Woodworking Plans

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by Michael Martinez •  • Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Comments Off on How to Build a Real for 1 last update 2020/06/02 Hobbit Hole on How to Build a Real Hobbit Hole

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for So you want to live like a Hobbit. People have been living in underground homes of many types for thousands of years, but apparently a lot of people want to live in “real” Hobbit holes. Which begs the question, is it a real Hobbit hole if Hobbits neither build it nor live in it? But let’s not worry about that.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for I have seen a lot of hobbit holes — on the Internet. Very few of them really remind of a hobbit hole. You can certainly dig a house into the ground, but if you want to live like Bilbo Baggins in Bag End you probably need to mandate a few requirements.

J.R.R. Tolkien's illustration of Bilbo standing near the entrance of Bag End.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for For example, you need a hill — and not just any hill, but a hill with a side that allows for a hobbit hole like Bilbo’s. Conveniently, if your backyard lacks such a hill you still have an option (and at least one intrepid hole builder has already figured that out). But before we get too far into this, let’s take a look at J.R.R. Tolkien’s description of Bag End from The Hobbit:

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats — the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill — The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it — and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

So, if there’s one thing you should get from this passage, it is that there is only one hallway in Bag End. Not two — no crossways — and no stairs. Just a single hallway. But something else people don’t seem to realize is that Bag End is more-or-less set against the (in)side of the hill. The tunnel doesn’t exactly run through the hill — not it’s center, at any rate. It runs parallel to the side of the hill facing the Water. I think a lot of Bag End receations overlook this fact.

Now, you don’t have to build your hobbit hole exactly like Bag End. You could model your hole on some other floor-plan. We have, for example, a partial description of the house at Crickhollow:

At last they came to a narrow gate in a thick hedge. Nothing could be seen of the house in the dark: it stood back from the lane in the middle of a wide circle of lawn surrounded by a belt of low trees inside the outer hedge. Frodo had chosen it, because it stood in an out-of-the-way corner of the country, and there were no other dwellings close by. You could get in and out without being noticed. It had been built a long while before by the Brandybucks, for the use of guests, or members of the family that wished to escape from the crowded life of Brandy Hall for a time. It was an old-fashioned countrified house, as much like a hobbit-hole as possible: it was long and low, with no upper storey; and it had a roof of turf, round windows, and a large round door.

As they walked up the green path from the gate no light was visible; the windows were dark and shuttered. Frodo knocked on the door, and Fatty Bolger opened it. A friendly light streamed out. They slipped in quickly and shut themselves and the light inside. They were in a wide hall with doors on either side; in front of them a passage ran back down the middle of the house.

The bathroom appears to be directly across the hall from the kitchen near the back of the house. The kitchen had a fireplace. We don’t know how many bedrooms it had but as Frodo — who was quite wealthy — had selected it for his residence (at least as a cover story) it must have had at least several bedrooms.

Hobbiton by the Water and the Hill, by the 1 last update 2020/06/02 J.R.R. Tolkien.Hobbiton by the Water and the Hill, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Notice the turf roof for the house. Apparently if hobbits didn’t have a hill in which to build a nice hole they simply constructed a hill around their house. Perhaps only the wealthier hobbits did that (the Crickhollow house had been used as a guest-house by the Brandybucks, after all). Still, if you don’t have a nice long hill in which to build your hobbit hole, then if you have a large flat surface your hole can serve as the foundation for a “home-made” hill. Just pile turf against the sides and on the roof (be sure you take the weight of the turf into consideration when constructing your walls and ceiling).

If you really want a nice big hill, use sandbags to build out the side of the hill and then cover them with turf. But make provisions for proper drainage around the house or you may find that when it rains it floods. You don’t want water to undermine your hard work. Take that from someone who has never worked on any more sophisticated than a tree house (I carried the nails to my older brother, as I recall).

Here are a few examples of “hobbit holes” that people have built and shared through the years — or that they have discovered. You may have seen some of these already. I can’t say it’s easy to build a hobbit hole, and I have no idea of what zoning laws or expenses the average backyard hobbit habitat project may encounter. You should definitely check to see if you need a permit. You may have to hire some carpenters or electricians or plumbers. If you decide to go completely green and natural, remember to leave yourself some ventillation (and fireplaces have flues, which keep the rain and cold air out when you’re not burning a fire, but which let the smoke rise when you do have a fire going).

Cave du Côteau de SonnayThis blogger visited a vinyard in France which had rooms constructed from an underground quarry. I thought of the Brockenborings in the northern Shire when I read this article.

Bavaria — This blogger [the site has vanished – sorry] visited Bavaria recently and while taking pictures of local homes noticed a couple that were built into hillsides (or slopes). The comparison to hobbit holes was inevitable, I suppose, but many a family with a half-basement built into the side of a sloping yard has probably lived in similar circumstances. The hallway of the “town hall” looks rather hobbity, in my opinion.

Writer in the Hold — Dan Price has been writing about his life in a hole in the ground. Except for the fact that it’s not very big, it almost looks comfortable. Mr. Price has inspired a few fringe magazine and blog articles through the years among the green community (or maybe they are the naturists — I’m not sure and hope I don’t offend anyone with my ignorance). Dan Price probably lives more like a hobbit than anyone else, but his is not a lifestyle I would want to emulate — he foregoes too many necessities. Give me my microwave oven and widescreen TV, baby!

Simon Dale’s Welsh “Hobbit” House — Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably seen one of dozens of news stories about this rustic house in the woods that Simon Dale (nice surname) built for his family. The house looks cozy, no argument there, but the stairs cross it off my list of “real” hobbit-like homes.

Hole-in-a-Concrete-Pipe — This design for a hobbit hole solves some of the practical challenges that hobbit hole builders face but I’m pretty sure that Tolkien did not imagine his hobbits having access to pre-fabricated concrete structures. The feeling of legitimacy is just not there for me. Still, if you have access to these materials at cost, it’s something to consider.

Pre-fab Hobbit Holes — So I don’t know exactly how this company is marketing or licensing the “hobbit holes” they promote on this site. The structures have gotten some press and if their customers are happy then here’s hoping they can stay in business for a long the 1 last update 2020/06/02 time to come. Maybe this is sort of how the Dwarves of Erebor might mass-produce hobbit homes for the middle class of the Shire (only that would be a long way to haul houses, so perhaps we can imagine a hobbit colony near Dale).Pre-fab Hobbit Holes — So I don’t know exactly how this company is marketing or licensing the “hobbit holes” they promote on this site. The structures have gotten some press and if their customers are happy then here’s hoping they can stay in business for a long time to come. Maybe this is sort of how the Dwarves of Erebor might mass-produce hobbit homes for the middle class of the Shire (only that would be a long way to haul houses, so perhaps we can imagine a hobbit colony near Dale).

Build-a-Hill Hobbit Home — This blogger won’t let the lack of suitable hill-lands stop her. She wants to build her hills to suit her hobbit holes. Can’t complain about that. But who is Sunni, the dog? I’m not sure what to make of that….

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Solar-powered Bag End — Thinking both green, natural, and modern (okay, that calls for something other than “both”) this innovative family is hard at work building a hobbit hole that will have power for as long as the sun keeps shining. Solar-powered homes probably would not have worked in the Shire, which was pretty far north and close to the rainy seas. Still, with the right technology you could probably develop a solar-powered hobbit hole that works “like magic”. Just hope that the Elves don’t for 1 last update 2020/06/02 get upset with you for stealing their secrets. Galadriel was pretty good at harnessing the light of sun, moon, and stars.Solar-powered Bag End — Thinking both green, natural, and modern (okay, that calls for something other than “both”) this innovative family is hard at work building a hobbit hole that will have power for as long as the sun keeps shining. Solar-powered homes probably would not have worked in the Shire, which was pretty far north and close to the rainy seas. Still, with the right technology you could probably develop a solar-powered hobbit hole that works “like magic”. Just hope that the Elves don’t get upset with you for stealing their secrets. Galadriel was pretty good at harnessing the light of sun, moon, and stars.

Backyard Hobbit Hole — This one may be one of my favorites. This family turned their backyard into a Hobbit hill (and hole). Sure, they had a big yard but still — I mean, WOW! That’s determination. And you know the neighbors were probably going like, “Hey, can we send our kids over there?” Warning: The site starts playing “Lord of the Rings” music followed by “Big Girls Don’t Cry” right away. It’s kind of relaxing but it was a bit of a shock. Still, who wouldn’t want Fergie hanging out in their hobbit hole?

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