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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Swing-set

This week I am working on a rather large outdoor project. I have been planning to landscape around my big dollhouse for at least 2 or 3 years. If you haven't seen it the very first video on my channel is a picture tour of my Harrison. That was done 3 years ago and I really haven't had time to do much with it since. I was really lucky in that my uncle had an old kitchen table he wanted to get rid of. It instantly became the home base for the Harrison. I have this all set up in a large area outside of my bedroom. There is not a lot of extra area for a front yard (that will be a modest size) but I do have room to make a decent side yard. I am not sure yet how the house will sit in relationship to the sides of the landscape. I have way more things that I would like to include than there will be room for.

One requirement will be that the yard be to have an area for the 2 kids that live there to play. The twins that live in the house are about 5 or 6 years old so I want to have things for them to play on in the yard.

One of the larger pieces will be the swing set. So I was inspired to work on that this week. I think making the fire pit and s'mores got me in the mood to do some outside projects.

I decided that I wanted to make a metal style swing-set (like my 2 older kids had when they were little) These have been around for decades and are still available so this project although large spans a lot of time. If you have the room you can even go bigger and make a playground style swing with more seats. Just add a third leg unit and expand it as long as you want.

I decided to make mine about 7 ½” tall because seems to be what I remember the one my boys had being. To help me get the two “A” shaped leg units the same I made a diagram on graph paper that I could use to aid in gluing. By taping the unit to the graph paper to glue on the cross piece it helped a lot in keeping them consistent. Here is the diagram I used. Hopefully it makes sense and will help you in gluing your end pieces together.

The cross piece was glued on 3” up from the bottom simply because it seemed to look right at that height. 

While the ends were drying I made the top piece that the swings would hang from. I decided that the chains from the seats would need to be 1” apart. I then decided to place the first chain 2” from the end (seemed like it would look like a safe distance from the ends) and made a mark. Now the second chain 1” away. That took care of the first swing seat. Now over 2” and mark the next hole, over 1” again and then 2” to the other end. This came out to a total of 8”. This part was first done on paper then after cutting the wood for this part I actually measured in from each end to make sure it was all balanced and even.

The holes for the head pins that the chain will attach to (and also for the swing seats were drilled with a 1/16” drill bit.

I did end up adding some extra bracing to the top (you see this step in the video) I do admit that I was actually working out the details of this project as I went since I really didn't want to make up one first and then make one on the video. For most projects that is how I work, if I am showing you how to make something I haven't made before I end up making 2, one before filming to iron out details and one on camera to show you. For this and some of the other larger projects that just isn't practical so I do have to make changes as I film, like the extra bracing on tom.

After I put the head pins in and made some loops for the chains to later hook onto I painted my structure with some Aluminum colored spray paint. This covered up the stripes on the straw parts I had used at the top to make the curve and blended all the parts together. The paint also seems to make the structure a little firmer too.

Next I figured out that I wanted the seats to be a little over 1” each, I used some craft sticks and drew lines to drill holes on 1” apart. I find if I try to cut things like this before drilling I end up splitting the wood when I drill the holes. If I drill then cut to size I usually have no problems. I tried to use some 18 ga wire but found it was just too hard to work with so I went with the spool wire (28 ga) simply for ease of working with it. I am making hard seats like the plastic ones my older son's swing had not the soft rubber ones like are more common now. I am sure you can use some fabric and large jump rings to make those seats if you want to.
I used whatever chain was in my drawer, I know it was cheap but I don't know anything else about it. I probably picked it up on a sale, I do try to pick up various chains to use in mini projects when it comes on sale. Another good source for cheap chain is cheap jewelry either from garage sales, thrift stores or the dollar store. Just keep your eyes open when you are out shopping.

Since my chain was cheap I cut it long enough to cut it down to size later. Just like in real life I figured out on one chain how long to make it and then counted the links to make the second side match. Just open the loops we made on the top rail to insert the the chain.

It was a lot easier to clear coat the seats in place rather than before installing them since I could hold the chain and then didn't have to figure out where to set them to dry.

I did discover that I needed to use that sticky stuff that is meant for hanging posters to help the kids to sit on the seats with out falling off for the pictures.

Cutting list:
Legs: 3/16th” dowel, 7 ½” long (cut two for each end unit)
Straw piece cut 1” from bendy portion on both ends (cut 1 per end unit)
Cross piece 2 ¾” long (cut 1 per cross piece) cut from skinny stick
Top end brace 1” (cut 2 per end unit) cut from skinny stick

Remember you need at least 2 end units to make the swing set as shown.

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