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Pegboard, shoelaces, and square knots ... these play shelters couldn't be simpler.

Pegboard, shoelaces, and square knots . . . these play shelters couldn't be simpler

Square knots and shoelaces are the glue and nails that hold together these pintsize Western store- and tepee-shaped playhouses. The walls are made of pegboard (a tempered hardboard) with perforations that let in enough light for children to play in--even if they close doors, shutters, or tepee flaps for privacy. The holes also let young artists use heavy yarn to weave decorative patterns or letter their own signs on the outsides.

It'll take you a few hours to lay and cut out either of the easy-to-make projects (designed by Marge Rector of Jam Designs, Sausalito, California)--and about another hour to assemble it. The only power tools needed are a circular and a saber saw and an electric drill. You'll also need a rasp and medium sandpaper, to finish rough edges.

As building materials go, 1/4-inch tempered pegboard is reasonable: each 4- by 8-foot sheet costs about $12. There are a few negative points, however: it's heavy, it disintegrates if left outside in wet weather, and sharp corners can snap. After cutting, we rounded all corners to avoid damage.


You'll need three sheets of pegboard for the store, two for the tepee. Both projects also require 12-inch lengths of leather ties. Cut these from 48-inch boot laces (about $2 a pair); each pair provides 8 ties. For the store, cut 68 ties (9 pairs); for the tepee, 18 (3 pairs).

For the store, you'll also need two 1 1/2-inch-diameter wooden drawer pulls and two 47 1/2-inch-long 1-by-2s. For the tepee, buy enough 3/4-inch dowel to be cut into three 67-inch continuous lengths and one 22 1/4-inch length. For both, you'll need latex paint in one or two colors.


Following the diagrams on page 78, copy the design for the store or tepee into the rough side of the pegboard panels. (Except along diagonal cuts, there should be no holes within 3/8 inch of any straight side.) Cut out all pieces. (Clamp down a straight board to help make long cuts.) You'll probably need hlep: the pegboard is heavy and awkward to move.

You'll have to make inside cuts for the store's door and windows. If you use a circular saw, position the blade above the center of each line to be cut; then, with the saw running and the front of the blade guide resting on the pegboard surface, slowly lower the blade through the wood and finish cutting. Use the saber saw to make the four small notches in the top of the side panels for the 1-by-2s.

Round all corners with saber saw or rasp and lightly sand all edges. Paint one side of the awning and sign; pain both sides of doors and shutters and the tepee's flaps.

For the tepee, use a 1/4-inch bit to drill a hole through each 67-inch-long dowel, 16 1/2 inches from one end. Drill parallel holes through the 22 1/4-inch deowel, 1, 3, and 5 1/4 inches from one end.

Putting it all together

Assembly requires an adult, but children will have fun tying the square knots.

Assembling the store. Butt the back piece against one of the side walls, making sure the rough sides face in. Use three ties per corner (near top, center, and bottom); thread each through a hole in the outermost row of each panel, and tie so knots show on the outside. Repeat to connect the other side panel to the back.

Position the taller front panel so it overlaps each side by three rows of holes, then tie it on. Reinforce the front corners by tying triangles C into them. Place them horizontally, slightly below midpoint, so they can serve as shelves.

The store's small awning rests on three triangular braces (A and B). From the top of the front panel, count down 12 rows of holes; position the smallest triangle (B) vertically--with its right angle at the bottom --so that its topmost hole lines up with the holes in the 12th row from the top. Center the triangle over the door, and tie it to the front panel at top and bottom.

Position the two larger triangles (A) near where the awning's ends will be. Tie the topmost hole of each to the 12th row of holes, and tie their bottoms in place, too. Add the awning, tying it to both the store's front (along row 11) and the traingle braces.

Slip the 1-by-2s into the notches in the side panels, then center and tie on the roof. Run ties around each 1-by-2 and secure each to the roof.

Write the store's name in yarn on the sign panel, and center it above the awning. The shutters and front doors (with wooden pulls for handles) are minly decorative, but they can pivot and be opened and shut if you leave enough slack in the ties.

Assembling the tepee. Lean the two largest sides (A and B), smooth sides facing out, together along a side seam. Place one of the long dowels (drilled end at the top) along the inside of the seam; thread a tie through the hole and out through each side panel, and tie pole to panels with a square knot. At the center and the bottom of the seam, loop another tie around the pole and secure it through the panels. Using the two other poles, attach the two abbreviated sides (C and D) in the same way. Poles should cross at the top.

Thread separate ties through the three holes in the short pole (which fits above the corner opening); then, working from the inside, thread the ties through holes along the butter sides, and tie to secure this last corner.

Add the flaps to the sides, using three ties each; tie them loose enough to allow flaps to swing closed. For exterior decoration, you can paint the outside with permanent designs or let the youngsters thread yarn through the pegboard's holes.

A few reminders: neither playhouse can be left outdoors in we weather; check the ties periodically to make sure the knots are holding and the laces are still in good condition; and store panels flat to prevent warping.

Photo: Adobe brown tempered hardboard makes the walls; colorfully painted panels add flair as shutters, doors, sign, awning, and tepee flaps.

For the store, children can make the sign by threading yarn through the dark-painted signboard. Knobby pulls open the double doors; windows can be cut to suit the store owners.

Simpler in design, the tepee has four sides. Its flaps pivot into place. As with the store, the children can decorate the sides with designs of their own (to make for easier threading of the yarn, suggest they wrap the ends with 2 to 3 inches of tape).

It's always easy to change the storekeeper's name, turn store into a post office or saloon, or modify the tepee decoration

Photo: A lesson in tying square knots will help youngsters "build' the playhouses. Drawings below may remind adults of the proper technique themselves

Photo: Sure-handed adults can make long cuts without using guide. Draw lines on rouch sides; mark pieces with masking tape before cutting

Photo: Store

The store uses three sheets of hardboard and wastes little. Center the lines for doors and shutters between rows of holes. Take extra care when making the window openings; you'll use the cutout squares to make small triangles that brace the awning and reinforce two interior corners. Note notches for roof-supporting 1-by-2s

Photo: Tepee

Made from two sheets of hardboard, the tepee has two full-width triangles and two just over half-width. Enter through the gap between the bases of the abbreviated sides. The 6 1/2-inch-wide opening in the top leaves enough room for the poles to poke through. Lay out angled sides so fewest holes are cut
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 1, 1987
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