Everyone needs a special place to call his own. For a kid, sometimes the most magical place is his own backyard. Here he can hunt for fireflies and other creepy crawlies, fight imaginary monsters with sticks that amazingly turn into swords and, best of all, perfect the art of being a kid. The ideal central location for all this fun can be a tree house with a ladder and slide. Building the structure may seem daunting, but with a few supplies and some helpful building advice, all this and more is possible.
Things You'll Need
- Plumb bob
- Post-hole digger
- Post level
- Power drill/bits/driver bits
- Socket wrench
- Drill guide
- Rubber mallet
- Nail gun
- 2-by-6s for frame and joists
- 4-by-4 posts
- Instant concrete
- 2 x 4s for ladder
- Decking planks
- ½-inch spacers
- Pre-cut exterior sheathing
Location and Building the Structure
Choose the perfect location by finding a tree or two at least 6 inches in diameter. This tree is one of the legs that supports the tree house.
Nail a frame together using nails and four 2-by-4s making a square.
Place frame in the tree(s) (either a solid fork in one large tree or between two to three smaller trees), making sure the frame is in position.
Clamp the frame board and temporary brace together against the tree(s). Drop the plumb bob (weighted line) down to the ground from a corner to determine where to dig the first post hole.
Drive a stake into the place for the first post with a rubber mallet. Mark the place with chalk.
Using a post hole digger, dig the hole for the first post. Repeat the last three steps for the consecutive holes at each corner.
For each hole, pour 3 inches of gravel to allow for drainage and drop a 4-by-4 post into each hole. Use a post level to make sure each post is in position then clamp them to the frame temporarily.
Follow the directions on the instant concrete bag and mix the concrete. Pour concrete into each of the holes, stopping about 3 inches from the top, then pour water into the hole. Wait a day for the concrete to harden before continuing.
Permanently attach the posts to the frame by drilling a hole and hammering a carriage bolt through the hole. Add a washer and a nut and tighten with a socket wrench. Repeat this step for all posts.
Prepare to make the decking by installing two joists to the platform for support. Clamp a small ledger made of scrap lumber inside the frame to make it easier to attach the joists with screws.
Begin laying the decking while making sure the first plank is flush with the edges of the frame. Attach each plank with deck screws.
Place 1/2-inch spacers between each plank on top of the joists. The spacers allow water and debris to fall through but do not interfere with walking on the planks.
Make four wall frames by attaching two end posts (with screws), two 2-by-4s on the top and bottom, and two studs in the middle, measuring the end posts and studs for the wall height you desire.
Installing one side at a time, attach the wall frame to the deck and adjacent wall frame using screws. Attach the pre-cut sheathing material to the wall frames with a nail gun, leaving space for the width of the ladder and slide. Attach the sheathing permanently with screws.
Building the Ladder
Clamp two 2-by-4s together and then, using a drill, bore holes through them large enough for the dowels you have chosen for the rungs in the ladder, measuring the spacing between each rung for a child's foot fall. Keep the drill perpendicular to the surface using a drill guide which you can find at home improvement centers.
Compress the ends of the dowels with channel locks. This makes them easier to insert into the holes you drilled. Your ladder is now complete.
When the tree house is complete, attach the ladder to the pre-measured space in one of the walls with screws.
Attaching the Slide
Tree house slides come in a variety of shapes and are available at home improvement centers or you can order one on-line.
After you have purchased the slide you want, attach it to the pre-measured opening you prepared for it using the hardware included.
Make sure the slide is secure by taking it for an adult test run. Then get the kids to experience the magic of childhood once again.
Tips & Warnings
- Be sure all bolts and screws are securely tightened and cement is completely dried and cured before allowing children to play on the structure.
- Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images
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