a good selection and Argos are usually worth a bet.

You should also have a spirit level and tri square so you can make sure that your playhouse sits square and level.

Moving on - if your wooden playhouse is one of the larger varieties you might need a stepladder to stand on either to put the roof in place or to fix the roofing felt. You won't need this with the smaller playhouses but there are some large buildings out there.

Some of the larger playhouses, especially those incorporating platforms and playcentres will be held together in part by nuts and bolts or square headed screws. To assemble these you'll need spanners - usually a couple of adjustable wrenches will do the job. A socket set with a selection of commonly fitting sockets should speed up the process.

Lastly, but far from least important - a pair of safety goggles is strongly advised - especially if you're to be using power tools in the assembly process.
If you've all these tools at your disposal you should be able to rise to any challenges that wooden playhouse assembly may throw at you - although, seriously, assembly is usually very straightforward and simple in the case of all but the most complex buildings. Having attended to the tools required, are there any other steps you can take to make the process of installing your wooden playhouse even easier?

Tips

Firstly - have a clear idea of what you are doing. It sounds obvious - and it is - but it's something that can easily be overlooked in the excitement to get your new playhouse ready for use. Read the instructions carefully and make sure you know what you are trying to achieve. It may not be too much of an issue in a small wooden playhouse with pre-formed panels and roof but just diving into the assembly of a double storey playhouse with an internal bunk, steps and all the trimmings can so easily lead to hours of frustration and wasted time in undoing incorrectly assembled sections and potential damage to components.

Sometimes a supplier will make the playhouse assembly instructions available online. This gives you an opportunity to study them at leisure before the playhouse is delivered so you're ready to hit the ground running.

Make sure you have all the parts - it may seem to be a tedious chore to check all the parts and hardware you will have received against the inventory in the instructions, but there is little more frustrating than finding an essential component is missing three quarters of the way through the assembly process. In addition, if you jump into assembly without doing this you'll never be sure if the part was really missing or if you've managed to lose it or install it in the wrong place. If you do find a part missing you should contact the suppliers immediately and postpone construction of the playhouse until its received.

Decoration and preservation - it's tempting to think you will just do this once everything's been put together. Don't kid yourself. Most playhouses arrive with only a pre-delivery dip treatment which means that you must apply a decorative/preservative finish at the time of assembly (see the feature on Decorating and Preserving your Wooden Playhouse). It's much easier to apply these treatments and finishes to the components before they're all assembled. With paints and other decorative finishes it will be nearly impossible to reach all the nooks and crannies of the playhouse once it's been assembled and the expansion and contraction of the wood will continually reveal undecorated parts. Not only is this unsightly, exposure of unfinished areas can lead to premature deterioration of the structure.

Make room to work - There's nothing worse than trying to maneuver and assemble unwieldy playhouse components in a restricted area. Assemble the playhouse outdoors in an area where there's plenty of room. Spread everything out so you can easily reach the parts you need when you need them.

Many hands make light work - it is possible to assemble a smaller playhouse single handedly but its not advised, both from a safety and a convenience standpoint. The minimum recommended personnel for playhouse construction is two adults. More might be desirable in the case of larger playhouses. By all means let the children help but make sure they are properly supervised and keep them away from your tools.

Remember - it's important from a safety point of view that your wooden playhouse is properly assembled in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. Not only will this reduce the risk of accident but it will ensure a long life for the building if coupled with proper preservation and decoration. Many manufacturers and suppliers provide a helpline in case of difficulty - if you're in doubt about anything don't hesitate to call for help.

And once it's properly built - enjoy your new wooden playhouse!.
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