Archive for Treehouse

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Treehouse Diaries, Vol. 2

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Since I was able to step outside today without immediately passing out from the heat, I figured I’d spend the day working on the treehouse. I already had part of the frame in place (see details in Vol. 1), and my goal for the day was to complete the frame. To do that, I was going to have to dig two post holes and attach the final three pieces of lumber. Unfortunately, some unforeseen difficulties kept me from meeting that goal.

The day started off well enough, as I got the second piece of the frame (a 2x8x8) attached easily enough to the 2x8x12 that I had already secured to the tree.

That proved to be the easiest part of the day. Next up was the first post hole. I borrowed an auger and a post hole digger from my friend Robert, and figured that getting to my desired depth of a little more than two feet would be no problem (unless I encountered some roots). I didn’t have any trouble with roots, but discovered that since we haven’t had much rain lately, the ground was incredibly hard and the auger had a hard time digging through it. I had to run the auger for a little bit to loosen up the dirt, then use the digger to remove the dirt from the whole. It was laborious work. Finally, I was close to reaching my depth when another problem surfaced.

Here is one end of the auger’s starter cord:

and here is the other end:

Yes, the cord broke on me as I was trying to start the auger. Just call me Superman. I know I’ve been working out more lately, but I didn’t realize how drastic the results would be. In reality, I didn’t pull the cord that hard, but it broke anyway. So that was the end of my digging for the day. Fortunately, I was able to finish the job with the post hole digger and returned it to Robert, while I will take the auger to another friend tomorrow to have him fix it.

I then planned to attach the 2x8x8 to the post, but discovered another problem: the hole location was a little bit off. That meant that if the post were level vertically, the 2x8x8 wouldn’t be square with the 2x8x12. You can see from this picture how it’s off a bit. It’s level, but it’s not square.

So now I have to make a decision. I haven’t set the post in concrete yet. If I want the frame to be both level AND square, I’m going to have to do some more work on that post hole when I can get the auger fixed and borrow the post hole digger again. Or, I can say, “To heck with being square. It’s a treehouse and it’s level, so that’s good enough.” I haven’t decided yet which route to take. If you have construction expertise and would like to offer your advice on the matter, please feel free to do so.

Regardless, I here’s how it look when I finished work for the day:

Up next will be to dig the second post hole once I get the auger fixed (and after I water the area a little bit for a couple of days to make the ground softer. Lesson learned.).

Categories : Treehouse
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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
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