Joan Dickhaut * seejoansew

Building set instructions

This project requires basic woodworking skills and tools.  A chop saw is very helpful and highly recommended but a hand saw will work.

When you go shopping, find the dowels first, then take them with you to the plumbing department to get the pipe fittings.  You will need CPVC fittings.  There are different types of plastic fittings so shop carefully and make sure the ones you buy fit snugly on the dowels.

Note:  Buy the dowels from a hardware storeThe dowels at the craft store may cost less but sometimes the sizes are off and they may not work with the pipe fittings. 

If you only want to assemble one display (example- the ballet barre) then you only need to buy enough supplies for that one set.  Check the Assembly Diagrams to see exactly which pieces you will need and shop accordingly. 

Shopping List

 For the basic building set, you will need:
5/8" Dowels = 5 - 4' dowels or 6 - 3'dowels
1/2" CPVC  plumbing fittings =


For the swing set and teeter totter:

5' - #16 jack chain
6 -1" rings  (from the craft store)
2 - 2" rings  (from the craft store)
6 - 5/8" eye screws
1 - 3' x 4" x 1/4" aspen or balsa wood board
2 - handles or drawer pulls w/screws

Staining and Painting

If you want to stain, varnish or paint the dowels, do that before you cut them.  It's easier to sand and stain 5 or 6 long dowels than 24 short ones!  However, stain the swing seat and teeter totter after they are cut. 

Do not paint the CPVC fittings!

Unless you intend on gluing your display together. 

 I spray painted my pipe fittings and it was a huge mistake.  If any paint gets on the inside of the fitting, they will stick to the dowels like glue.  Even if you think the paint is completely dry, they will stick. Even if you let the paint cure for months, they will stick.  I had to sand the insides of all of my fittings to remove all of the paint and it was not easy... or fun.  Just wash them well and let them dry.

Consider yourself warned.


I highly recommend using a chop saw to cut the dowels.  The plans are designed for use with a chop saw and 4 dowels can be cut at the same time. This insures that the finished sticks will be exactly the same length.


If you absolutely must cut them by hand, measure carefully and cut accurately.

Line up the dowels side by side and use the cutting guides to measure, mark and cut them into the following lengths:

  • 4 - 20"
  • 2 - 16"
  • 2 - 12"
  • 4 - 8" 
  • 3 - 6"
  • 6 - 4"
  • 2 - 3"

Note:  If you use 4' dowels, you will have an extra 24" piece.  I use that piece for my ballet barre.

After the dowels are cut, sand the ends and use a felt tip marker to write the length of each stick on both ends.  This will make assembling the displays easier.



The basic building set is done!

Now you can start building and setting up scenes. 

Have fun!

Assembly Diagrams
Diagrams explaining how to build the displays.

(This page is on my new site.)

Craft at your own risk.