Saturday, December 20, 2008

treehouse in snow

We got five inches of snow last night, so after I cleared the cars and woked n the driveway with my wife, my daughter and I checked out the treehouse (still standing!) I shoveled off some snow to take the strain off. Here ae some pictures. y daughter's in the 1st one. Boy, are we cold!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

All decked out...

Thanks to a VERY generous contribution by my in-laws Mr. and Mrs. Schubert (thanks Bo and Blythe!), I was able to get my deck built. After much hemming and hawing, I went for Trex planks (made of recycled plastic and sawdust). They may be more expensive, but they are more durable than regular wood (25-year guarantee) and don't produce toxic splinters like pressure-treated wood. I took the precaution of finishing a temporary railing all around the deck.

Installing it was an ordeal. The packaging recommended screwing it directly into place with special screws. After stripping four screws, I started pre drilling the holes with two bits (a long one for the shaft and a short one for the countersink). I then proceded to drop the chuck key into the leaves under the deck. After two trips to the hardware store (the first time the chuck key I bought was too small), I was back on the deck. The only other mishap was when I slipped on a piece of temporary deck flooring and started to fall through! Fortunately I grabbed the temporary railing and stayed aboard! Anyway, here are some pix of the deck.

Monday, December 8, 2008

First, you have to get IN the treehouse...

Just a note on the steps. So far, the steps have been the trickiest part of the treehouse building process. My first version was badly slanted and not especially secure (a fact I found up when I began hauling equipement up them). I tried re-do some of the stairs. Not that it easy to do, as the ladder weighs a ton and wrestling it into position is dicey with that weight.

After doing some quick web research, I decided the easiest approach was to build them in place. So, I tore down the old one and installed two slanted 2x8" lengths of PT wood (beveled on the feet). Once in place, it was a simple matter to cut the trends to fit and place them singly. (although I noticed when I was done that the bottom tread is inch and a 1/4" wider than the top tread, so much for parallel sides!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Now we are getting somewhere!

After conferring with my wife and kids. I tweaked my building plan to allow safe access to the treehouse. I did this by nailing up 2 x4s inside the house to form temporary railings. I also closed off the deck portion for now (no decking) and re-built the ladder not once but twice! I also added a pulley and bucket for the kids. They like it so far. Check out the pictures.

Long time no write!

Sorry, I've been bogged down at work, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. My sister came for a visit, so I handed her a hammer and had her toe-nail the wall studs. Thanks, sis!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Frame those walls!

Last Saturday, we had a couple over for the day. He and I in 3-4 hours we able to get aal of the walls framed up. See pix! I have some 10-foot 2x4's left over that I will use for the deck at $3.69 a board as opposed to $12 a board for pressure treated lumber and $18-24 a board for Trex. I have to do some retrofitting as one corner overlaps (see pic on the right).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gable or shed...

I am altering the design for the treehouse. First, I will switch from gable roof to shed roof. I am also chopping the end wall down from 8 ft to 6 ft. Why am I doing this (especially as I already built two walls? Well, the short answer is that shed walls are cheaper, faster and easier to build and I think the ceiling should be shorter to give the treehouse a more kid-like dimension (although it is high enough for me to stand in without whacking my head). Also, my wife wants to speed up the construction and the kids want to get in there before the snows fly!

We're on our way!

We added plywood decking last week. You can see the result. With the plywood added, the deck supports really tighten up!instability is really lessened. Nice kids on the deck!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Deck frame going up!

This weekend, a buddy of mine across the street volunteered to help with the building process. It was much appreciated (thanks, Jonathan!) as putting up the joists would have been a bear alone. He and I got plywood for the floor. I mis-calculated and was one sheet short. I had to take the kids back to HD. They are getting quite excited now that they can see the platform. Next is placing the plywood - tricky because I didn't check the diagonals on the deck frame, so I question how square it is. Hmmm...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

post and beam

Well, I'm moving along finally. Last weekend, I singlehandedly hung the second 2x12 support beam with nary a scratch (well a dinged up finger). Today, I picked up some old 2x6 boards (to be used later) from a buddy in town. Then, my buddy from across the street came over and we started on the understructure. You can see from the pictures how far we got!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Woo Hoo!

FINALLY, some warm, sunny weather. I took the day off and my daughter and I started the treehouse. First, we put up one of the main support beams, then we dug and poured two footings to support the other side of the main platform. Lots of digging there were tree roots in one hole and ledge rock in the other.

Monday, August 18, 2008


11 inches in three weeks! That's what weather is doing to my work days. We are getting 4 days of sun this week and my daughter is free this week, do we hope to begin. I have the wood and the bolts needed for the main support beams.

Two minor changes. I bought two - 2"x12" 16-footers (PT wood). I was going to use them nailed together as on 4x12. I decided it would be better to install them as 2x12 s one on either side of the tree trunks.

Also, I think that I'm going to change the structure of the 4x6 posts holding up the other end of the platform. I will install a 4x6 beam on top of the two 2x6 beams build a deck-like understructure for the fixed end of the main platform. I am thinking of adding a foot to the deck and a foot to the house. This will allow more room in the treehouse and on the deck.
PS Thanks to for the picture.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Build Your Kids a Treehouse

A quick correct on that treehouse book. The correct reference is: The Black & Decker Complete Guide: Build Your Kids a Treehouse (Black & Decker Complete Guide) (Paperback) by Charlie Self (Author), John Drigot (Contributor)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

New design - I like it

Well, after perusing the old design, I realized some limitations.

It would take a lot of bolts and braces for each tree.
it would be more complicated to build
it would necessitate a smaller tree house

I decided to deal with the size issue with increasing the support. I Added two beams each with 4x4 posts holding up either end of each beam. Yuck. Real treehouses aren't supported from the ground at all. Plus, that added to the complication expense and time, something I (and my wife) wasn't happy about.

My solution was to go with a simpler design that put one beam between the two trees and added two 4x4 posts to hold up the other end of the platform. see attached. I gave up the idea of sole support from the tree but I think it will be better.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Old design (see I've already changed my mind!)

My first plan was to build a platform set on two knee -braced joists running perpendicular to the tree. Attached you can see a sketch of those plans

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where to put the treehouse?

So, the next step is to find a tree(s). For most designs, you need a straight, healthy, hardwood tree with a minimum of a 60" circumference (19" diameter) for sole support of a treehouse. You should keep it away from the road, water, power lines, neighbors' sightlines, rocks to fall on and build it no more 6-8' high for small kids (like my 7 and 5 year olds). I asked permission of my neighbor nearest the eventual location, and he said "Sure!". I called up the building department in my town and they had no problem.

When you add all the qualifications up that leaves me with two oak trees (with 72" and 53" circumferences) about 10' apart. See my picture!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The beginning of the treehouse

I am going to build a treehouse for my two kids in the backyard this summer. i have already checked out numerous websites (see links), bought a book (Black and Deckers', How to Build a Treehouse) and rented one form the library (Treehouses and Playhouses by David and Jeanie Stiles). The kids are excited as am I. My wife is a little concerned about time and money. I'm throwing up a blog to keep track of the process.