DIY Toy Tree House

Build, Kids, Play, Projects
DIY toy tree house

This DIY toy tree house, with a simple, open design, sets the stage for hours of pretend play. Incorporating natural elements of wood rounds and branches creates a wonderland for fairies, forest animals and other small figures. 

Every year, Gpa, our personal Santa, makes hand-crafted wooden toys for my kids. We’ve loved our take-apart Dusty airplane and fighter jet (from the Disney Planes movies) and cars with car carrier. For my fairy and forest animal loving daughter, the North Pole created a toy tree house.

We decided on a simple shape to foster open-ended play and imagination. Since the DIY toy tree house will live in my daughter’s room, we chose a small footprint with multiple levels using wood rounds leftover from our reversible pumpkin snowman project. We wanted to use small branches for fun play elements including a swing, elevator, stairs and ladder. With those basic guidelines, Gpa headed to the workshop.

Child playing with DIY toy tree house

Although my daughter loves color, we decided to leave the toy tree house natural. Later, we may add craft paint and a clear sealer. Both kids love our DIY toy tree house. I expected the kids to move fairies and animals into the tree house, and was surprised when some LEGO minifigures and Disney Cars also took up residence.

@creativelyhome

✨🌳DIY Toy Tree House 🌳✨ We created a beautiful and fun tree house for my daughter’s room. She loves arranging her fairies, animals, and even LEGO minifigs! Search “tree house” at creativelyhome.com for details. #fairyhouse #woodentoys #playscape #diy #diyprojects #diyprojectideas #doityourself #diyideas #crafty #feelingcrafty #craftymom #doityourselfproject #imadethis #kidsactivities #diytoys

♬ Happiness All Around – Audiosphere

Check out some other DIY projects for kids’ play:

Choosing Wood for the DIY Toy Tree House

We chose no added formaldehyde plywood for our DIY toy tree house in two thicknesses: 3/4″ for the base and 1/2″ for the tree. The thicker 3/4″ base gives extra weight on the bottom.

This was our first time using no added formaldehyde plywood. We found no differences from regular plywood.

DIY Toy Tree House – Materials

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Supplies:

  • one 3/4″ x 2′ x 4′ formaldehyde-free plywood sheet for base and supports
  • one 1/2″ x 2′ x 4′ formaldehyde-free plywood sheet for tree
  • paper for pattern
  • clear tape
  • sandpaper, 80-, 100- and 220-grit
  • 3/4″ thick wood rounds
  • wood glue
  • #8 interior screws in 1″, 1 1/4″, and 1 3/4″ lengths
  • felt
  • white glue

Tools:

  • scissors
  • woodworking clamps
  • jigsaw (or scroll saw)
  • drill with drill, countersink and screwdriver bits
  • 3/4″ spade bit (or larger)
  • screwdriver
  • safety goggles
  • face mask

How to Make a DIY Toy Tree House 

1. Design DIY Toy Tree House and Draw Pattern

Sketch the treehouse design and layout, including placement of rooms and cut-outs (if any).

Draw toy tree house outline on paper to create a full size pattern. Take into account the size of the figures living in the tree house. Our tree house is 21″ tall and 16″ wide.

Cut out the pattern and attach on 1/2″ plywood with clear tape.

Repeat for base using 3/4″ plywood. We designed the base with scalloped edges and a straight back to sit flush against a wall. Our finished base is 16″ wide and 12″ deep.

2. Cut and Sand Tree and Base Plywood

Cut plywood along pattern for DIY toy tree house

Clamp 1/2″ plywood for tree, with affixed pattern, to workbench or table. Using a jigsaw, cut along the pattern lines, moving clamps if necessary. A scroll saw also works and doesn’t require clamps. Sand all cut edges and surfaces.

Repeat to cut the base from 3/4″ plywood.

3. Optional: Add Cut-outs to Tree

If adding cut-outs, draw the shape on the tree in pencil. Clamp the tree, front-side up, to workbench with cut-out section extending beyond the workbench edge.

Select spade drill bit large enough for jigsaw blade to fit into the hole (3/4″ worked for our jigsaw). Using spade drill bit, drill into the middle of the cut-out until the bit’s center pokes through the bottom.

Flip tree over, re-clamp and continue drilling the hole with the spade bit. (Flipping the tree at the mid-point, rather than drilling all the way through, reduces splintering.)

Create cut-out in DIY toy tree house by cutting along outline with jigsaw

Flip tree so front-side faces up and re-clamp. Insert jigsaw into the drilled hole and cut along pencil line. Sand all edges and surfaces.

4. Attach Tree to Base

To provide extra strength and stability to the DIY toy tree house, we added braces to each side of the tree (rather than just screwing the base onto the tree).

Cut two rectangular braces from 3/4″ plywood measuring 3″ high and the same width as the base (ours is 16″ wide). Style the braces however you like. We cut a scalloped edge on the front brace using a jigsaw.

For the back, we traced the tree trunk onto the brace. Then, cut along the lines with a jigsaw so the brace didn’t show behind the tree.

Sand all edges and surfaces.

Attach tree to front brace

Clamp tree and front brace together, making sure the bottom edges are flush. Drill several countersunk pilot holes through the back of the tree into the front brace. Attach tree and front brace with 1″ screws.

Place the base perpendicular to back brace. Drill countersunk pilot holes through back brace into tree base. Secure with 1 1/4″ screws. Then clamp tree and front brace to back brace. Drill countersunk pilot holes through back brace, tree and front brace, avoiding the screws holding the tree to front brace.

Attach back base to diy toy tree house

Secure with 1 3/4″ screws. Drill countersunk pilot holes through the bottom of the tree base into the tree. Attach with screws.

Add felt to bottom of DIY toy tree house

To prevent the the tree from scratching the floor, cover the base bottom with felt. Cut felt shape to match base. Attach with white glue.

5. Attach Wood Round Rooms to DIY Toy Tree House

Use purchased wood rounds, or cut 3/4″-1″ thick rounds from 5″-7″ diameter tree branch using mitre box.

Cut back off wood rounds

After determining placement and size of each room, cut the back of the wood round end so it sits flat against the tree. Clamp wood round and metal guide to workbench and cut using a jigsaw.

Hold wood round in place on tree front, and drill 2 countersunk pilot holes from the back into the round. Test fit the screw to make sure the head is recessed. Apply glue to rounds, hold in place against tree and insert 1″ screws, making sure to align the screw with the pilot holes in the rounds. Wipe excess glue with rag.

Add wood rounds to DIY toy tree  house to create rooms

Repeat for each room.

6. Add Features to the DIY Toy Tree House

We added a swing, a ladder, an elevator, steps and a cave.

Swing

Add swing with pony beads to DIY toy tree house

Materials:

  • 1/2″ diameter twig, around 4 1/2″ long
  • 1/8″ basswood plywood sheet
  • hand pull saw
  • drill with drill bits
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • nylon cord
  • wood glue
  • optional: pony beads

Cut a 1″ x 2″ swing seat from 1/8″ plywood using hand saw. Use a drill bit larger than the cord diameter to drill 2 holes through the seat – 1/4″ from the edge. Sand all sides and edges.

Drill hole to attach swing to DIY toy tree house

Mark where twig will attach to tree. Drill through the tree using a bit equal to the twig’s diameter. Sand twig until it fits into the hole. Dry fit twig in place and mark 2 spots on twig to hold the swing cords.

Drill holes through twig

Remove twig and drill 2 holes through the twig, slightly larger than the cord diameter.

Knot the cord end and thread onto swing seat. We added extra pizzazz to the cords with pony beads. Thread cord through pony beads, then up through hole in twig. Feed cord down through second twig hole, through more pony beads, then down through the seat. Adjust to desired length. Tie off.

To prevent cord from fraying, hold end close to a match or lighter flame until end melts. Be careful as this is very hot. Apply wood glue to twig and hole, then insert twig until flush with tree back.

Ladder

Add ladder to DIY Toy Tree House

Materials:

  • forked twig
  • 1/8″ basswood plywood sheet
  • hand pull saw
  • drill with drill bit
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • 2 lengths of nylon cord, approximately 12″ long
  • wood glue
  • screwdriver
  • screws

Follow swing seat instructions to cut, drill holes in, and sand five 1″ x 2″ ladder rungs.

Knot the bottom of each nylon cord and add a rung. About 1 1/2″ up each cord, aiming for the same distance, tie a loose knot and add a second rung. Repeat to attach all rungs to the ladder. Leave knots loose, so they can be adjusted later.

Ladder attached to twig

Drill a hole through each twig fork, slightly larger than cord diameter. Thread ladder cord through twig forks and knot to secure. Adjust knots under each rung so rungs are level and evenly spaced.

Melt ends of cord to prevent fraying

Melt cord ends to prevent fraying.

Drill hole under room to attach ladder to DIY toy tree house

Attach forked twig as described for the swing above, or attach under a wood round. Directly beneath one of the wood round “rooms,” mark where twig will attach to tree. Drill about halfway through tree using a bit the same diameter as the twig. Sand twig end until it fits in the hole.

Dry fit twig in tree hole. Drill pilot hole through twig into the wood round. Add glue to twig end and hole under wood round, then insert twig. Screw through twig into round.

Elevator

Add ladder to DIY toy tree house

Materials:

Cut desired length of shoelace or nylon cord. Knot cord end and add wood wheel to cord. If necessary, drill out the center hole so the cord fits through the wheel. Melt cord end.

Using hand saw, cut 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ piece from plywood.

Clamp plywood to underside of wood round. Drill pilot holes through plywood piece into wood round. Place cord between plywood and wood round. Secure with screws.

Steps

Add steps for DIY toy tree house

Materials:

Cut twig into four or five 1 1/2″ steps using hand saw. With coarse sand paper, flatten the back of each step to sit flat against the tree.

Holding the step in place on the tree, drill a pilot hole through the tree back about halfway into the twig. Apply glue to twig. Hold in place and hammer tack into the step. Wipe excess glue with rag. Repeat for remaining steps.

Cave

Cave with figures on DIY toy tree

Materials:

  • 3/4″-1″ wood round
  • drill with drill bit
  • 1/2″ diameter twig
  • wood glue

We made a “cave” by adding a support to the front of a wood round. Make a straight cut on the back of the wood round as described above.

Drill shallow holes to hold post for cave

Drill 1/4″ into the bottom of the wood round using a drill bit slightly larger than the twig diameter. Holding round and twig in place, mark where twig touches the base. At that spot, drill 1/4″ into the base using drill bit slightly larger than twig. Dry fit the twig and trim twig length if necessary.

Attach cave to DIY toy tree house

Holding support and round in place, follow directions above for drilling pilot holes through tree back into wood round. Apply glue to all attachment points on twig, tree base, round and tree back. Hold round in place and attach with screws.

How to Involve Kids in Making a DIY Toy Tree House

If not a surprise gift, kids can design the tree and help make the non-tool elements like threading the ladder and swing, sanding edges or gluing the steps in place. Use your judgment as to how much to involve kids with drilling (and make sure to tie back long hair). All cutting should be left to adults.

DIY toy tree house