How to Build a Backyard Playhouse
Instead of a standard square playhouse, build a work of art that both kids and parents will love.
Paint the 4’x8’ sheet of plywood with two coats of yellow on the top and two coats of green on the bottom. Measure up 62” lengthwise from one end and 24” in from the sides and make a mark at that point. This will be the top center of your arch. Measure 24” down from the mark and place a temporary screw in the center. Attach a string to a pencil to create a compass then draw a curve connecting the 62” mark all the way out to the sides of the plywood.
To create the lines for the serving window, shorten the string down to about 18” and make a smaller half circle within the larger curve. Remove the temporary screw and finish the bottom of the semicircular window with a straight line. You can keep the window at 18”, or freehand the bottom to make a larger opening.
Use a jigsaw to cut the top curve. To cut the serving window opening, pre-drill a starter hole using a drill bit that’s at least as wide as your jigsaw blade. Then insert the jigsaw and make the drill hole. Save the scraps — these will be used to make the sign and trim.
Underneath the serving window, draw and cut out a rectangular hole for a display window. Again, pre-drill a starter hole, insert the jigsaw blade and make an interior cut. Save the scrap piece. Now the front piece is done being cut, so set it aside.
On the largest scrap of plywood, free-hand draw the curve of one of the folding side pieces. Make sure it fits within half of the plywood scrap. Cut it out using a jigsaw. Flip it over onto the other half of the plywood and trace it so you’ll have two identical pieces. Cut the second piece with the jigsaw.
Use the rectangular scrap of plywood from display opening to trace the appropriate shape onto the Plexiglas. Line up a T-square and use a utility knife to score the Plexiglas in a straight line. Run the knife over the same lines several times for a deep cut. Then move the Plexiglas to the edge of the table and just snap it along those cuts.
Use the leftover scrap wood to make trim for around the Plexiglas display window. Nail the trim onto the front of the stand around the display window. Make sure to let the trim overhang into the window so it will support the Plexiglas.
Use door hinges to attach the folding side pieces. Insert thin scraps of wood in between the hinges and plywood and screw them in place. The scrap pieces will add support and prevent the screws from poking out the other side.
Place the Plexiglas into the display opening. Sandwich it against the front window trim with some thin pieces of trim nailed in on the inside.
The shelf on the inside will serve as a workspace for holding the lemonade, cups and cash box, but also will anchor the folding side pieces in place while it’s in use. Measure and cut the second sheet of plywood to match the interior width: 4 feet in the front, plus an outward 45-degree angle in the back so the side pieces are folded outward. The cut piece should look like a trapezoid. Paint it green or to match the inside of your lemonade stand.
Attach a thin ledger board to the inside of the front of the lemonade stand where you want the shelf to rest, and make sure it’s level. Then screw in an L bracket to each outer corner of the shelf and mark where they meet the folding side pieces. Also check to make sure the shelf will be level front to back. Then screw in electrical conduit loops on your marks on each side piece, so that the L-brackets slide into them when the shelf is set in place. This will stabilize the whole structure by locking in the folding side pieces and it will keep the shelf from slipping forward or back.
You’ll need two lemon-shaped pieces of plywood to make a double-sided sign. Draw a lemon shape on the scrap of plywood that you cut from the center of the serving window. Cut it out with the jigsaw. Then trace the shape on another part of the same scrap of plywood and cut out a second identical lemon.
Use a hammer to flatten out one end of 6’ utility pipe. Drill two holes through it, position it in the center of one of the plywood lemons and attach with screws. Lay the other lemon on top to sandwich the pole. Make sure you have one green side and one yellow side facing out. Secure the two sign pieces together around the pole with more screws.
On one side, halfway up the front of the lemonade stand, attach a 1” key ring facing up with a bracket and screws. At the bottom of the stand directly below the key ring, screw in a pinch clamp. Slide the sign pole in place through both rings.
Use a permanent marker or exterior paint to decorate your lemonade stand. Draw borders, lemonade graphics and a price. Since the sign rotates, you can put two different prices on each side to adjust for inflation.
This lemonade stand will be sure to catch attention around the neighborhood. When it's time to close up shop, just fold it up — the profile is less than three inches so it packs away easily.
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