A toy basement barn can teach children how food gets from ground to table. Use it as a prop at the end of a farm life unit study. Children can act out portions of "Charlotte's Web," "Little House in the Big Woods" or "Caddie Woodlawn." Research the different types of barns, and learn why the features of each one differ. Add your barn to a garden scale miniatures layout, complete with roads, ponds, streams and trains. This article assumes that the reader has access to a fully-equipped workshop and has significant experience with the correct and safe use of power tools, hand tools and safety equipment, including table saw use to rip and mitre wood and router use to cut dados, which are grooves down the centre of the length of a piece of wood.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Table saw with rip fence and mitre gauge
- Carpenter's try square
- Power drill, 1/8-inch diameter bit
- Tack hammer
- Four 6-inch wide by 24-inch long by 1/4-inch plywood pieces for the roof
- One 24-inch by 24-inch sheet of 1/2-inch plywood for the closed barn side
- Two 12-inch by 23 1/2-inch sheets of 1/2-inch plywood for the open barn side
- Two 24-inch by 36-inch sheets of 1/2-inch plywood for the barn ends
- Box of 1-inch tack nails
- Box of 1/2-inch tack nails
- Red and black acrylic paint
- Two 1/2-inch by 1/4-inch by 24-inch wood strips
- Two 1/2-inch by 1/4-inch by 36-inch wood strips
- One sheet of 24-inch by 36-inch by 1/4-inch plywood for the loft floor
- Box of craft sticks
- Instant adhesive
- Two 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch by 24-inch wood pieces for the barn door tracks
- Two 36-inch long piano hinges, with 3/8-inch tacks for the roof
Check the corners of all the boards with a carpenter's try square to be sure that they all make 90 degree angles. Adjust the angles using a rip fence and mitre gauge on your table saw until they are all 90 degrees.
Turn the 24-inch by 36-inch sheets of 1/2-inch thick plywood so that 36 inches is the vertical side. Measure 24 inches from the bottom right and bottom left and make a mark. Snap a chalk line between the two marks at 24 vertical inches. This will create the baseline for the top half of a regular nonagon, which is the shape of the roof line of the barn.
Mark the centre point of the chalk line, and the centre point of the top edge of the 24-inch by 36-inch plywood sheets. Snap a chalk line between those two points --- this will be the peak of the roof. Use the photo of the angles of a folded-paper nonagon to make a template for the roof shape. Use a mitre gauge to create the shape defined by angle COE, with O being the centre point of a regular nonagon, and by equal-length line segments CH, HG, GF, and FE. The chalk line across the 24-inch by 36-inch board represents a 24 inch long line segment between point C and point E, which does not pass through the centre point of the regular nonagon. The angles defined by points CHG, HGF and GFE are 140 degrees. Mark this on the 24-inch by 36-inch plywood sheet, above the chalk line.
After you have cut the two end pieces to shape, place the 1/2-inch by 1/4-inch by 24-inch wood strips along each chalk line and secure them using 1/2-inch tacks. These will become supports for the floor of the barn loft. Place one 1/2-inch by 1/4-inch by 24-inch wood strip flush along the edge of the 24-inch by 24-inch sheet of 1/2-inch plywood near the top to make the third loft floor support.
Use a router to make a 1/4-inch wide, 1/4-inch deep dado in one face of each of the 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch by 24-inch wood pieces. The dado is used as a support for shelves, or as a guide for sliding doors.
Use 1-inch tacks to assemble the two half-nonagon ends and one side of the barn. Place the half-nonagon-roofed barn ends between the sides. This will allow the sliding doors to open and close freely after they are in place. Place one of the 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch by 24-inch wood pieces against the barn ends with its dado facing toward the roof, and the second 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch by 24 -inch wood piece with its dado facing the floor, flush with the ends of the barn. Tack into place. Slide the two 12-inch by 23 1/2-inch pieces of wood between the dados. These are your sliding barn doors.
Place the remaining 1/2-inch by 1/4-inch by 24-inch wood strip flush along the inside of the top edge of the sliding door frame. Set the loft floor into place on the supports. If you want, cut a square hole in the loft floor and add a ladder.
Cut the round ends off all the craft sticks. Paint all craft sticks white and use as trim around barn doors and windows. Paint the barn red and the roof black. Attach two of the roof pieces to one side of the roof, leaving the other side open.
Connect two of the roof pieces with a piano hinge. Attach the hinged side of the roof along the ridge line using a second piano hinge.
Tips and warnings
- Use push blocks, push sticks or whatever other safety equipment is necessary to maintain a safe distance between your hands and the cutting edge of the router or table saw.
- Routers and table saws can cause serious, permanent injury, amputations and death if proper safety procedures are not strictly followed.
- Do not use power tools while tired, or while under the influence of alcohol, prescription medication, or over the counter medications, including herbal and homeopathic remedies.
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