These handmade tree house blocks open new opportunities for block play, allowing children to create natural-looking constructions and multi-levelled tree houses for fairies and forest creatures to settle in.
My son loves building, so our collection of building toys just keeps growing. And sometimes we even happen to invent some. As far as I know, this tree house block set is my unique idea, inspired by two separate notions I had about children’s toys.
First, it occurred to me that wooden building blocks don’t have to be geometric. Most of them are, and there is definitely a lot you can do with a set of cubes, prisms and arches! But there are some wooden blocks that are curved like a rainbow, and there are some that have very abstract forms that could represent grass or mountains. Since we already had a selection of architectural blocks, I wanted to make some nature-inspired blocks to our collection. Something we could use for building habitats for forest animals and constructing whimsical huts for fairies.
The second discovery that contributed to the invention of this set happened when we built a doll house, using our set of standard wooden blocks and six old wooden shelves. Wide flat shelves acted as floors and let us build interesting multi-leveled structures. In the same way, wide flat blocks with organic edges can represent tree tops. With them, we can build fanciful constructions that look like magical forests growing in our playroom.
And that’s how this toy came to life.
Tree House Block Set Features
The set we made includes 12 tree trunks in two heights and 8 tree tops. Not a ton of blocks, but you can build really tall and whimsical constructions with that many. Or you can build several small tree houses! And you can always cut more blocks if your forest population grows.
On the picture: wooden fairies from the Fairy Peg Dolls tutorial
Tree trunks stack together to form longer constructions
Inspired by the gleam of golden autumn trees, the curvy blocks are made of red oak and black walnut. Burrows and tree cavities act as windows and doors.
The scale of the blocks allows us to include fairy peg dolls, animals and even cars in our games!
Materials & Tools
- 2 boards: 3/8″ or 1/2″ thick by 6″ wide oak for tree tops & 1″ thick by 6″ wide walnut for tree trunks
- scroll saw
- sand paper or a hand sander
- (optional) 100% tung oil
1 — Cut the patterns out of card stock. Each pattern piece makes four trunks – two tall and two short. The patterns for the tree tops can be modified to suit your piece of wood because they don’t necessarily have to be any particular shape or size. It is good to have a variety of sizes, as shown in our patterns. The patterns for the tree trunks are specifically made to matching curves and widths, so that they can be stacked into compound trucks. The shorter trunks are exactly half the height of the taller ones. This particular design also allows you to save wood and time while cutting them.
2 — Draw the tree trunk patterns on the walnut board. Use a tri-square to create straight lines perpendicular to the edges of the board.
3 — Cut out the tree trunks. We use a combination of band saw (with fence) and scroll saw. One trunk also needs a 1″ hole drilled through it (or cut out with a scroll saw, if you prefer).
4 — Mark the tree tops and cut them out.
5 — Rout or sand the edges on all the pieces, but leave the tops and bottoms of the tree trunks flat so that they stand sturdily. Aside from making them more pleasant to touch, routing or sanding gives the parts a more natural curve.
6 — After this, you can brush tung oil over the blocks. Pure tung oil is food-safe and widely used for sealing cutting boards, but there are blends that come with toxic hardeners – so check to be sure! It seals the wood while making the colours more vibrant and fade-resistant, but you don’t have to use it if you prefer the feel of unfinished wood. Follow the instructions that come with the tung oil for applying it. I usually apply it with a silicone brush, then wipe the excess of oil off with a microfiber cloth after it has soaked in for a few minutes. This particular type of cloth is absorbent but has minimum lint.
More Wooden Toy Tutorials?
Build a nature-inspired fairy tree house, using branches, rocks and moss.
Make a balloon-powered wooden boat, both a fun toy and an engineering project.
Thank you for reading!