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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Treehouse Diaries, Vol. 1

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When we moved into our new house last year, I knew I wanted to build the kids a treehouse. I never had a treehouse myself, but always thought it would be awesome if I did.  So I began thinking about where the best place would be for such an edifice. We have lots of trees, so we had lots of options. Daniel offered his input as well.

As we were contemplating the location, I also began to do some research about actually building a treehouse. For the record, I am a complete construction novice. I can nail and screw things together, and can usually manage to mess that up. But that’s about it. I have virtually no experience building anything, so I knew that I’d have to educate myself if I were going to be successful in this endeavor. I borrowed one book, “How to Build Treehouses, Huts and Forts,” from my friend Ray Van Neste and his boys, and bought another book, “Tree Houses You Can Actually Build.” Both books were helpful. I also did some research online.

We finally decided on a suitable location. We have a large, deep ravine running along behind our house, and we found a couple of oak trees near its edge that seemed to be a perfect place for the treehouse. I decided to use a two-tree design I found, which would require setting two posts as well.

On Saturday, Daniel and I made a trip to Lowe’s to get some lumber for the frame. We bought two 2x8x12 pieces, two 2x8x8 pieces, and two 4x4x12 posts. On Sunday afternoon, the construction project began.

My goal for the day was simply to get the 2x8x12 connecting the two trees into place.  I had decided that I wanted the treehouse to be tall enough that I could walk underneath it without banging my head. Since I’m 6’2, that would mean a height for the platform of about six and a half feet. I quickly discovered one problem in my work with the 2x8x12 — the dang board was heavy, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to hold it in place at both ends while screwing it to the tree.

Fortunately for me, my observant wife noticed a small branch protruding from one of the two trees. The fact that it was located at the exact height I wanted was one of the Lord’s blessings to me that day. I was able to rest one end of the board on the branch, and set the other end of the board on a ladder next to the tree. That branch made my life a lot easier:

After getting one end of the board secured to the tree, I made sure it was level before securing it to the other tree.  Daniel played on the edge of the ravine while I worked, at least most of the time. He was able to help me a little by handing me tools from time to time, and I let him hammer on the lag screw a bit as I was getting it started into the board before hoisting it to the tree.

Katie and Gus will most likely be omnipresent throughout the process. Katie (on the left, below) spent time playing with Daniel in the ravine. Gus, however, plopped down and kept me company the whole time. Gus is 10 years old now and starting to show signs of his age. I expect his presence during this whole process will be one of his lasting legacies that he’ll leave us.

The job ended with getting the board tightly secured to both trees. The finished product for this stage looked like this:

I hope to do more work on the frame later sometime this weekend, and I’ll try to post regular updates as I complete various phases of the process. Maybe it will inspire someone else. I’m sure I’ll make many mistakes along the way, and I’m sure those of you who know how to build things will get a few chuckles at my expense. That’s OK. When you try to explain the definition of a gerund or a misplaced modifier, we’ll see who’s laughing then.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Categories : Family, Treehouse

Comments

  1. misawa says:

    I doubt you’ll hear much laughter from me on this – I know where my skills are, and it ain’t with building stuff. This is awesome – can’t wait to see the final product!

  2. Brett says:

    Looks like you have a good start. Also looks like your boy has better taste in gear for the project (as I watch the Cards online; currently bottom of the 9th with Cubbies; game tied).

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