This Instructable is a very simple version of a toy playset that I have recently seen around a lot. The idea behind it is that it provides a relatively blank canvas for a child's imagination. A child can play with whatever toys he wants on it and it can be whatever he wants it to be (i.e. a house, a tree fort, whatever).
The version I made is pretty sparse but you can add ladders, stairs, swings, pulleys, pretty much anything you want. Right now my son uses it for his peg people.
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Step 1: Tools and Supplies
You will need:
-A Sander (or sand paper and lots of elbow grease)
-A Drill with a Bit the same diameter as the dowel you intend to use
-A Large Board (or several smaller pieces)
-A Dowel Rod
One of the great things about this project is that you can make it from scraps. All of the wood in this project (including the dowels) I just happened to have around. You don't even need a lot and it doesn't even need to match.
Step 2: Cutting, Drilling, and Sanding the Pieces
I'm going to go ahead and put all of this into one step because I neglected to take comprehensive pictures and it's all pretty straight forward anyway.
First draw out and cut your board into the shapes you want. You don't even have to draw them first if you don't want to. Just go to town with your saw. Then cut your dowel rod into the lengths you want.
Tip: The shape is totally up to you, but consider avoiding sharp or pointy edges.
Drill the holes for your dowel rods. I tried to drill the holes deep enough to hold the dowels without going all the way through. Alternatively you could offset the dowel rod placement and just screw it together, but I didn't want any visible hardware.
At this point you can sand your surface pieces and they will be ready to go. I didn't bother sanding the dowel rod because it was already smooth. The bit that I cut was a little rough but it gets inserted into the holes so it doesn't matter.
Step 3: Gluing It Together
This step is pretty simple. Put some wood glue into the holes you drilled and insert the dowel. Wa-La! I started from the ground up and let each level cure before adding the next. First glue the bottom dowels in. After it dries glue the second level platforms on. After those dry add your next level of dowel rod. After that dries add your next level of platform.
Tip: If you make a platform like the single level one I made on the right, your child may decide it looks like a seat. This may result in it coming off and you having to re-glue it back on in a different direction so that he doesn't continue to sit on it.
Step 4: Play!
Your kids can use whatever toys they want on this! You can make them their very own peg people, or use action figures, or Barbies or whatever.
At this point I haven't added any extras, but you can always let your child's play dictate what extras to make; they're easy enough to add later.