A Peerless Pier!
By Deb Roberts
Thinking of building a new lighthouse? Wondering where to park your boat when you do? Or maybe you just need a little spot where you can add a house or do some fishing. We’ve got the perfect solution for you! This little pier is perfect for adding space to your lighthouse wharf. It can dock a boat, hold everything from a small shed to a large house, and even works as a romantic place for your mini people to stand as they gaze into the sunset over the water.
House, shed or shack of your choice
(the load bearing supports underneath the pier will hold a house so don’t be nervous)
Light colored wood stain
Paint in brown, tan and green
Greenleaf siding strips
Sheet of 1/8” plywood cut to your preferred size
Basswood strips (1/4” wide)
Basswood square rods (1/4” wide)
Basswood square rods (1/8” wide)
Round dowel rod (1/4” wide)
Tacky glue or wood glue
Off-white crewel embroidery thread
EZ Cutter or mini saw
Dremel with ¼” round sanding drum
Begin with building your house or shed. I used Annie’s Lobster Shack to make a little equipment shed, however, the design of the pier includes load bearing supports underneath so it will hold almost any size house you want to use. Cut the sheet of plywood in proportion to the size house you’ll be using. Allow two to three inches of space on all sides so your mini people will have room to walk around it.
Stain the sheet of plywood with a light colored wood stain so it will pop the grain. Allow the stain to seep into the wood, then begin adding your paint over the stain. Start with a wash of brown paint to deepen the grain of the wood, then dry brush tan paint over the top to “weather” the wood. To add the final touch of aging, use a rag to dry rub hints of a green patina over the wood. Do both sides and let it dry on a flat surface. I recommend weighting the wood in the center to keep it from warping.
On the top side, add a second wash of tan paint to lighten the wood just a bit.
Cut your siding strips to the length of the board and glue them in place. I recommend a hot glue gun for applying the siding but tacky glue will work. If the siding warps and lifts just a little that will add to the realistic look of the pier. Don’t let it warp so much that the house will not set level on the board however. (and you don’t want your little people tripping over loose boards when they take a walk on the pier)
After the glue has dried, stain and age the siding strips just as you did the plywood base.
Cut the dowel rod into 4” lengths for the posts. The number of posts you will need depends on how big your pier will be. You’ll want to space out the posts about three to four inches apart. Stain and age the posts.
You’ll be adding the posts to only three sides of the pier. The fourth side that does not have posts will set flush with the lighthouse base. With a pencil, mark the position of your posts on the pier, then use the dremel to cut half circle grooves into the pier.
Snug the dowel posts into place in the grooves and glue. (use wood glue for this, but a touch of hot glue will help hold them in place while the wood glue dries) Position the posts so that the top edge of the pier is 2 ¼” high. This height will put the pier level with the lighthouse base.
Time to build the load bearing support! Cut the ¼” square rod into 4 lengths 2 1/8” long. Cut the 1/8” square rod into 8 lengths 2 1/8” long. Stain and age and allow to dry.
Turn the pier upside down and glue the large square posts into place, forming a square in the center of the pier. Glue firmly and allow the glue to dry well since these posts will hold the weight of your house. (if you’re making a pier to hold a larger house, you may want to add more support posts)
Cut the ¼” wide basswood strips into lengths that fit the space between the posts, stain and age them. These strips are decorative but will be glued between the posts to look like braces.
Cut, stain and age additional basswood strips to fit the full length of each side of the pier. Glue these strips to the inside of the round posts, positioning one at the top and one at the bottom.
Glue the ¼” square rods at even intervals to the front of the basswood strips.
Allow the glue to dry and turn the pier right side up.
Begin adding the rope railing by leaving a 3” length of the crewel thread at the end and wrap it three times around the first corner post. Keeping the thread taunt, continue to each post, wrapping the thread two or three times around each one. For a realistic look, vary the positioning of the thread and the number of times you wrap it around the post. Place a tiny dot of tacky glue on the thread on the backside of each post to hold it in place.
To make the rope coils sitting on the pier at each end, dip your index finger into tacky glue and pinch the end of the thread. Run the thread between your finger and thumb to coat it with glue so it will hold a shape. Coil the rope on the edge of the pier.
You probably have a few pieces of either the square or the round dowel leftover and you can use these to make a nice accent piece on the edge of the pier. Cut three pieces in varied lengths (you can cut the top edge at a slant to add character). Glue the three pieces together, flush at the bottom, and wrap them in a length of crewel thread to simulate rope. Add a charm such as an anchor or whale’s tail to the rope about one third of the way up. A tiny bird sitting on the post completes this little charmer.
Now you’re ready to place your house on the pier and add your details such as fish nets (plastic net bags that hold cherry tomatoes works great for fish nets!), barrels, sea shells, fishing poles, etc.
Set the pier next to the lighthouse base and you’re all done!
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