Everyone needs a clubhouse! You can build your own backyard shelter, retreat, or clubhouse even if you have never built anything before. The clubhouse above was built in 1959 by three kids aged 8, 9 and 11, with no money or help from grownups! I know; I was the 11-year-old who took this picture. I'm sharing here what I have learned since then.
Readers of all ages are welcome to comment with their own ideas, pictures or stories.
To help you on your way, I've written a book titled "Keep Out! Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse", which is available through bookstores or at Amazon.com . Many of the items I post here are also in the book.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How to Pound (and unbend) a Nail

Here's how to pound a nail, and what usually happens when you are just starting out.
Don't worry about bent nails, keep trying!

To unbend bent nails, try these techniques:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Clubouse Book Arriving Soon!

My newly minted book about building clubhouses, titled Keep Out! Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse will be coming out on march 27. It will contain a lot of the stuff seen on this blog, and is already available for pre-order on Amazon. Here's a picture of the cover:

Beginning this coming April, I will be going on the road to talk about the book, and just for fun, I built this model clubhouse, 9 inches tall, complete with the sawhorses (One of the nine tools!)
I even finished the inside, but left one side open to show how the walls are framed.
The quarter by the chair shows the scale!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

9 Essential Tools

You'll only need nine essential hand tools to build your clubhouse.

1.  A hammer  that you can easily swing to pound in nails. For kids, a 12-ounce to 16-ounce "finish hammer", as shown above,  is about right. If you are buying one, pick them up, and swing the different sizes for the right weight.

2. A tape measure. A 10-foot or 12-foot tape is long enough for a clubhouse. These are also small enough to easily fit in your hand or your pocket.

3. A handsaw. Get one of these short "Sharktooth" saws made by Stanley. They are very sharp, sized right for kids, will fit in a toolbox, and not too expensive.


4. A pencil. Any pencil will work.

5. A framing square.  This is the perfect tool to mark boards for cutting with your saw. Get the smaller (7 inches on a side) metal or plastic one. The marks on it will be helpful for cutting angles later!


6. A screwdriver. Get a standard and a phillips-style screwdriver, or a combination screwdriver that includes both.


 7. A level. A nine-inch long "Torpedo" type plastic level will work fine. Also, this small level will fit in any tool box.


8. A pry bar. This is your tool for fixing goofs, or for helping with alterations and room additions later on. Sometimes called a "Wonder Bar"; Stanley Tools makes the best one.


9. Sawhorses. These are necessary for sawing boards safely. You can buy a set or build the ones shown above. The lower height ( 24 inches) of these hand-built ones is better for young builders.


Extra: A Nail pouch or tool belt. Lumber yards sell these canvas ones for very little.