Build a Combination Swing Set, Playhouse and Climbing Wall
Instead of a standard jungle gym for the kids, build a combination A-frame fort, swing set and climbing wall.
Throw away those boring old plans for a box treehouse. This treehouse has rounded walls and hangs from a tree. A transparent roof lets in natural sunlight, and with enough room to lie down and get comfortable inside, parents might find themselves relaxing in this treehouse.
Lay one sheet of plywood on a flat work surface. To give the walls an oval shape, clamp Pex tubing along the edges as a guideline and trace the curved shape at one corner.
Remove the tubing. Cut the traced corner using a jigsaw. Save scrap piece to use as a template for the other corners; this way they’ll all perfectly match. Trace the template and cut the other three corners of the plywood.
Use a piece of scrap tubing to make a homemade compass. Drill a hole about 13” from the end of the tube then slide a pencil into the hole. Attach the other end of the tubing to the plywood with a screw. Spin the tube to draw a circle about 26” in diameter. This is the cut line for the round door.
Use a drill to make a starter hole on the inside of the door’s cut line. Fit the jigsaw blade into the drilled hole and slowly cut along the drawn line for a smooth, precise circle.
Use a paint can, roll of tape or anything round as a template to trace the port holes.
Use a drill to make a starter hole on the inside of the porthole cut line. Fit the jigsaw blade into the drilled hole and slowly cut along the drawn line for a smooth, precise circle.
Lay the second sheet of plywood flat on your work surface, then lay the front wall (already cut) on top. To make both walls identical in size, trace around the front wall and then use a jigsaw to cut the second sheet of plywood.
To make a long, thin peephole on the back wall, simply trace a 2x3 onto the plywood. Use a drill to make a starter hole on the inside of the traced line. Fit the jigsaw blade into the drilled hole and slowly cut along the drawn line for a smooth, precise rectangle.
Prime and paint the outside walls. Use two coats of exterior-grade paint.
Pre-cut and fasten three 51" 2x3s to two 48" 2x3s. Attach with two to three galvanized screws at each connection.
Lay 48” cedar decking panels along the frame. Use a carpenter’s pencil as a guide to space the decking panels. The spacing in between the deck panels helps create airflow and will prevent the wood from warping. Fasten the boards at each end with galvanized nails.
Measure and line up the midpoints of both the walls and the decking. Fasten both walls to the decking using a nail gun. Use ring-shank nails and leave roughly six inches in between each nail.
Attach five 48" 2x6s to each side of the decking to create backrest walls that will curve up the sides of the treehouse. Fasten each 2x6 through the front and back walls with two nails on each end.
Since the treehouse will hang from a tree, it is very important to reinforce the points where the carrying beam will be attached to the walls. Screw and glue plywood scraps to the insides of the walls at the center.
Use 48" 2x3s for the roof beams. Attach the first 2x3 four inches above the last 2x6. This is the point where the roofing will come to a drip edge. Space each of the roof beams 10 inches apart.
This is the most important part of the project. Heavily screw together a 2x6 and a 2x4 for the carrying beam.
Where you added the extra wall support, pre-drill holes to accommodate three 1/8” diameter hex-head 6” screws. It is important to pre-drill to avoid splitting the carrying beam and the plywood. Screw the carrying beam in place.
Cut the transparent polycarbonate roofing to hang two inches over the walls’ edges. Use hex-head screws with neoprene washers to attach the roofing to the 2x3 beams. Overlap each sheet of roofing to properly keep rain out, and align each seam to lie on or next to a beam.
Use a 1” diameter drill bit to make a hole in the center of the carrying beam.
Use the curved pieces of scrap plywood to make the trim around the door and windows. Draw a second circle outside (2 inches for the door trim, and a little thinner for the portholes). Cut out the inner circle with a jigsaw leaving a donut-like trim piece. Repeat for every door and window.
Sand the trim, door and windows then apply two coats of paint. When dry attach with nails.
Feed 5,000-lb. industrial-strength rope through the carrying beam. Slide a washer around the rope from the inside and tie the rope several times. When the treehouse is hoisted up, the knot will tighten and the washer will keep it from slipping through.
Get plenty of help to hoist the treehouse onto two sawhorses. Wrap and tie the rope super tight around a thick and sturdy tree branch.
To make the step, use scrap plywood that's the same width as the trim around the door. Trace the door trim scrap to match the curve and cut it using a jigsaw. Paint it to match the trim, then when it is dry, use nails to secure it below the door.
To prevent the treehouse from swaying too much, attach one-inch eye screws on each of the four corners
Thread heavy-duty rope through the eye screws then tie it to industrial-sized, circus-tent stakes. Hammer the stakes securely into the ground.
Fill the treehouse with pillows, blankets, books and games. Then invite the kids, or just hide away in there yourself!