tree house (the one picture is a slight variation to the one in
the plans) can be built in just one weekend with a little advance
work. It was designed to require as little cutting as possible
by using four full sheets of plywood, just as they come from the
lumber yard, and one sheet of plywood that has to be cut up into
six pieces to form the front and rear walls. (For other tree house
ideas, please go to: www.treehouse-books.com.)
This treehouse needs only two trees 10 to 14 feet apart (see
plan. The third leg of the treehouse is a 6x6 post that
is sunk in place before you begin building. The length of the
post depends on how high you want the treehouse to be, but you
should allow at least 30" to be buried in the ground. Order
all the lumber from your local lumber yard and have them deliver
it to your building site. Most likely you will have to carry all
the lumber to the site, which will require strong arms and gloves.
(1) 6x6 pressure treated post
(1) 80 lb sacrete- post base
(3) 2x8 beams 12'-14' long- support beams
(8) 2x4s 8' long- platform frames
(2) sheets 3/4" 4'x8' plywood- floor
(3) sheets 3/4" 4'x8' plywood- roof and walls
(6) 2x4s 8' long- wall framing
(1) 4x4 14' long- railing posts
(2) 2x6 8' long- railing
(6) 1/2" x4" lag screws and washers
(1) 10 ft. 3/4" Dacron rope- tie downs
(1) lb. 2 1/2" galvanized deck screws
(3) lbs. 6d 2" galvanized common screws
SETTING THE POST
Use 6x6 pressure treated or any 7" diameter dead tree that
you can find in the woods. Make sure the tree is not rotten by
removing the bark and inspecting the wood. Position the post so
that it is the same distance from the other two trees and an equal
Use a post hole digger or a small spade to make a 6" diameter
hole in the ground. If the ground is really hard, you may need
an iron pick to loosen the soil and rocks.
Bring some friends along to help, because this may be hard work,
especially if the ground is hard.
Once the hole is dig, put a large rock in the bottom of the hole
for the post to sit on.
Tilt the post into the hole and bright it upright. Use 2x4s from
your lumber pile as braces to temporarily hold the post in place.
Set the post in concrete so you won't have to worry when the
next hurricane comes (see
detailed illustration). This is easily done by pouring
dry Sacrete (about 4" at a time) into the hole and mixing
it with a little water while its in the hole. Use a thin stick
to mix the concrete and water by jabbing up and down (called "jitterbugging")
in the hole. Don't use to much water as the stiffer the mix, the
stronger the concrete will be. Continue filling the hole, 4"
at a time, until you reach the top. Make a rounded surface at
the top so no rain water will collect there. Let the concrete
cure for 24 hours.
IMPORTANT: While backfilling the hole, keep checking all the
time to make sure the post is plumb (vertical) on all sides.
Hold one end of a 2x8 beam up against one of the trees and mark
in the center of the beam where the lag screw should go. Allow
5" to 6" of the end of the beam to extend beyond the
tree. Drill a 1/2" diameter hole through the beam. Hold the
beam against the tree and mark through the hole into the center
of the tree. Remove the beam and drill a 3/8" diameter pilot
hole 2" into the tree.
Using a socket wrench, screw a 4" long 1/2" diameter
lag bolt (and washer through the beam and into the tree.
Next swing the other end of the beam up. Make sure it is level
and hold it in place with 2x4 props while you repeat step one.
Repeat the same steps with the other two beams making sure that
they are all level.
The platform (see
plan) can be built safely on the ground and hoisted up
onto the support beams with the help of a few more hands. You
will need seven 2x4s eight feet long and two full size 4x8 sheets
of 3/4" thick plywood. (Note: use exterior grade plywood
if you expect the treehouse to last more than a few years).
Begin by cutting 3" off five of the 2x4s and place them
side by side, 24" on center, on the ground. These will be
your floor joists. Nail an 8ft, 2x4 to the ends of the joists
as shown here.
Check for square by measuring the two cross diagonals- they should
be the same.
Hoist or push the platform frame up onto the support beams. Position
it so there is about an 18" clearance between the rear post
and the gram this way there will be room to climb up and access
To keep the 2x4 in place and allow for some movement in the trees,
bore two 3/4" diameter holes in the 2x4's where they lie
on the support beams (see
detail) and tie the frame using 5/8"nylon rope.
Push two pieces of plywood up onto the platform and nail them
down onto the 2x4 frame using 6d (penny) galvanized 2" nails.
Make the roof by pulling two 4'x8' full size sheets of plywood
up onto the platform. Lay them down across from one another so
that the ends of plywood overhang the sides of the platform by
one inch (see
Nail three 10d (3") nails at an angle into the plywood and
into the 2x4 frame below. Do the same on the other side, however,
to do this you will have to raise the second roof panel with a
piece of scrap lumber as a prop in order to get the roof panel
to touch the floor of the platform while you put in three nails.
The nails will bend and act as a hinge to keep the roof panels
from sliding down off the platform while you nail them into the
edge of the platform.
To keep the panels from slipping at the top, screw temporary
braces across the two panels at the edges (Check to make sure
that the screws go into the very center of the plywood edge).
Use these temporary braces to support a scaffolding board which
you will need to stand on while you attach the two roof pieces
at the top.
To attach the top (see
details), use and electric frill with a Phillips head
screw bit to screw 2 1/2" galvanized screws, 5" apart,
across the top on both sides. Be careful that the points of both
screws don't stick out on the other side where they could hurt
FRONT AND READ WALLS
Bevel cut two pieces of 2x4 so that they fit between the two
roof panels at the bottom. Position the 2x4s so that they are
2 1/2" recessed back from the front edges of the roof. Cut
four pieces of 2x4 for the sides of the doorway approximately
5 feet long and nail them vertically, an equal distant from the
center, and 21" apart. Cut two 2ft. pieces of 2x4 for the
top and bevel the ends so that they fit between the two roofs
and sit on top of the doorway posts. Nail them all together. Cut
four more 2x4's, 24" long, to fit horizontally between the
doorway and the roof panels, 24" up from the base.
Cut the fifth piece of 3/4" plywood down the middle into
two 24" x 96" pieces. Mark and cut the four bottom pieces
as shown on the cutting
plan. Nail the panels in place, using 2" nails.
The top triangle should measure 24"x24"x24", but
to play it safe, hold the remaining scrap plywood panels in place
and mark with a pencil, and cut out the exact triangular shape.
Screw the bottom of the triangle to the 2x4 at the top of the
doorway and screw through the roof into the top sides of the triangle.
Make the railing waist high (you waist, not Mom or Dad's). Use
4x4 posts at the corners. Using and electric jigsaw cut 3 1/2"
x3 1/2" pocket holes in the plywood for the bottom of the
4x4 posts to slip into. Screw them into place from two sides.
Cut rails from 2x6 lumber and screw them to the tops of the posts
by cutting the ends at 45 degrees where they meet at the corners.
If you little brother or sister is going to use the treehouse,
it is a good idea to lace so rope from post to post to prevent
them from falling off.
With the leftover plywood, you can cut steps that you can screw
to the rear 6x6 post. Make sure that the steps are about 10"
apart and sand off the edges so that they are smooth to the touch.
Photo by David Stiles.
Excerpted with the permission of David and Jeanie Stiles from
How to Build Treehouses, Huts and Forts by David and Jeanie Stiles.
Published by Lyons Press. Copyright © 2001 by David and Jeanie
Stiles. Find out more about this book at www.stilesdesigns.com.
Check out more fun projects from David and Jeanie Stiles on our
Do-it-Yourself Household Solutions page.