How to Make a Kids' Cloth Play Tent

Kids will love this easy-to-make tent for backyard camping and weekend fun. Fold it flat and store it easily when they're done. You can also stencil on fun designs to completely customize it.

Few Hours
Less Than $500

What You Need for This Project

  1. 1

    Soften the Drop Cloth

    Wash and dry the drop cloth to soften it. (Avoid hot settings on the washer or dryer that may cause excessive shrinkage.)

    Sand the faces, edges, and ends of each 1 in. x 2 in. x 6 ft. board to remove any sharp edges or rough spots.

  2. Steps:

  1. 2

    Drill the Frame Boards

    Find the four straightest boards to use as the vertical ends (A) for both frames. Measure 20-1/2 in. down from the top end of each board and mark the center of the 1-1/2 in.-wide faces where shown. Drill 3/8 in. holes at each mark, taking care to keep the holes 90 degrees to the wood surface.

  2. Steps:

  1. 3

    Attach the Vertical Ends

    On a flat surface, place two of the vertical ends (A) on edge so they're parallel and about 6' apart. Check that the 3/8 in. holes are at the top end. Lay the cross brace (B) with the face spanning the two parallel boards and flush with their ends. Use a carpenter's square to check that they're 90 degrees to each other.

    Drill two countersunk pilot holes about 3/8 in. from the edges of the top board. Then add glue and screw the top board to the two vertical boards.

  2. Steps:

  1. 4

    Make the Tent Frame Sides

    Measure 23 in. from the edge of the bottom board and mark the two vertical boards. Glue, drill, and screw a second horizontal board in place. Measure another 23 in. and repeat to add a third horizontal board to complete one tent frame side.

    Repeat the previous step and this one to make a second side; let the glue dry.

  2. Steps:

  1. 5

    Join the Frames Together

    To join the frames, stand them together with the holes overlapping. Place a washer on a 3/8 in. x 2 in. hex bolt, slide the bolt through the holes, and hold it in place with another washer and a wing nut.

    Repeat for the other hole.

  2. Steps:

  1. 6

    Put the Cloth on the Frame

    Spread the two sides apart to form the "A" shape. Drape the prewashed drop cloth over the frame and confirm that it will reach from one bottom board to the other. Then staple one end to the bottom board on one side, pulling it tight as you go.

    Pull the cloth tight over the top and staple it to the opposite bottom board. Lightly hammer any staples not completely driven in place.

  2. Steps:

  1. 7

    Attach a Reinforcement

    Drill and screw (but don't glue) a reinforcement (C) on top of the stapled bottom board (B) to create a clean look and keep any staples from popping loose.

    Repeat for the other side.

  2. Steps:

How to Terms

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures.

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