Intro: Star Wars Tie Fighter Playhouse
I designed and built the external elements for this playhouse with a team from Orchard Supply Hardware. This is our entry in a fun competition with other local businesses raising money for Habitat for Humanity. It is held annually at San Jose California's "Christmas in the Park". Last year we created a minature OSH store Playhouse with oversized Candy decorations shown in another Instructable.
This year we chose a Star Wars theme and picked the unique Tie Fighter because it was best suited to become a cool and fun playhouse for kids. It is built on a standard wood Playhouse kit that CITP provides with few restrictions on how it can be modified or decorated. You can build or purchase a standard Playhouse kit so I'm just describing how it was transformed into a "Tie Fighter". I chose most of the materials from our stores. The entry side of the Playhouse features the sweetness of "Join us in the Dark Chocolate Side" and "We have Cookies" theme which is why it is painted a chocolate color with drips. The two primary Tie Fighter features are the Octagonal (8 sides) Port Window or Pilot Canopy and the Hexagonal (5 sides) Wings. There is also an Octagonal light fixture with an LED rotating "Party Light" and a white large metal ring to represent the round shape of the original Tie Fighter.
If you like our playhouse, please vote for it up to and before December 25, 2015 at: http://christmasinthepark.com/playhouse-voting.html
Step 1: Building the Wings
- 15 - 2"x2"x10' Wood
- 2 - 1/2" thick 12" diameter Wood Round
- 16 - Simpson corner Ties
- 4 - 3" ABS Plastic Toilet Flanges
- 1 - 3" diameter x 36" long ABS Plastic pipe cut in half
- 1 - Roll 1/2 opening x 50' Plastic Fencing
- 500 - 18 GA 2" nail brads
- 1 - Wood Glue
- 1 - Gallon Paint for everything, multiple colors as you chose
- 1 - Paint Brush
- Brad nailer, a cordless is best. You can hand nail if you don't have this tool
- Miter saw - You can use a Miter box but it will just take more time
- Utility knife
- Stapler with 3/8 deep staples
I used 2" x 2" wood because it was inexpensive, light to carry as an assembly, and not too overpowering a feature next to the Playhouse. I also didn't want to hide the playhouse by using more open hole fencing. You can use 2" x 4"'s and change the proportions. Another idea was to raise the playhouse and support it by more substantially built wings more like a Tie Fighter but we chose not to go to those extremes. Raising it like a tree house would add a much cooler factor. You don't need the Simpson Ties but they added a nice detail and were somewhat functional. They also hide bad miter cuts unless you are a great carpenter and take more time measuring and test fitting, The angles are basically 360 divided by 6 = 60 divided by 2 or 30 degrees. You can calculate the angles on paper or mock it up to fiigure out how tall you want the wings. You can also draw them on CAD if you have a program. I actually didn't make them equal angles because the original Tie Fighter Wings are taller and wider than an equal angle Hexagon. I used the cut, mock and cut, re-cut, etc. method. Once I had the perimeter Hexagon the size I wanted, I made the center "spokes", I made one of them continous and the rest separate radial from the center. Again, you don't need the round but it made a good ready made center attachment. A more original correct center would be Hexagonal shaped. You should make a temporary jig of sorts to control the angles. Once one was built, it was easier to duplicate and I layed the second on top of the first wing. On the opposite side of the round, I attached cut off ends of wire spools we had at the store. They have interesting details and felt they were better than anything I could purchase. Once the wood was glued and nailed together, I screwed the toilet flanges to the rounds and the house with the pipe between them. This was an easy attachment solution as you can push them together. Once the frame was done, we stapled the plastic fencing on the inner facing side and trimmed the excess with a utility knife and scissors. To add an interesting mount detail, I cut some grated rain gutter covers at angles and glued them around the toilet flange.
Step 2: Building the Port Window or Pilot Canopy
- 1 - 2" x 2"x 10' wood
- 3 - 3/4" x 1.5" x 36" finish hobby wood
- 1- large sheet of 1/8" Plexiglas (enough for all the windows)
- 1 - Lexell Adhesive
- 4 - Simpson "L" brackets
- 1 - Miter Saw
- 1 - Plastic scoring knife or Utility knife
- 1 - Paint
- 1 - Brush
Like the wings, I made angle cuts and mocked it up. The angles are basically 360 divided by 8 = 45 divided by 2 or 22.5 degrees. The window opening on the Playhouse kit was 18" tall by 12" so I made the diameter 18". If I were to remake this, I would have made it larger in proportions. Initially I searched for Octagonal ('70's) glass top end tables I could adapt. Instead, I wanted it to have that faceted form so I cut a smaller Octagon joined with wood pieces at angles to the larger Octagon. I used the smaller hobby wood to make the window more viewable. The downside was that it was harder wood and more difficult to nail through. This required more time grinding some nail heads and filling holes. After it was assembled, I sanded and painted it. I cut Plexiglas (acrylic) pieces and glued them with Lexanol adhesive (good for multiple materials including plastics). To cut the plastic, score them with a knife and snap them at the edge of a table. When building the frame, try to think of how the Plexiglas is mounted, I spent alot of time fitting pieces because the surfaces weren't flat to the glass. I also glued them under the frame which creates a recess for rain and leaves to collect. To attach it to the wall, I screwed four L brackets to the frame. Apply adhesive sealer before screwing it to the wall.
Step 3: Lighting
You may not want lighting for your playhouse but since this was displayed in a Christmas day and night event, we added lights. I found this octagonal fixture that worked perfectly with the octagonal window. It was to represent the laser gun. Initially I was going to mount two below the window, it looked and filled the space better above and below the roof peak. It wouldn't fit our new rotating LED multi-color Party Bulb so I had to modify it. I removed the bulb holder, mount, and drilled a 3" hole. Then I mounted a light fixture on an L bracket behind so it protruded halfway out the hole. It was very bright at night so I installed the frosted glass which produced a nice colorful glow.
I mounted rope lights to the wings with tie wraps and masked the rope where it went into the house to the powerr strip. I also mounted a laser projector light inside that projected out the windows. I also added red rope lights under the eaves of the roof. .
Step 4: Conclusion
The interior was painted black with radial star streaks at the window to simulate Hyper Speed and Tie Fighter snowflakes painted through hand cut stencils. I hope you found this Instructable inspiring and useful, I tried to upload more pictures but they came in black.
I'm looking forward to building another Playhouse next year.