Easy-to-Build Treehouse A structure you can build with your kids in a weekend

This 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.

Materials

• (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 distance apart.

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.

SUPPORT BEAMS

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.

PLATFORM

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 the treehouse.

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.

HOUSE

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 sketch).

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 somebody.

FRONT AND READ WALLS

FRAMING

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.

RAILING

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.

LADDER

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.

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