Recently, I offered to help assembled a TP Wooden Multiplay Playhouse for a friend's 4 year old daughter. Being told that it was a wooden garden toy that came in pieces, I couldn't resist the chance to get involved.
Before getting started, I asked for the details I could pack a suitable toolkit. This photo duly followed:
Not too bad. I added some glue and sandpaper to the box. Looking at the reviews, these seemed positive with the fastest build time being 3 hours. This mattered as we planned to start at 2pm and the daylight deserts us around 5pm. My favourite was the "we got a box of sticks and had to pay someone to build it for us!!!" one - what exactly did they expect?
To help me, I enjoyed the assistance (or maybe I was the assistant) of the recipients grandfather, an engineer who enjoys some seriously high-quality woodwork. He also arrived with a more generous toolkit than the instructions suggested. We've both been caught out before...
Construction started well. The basic platform went togehter easily enough. There are a few things to pay attention too - the floor isn't in the middle of the uprights so you need to make sure you have everything the correct way up.
Most of the holes are drilled which is a massive help, but the screws are sometimes long - up to 16cm in several cases and my Bosch cordless screwdriver wasn't quite up to the job. Fortuantly, John's version was rather more powerful, saving loads of time, even if it didn't allow him to use his collection of Yankee screwdrivers very much.
We made a couple of mistakes along the way - the floor planks have cut-outs for the corners and so these were pushed well in leaving a lip along the edge over the main beams. This is wrong and we had to undo a little work to shove the planks over. Not a biggie.
We also (OK, I also) got a bit confused attaching the outside plank walls and managed to build one 90 degrees from where it should be. As it happens, this only required the removal of one long plank and it's replacement with a short one.
I enjoyed the build. It went together well, but you have to pay attention as you go. John insisted on being properly precise, marking wood with both pencil and square so we lined things up properly.
Build time was 2.5 hours - a world record but we don't want to boast about it. To be fair, the 2 cups of tea and 1 of diet coke were drunk as we worked so no breaks for us.
One modification we made was to fill in a hole in the side with a bit of spare plank (you can chose where the slide exists and have to shorten a plank to do this, leaving a bit of spare wood). It's not high and any landing would be on grass, but it's better to keep small children inside.
The big mystery is, why did we need spanners? There were no nuts and bolts in the pack and no indication any optional parts that would use them. (Update: The same tool list is in the swing set instructions as well and this DOES use bolts - presumably it is a standard graphic used for each set of instructions.)
If you are contemplating a build like this, get a massive cross-head screwdriver and a really powerful screwdriver. Ideally, you need 3mm drill bits about 6 inches long but we managed with normal ones - just.
The kit is well designed and all the parts numbered with little stickers that you can see on the finished building. Some de-stickering work there for Mum I think.I'm told the little one is thoroughly enjoying it though, so that counts as success.