How to Make a Mini Tiki Hut

straw image by Ruth Adair from

Things You'll Need

  • Straw
  • Ruler
  • Craft or utility knife
  • Hacksaw
  • 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch diameter twigs
  • Raffia
  • White glue
  • Paint brush
  • Paneling nails or other small tacks
  • Tack hammer
  • 6-inch by 12-inch piece of brown cardboard
  • Hot melt glue gun, clear glue sticks
  • 2 pieces each, 6-inch by 3-inch and 4-inch by 3-inch cardboard
  • OR
  • 2 pieces each, 6-inch by 6-inch and 4-inch by 6-inch cardboard

A mini tiki hut completes a beach or lakeside scene on a model railroad layout. They can also be used as table decorations for a beach-themed wedding or winter luau, or to create a Polynesian diorama for a history, introductory cultural anthropology or geography lesson. Tiki huts can have an open or closed design. Open-design tiki huts allow observers to see the interior. Mini tiki huts can be thatched with any pinnate--feather-shaped--leaf, dried grasses, straw or even thin willow twigs.

Cut straw into 6-inch and 12-inch lengths with a utility or craft knife. Keep them in separate piles.

Use thin twigs.
abstract crowded new life image by Radu Razvan from

Cut four 1/2-inch diameter twigs 8 inches long with a hacksaw. Cut four each, 4- and 6-inch pieces from 1/4-inch diameter twigs. The twigs will frame the hut.

Form a rectangle with two 6-inch and two 4-inch twigs. Use paneling nails or smaller tacks to secure the rectangle sides. Wrap each corner with raffia 1/2-inch in each direction. Repeat to form a second rectangle.

Attach the 8-inch twigs to one of the rectangles, 1/2-inch from the bottom, using small tacks. Wrap each corner joint with raffia and apply a coating of white glue thinned with water. Allow to dry. Repeat for the second rectangle, 4 1/2 inches from the bottom of the mini tiki hut.

Measure the brown cardboard. Find the center points along the 12-inch sides. Mark a line from the right side to the left, along the center points.

Score the cardboard along the line created in the previous step. Fold the cardboard along the scored line to make a roof support for the tiki hut. Use a hot melt glue gun and clear glue sticks to attach the roof support to the twig frame of the hut.

Apply with a paint brush the white glue thinned with water to the roof support. Lay bundles of cut straw, thatch-style, on the roof support while the glue is tacky. Allow it to dry overnight.

Cut two 6-inch by 3-inch pieces of cardboard and two 4-inch by 3-inch pieces to make sides for the tiki hut base, if you want an open design. Use 6-inch by 6-inch and 4-inch by 6-inch pieces for closed walls.

Attach the sides to the twig frame using a hot melt glue gun and clear glue sticks. Allow hot melt glue to cool before proceeding.

Apply thinned white glue to each side. Cut additional straw to thatch the sides of the tiki hut base once the glue is tacky.


  • Thatched roofs are made from many materials.