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Build A Western Saloon Kid's Fort With Standard Fence Boards

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Picture of Build A Western Saloon Kid's Fort With Standard Fence Boards
Howdy pardner! So you think you have what it takes to wander into the Wild West? Have you got a posse of pint-sized pistol packers? Well grab those gunslingers, get in your garage, grab your gear and giddy-up! Y'all are about to make a western saloon fort... with standard fence boards.
 
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Step 1: Sketch Out A Plan

Picture of Sketch Out A Plan
There is a bank vault full of fort plans on the Internet. My posse and I took the elements of forts we liked and combined them into our own design.

Our first inspiration was a "Frontier Fort Playhouse Built From Stockade Fencing" designed by John Lewis, and available free on the web. While small, Mr. Lewis's design is cost-conscious and looks easy to build. Unlike ours, his is made without framing or siding the walls one board at a time. Instead, he simply uses pre-fabricated and spaced stockade fencing PANELS turned sideways, and uses a lightweight roof. We take our hats off for Mr. Lewis for inspiring us with his fine concept... but I reckon it just wasn't all we we wanted.

What we wanted was a much bigger fort (ours is bigger in every dimension, twice the volume, and the ceiling high enough that an adult can stand inside). We wanted a stronger fort (ours will hold the weight of a heavy cedar shingle roof plus a dad and kids who want to sit on it to look at the stars). We wanted it to be craftsman quality (ours is framed with 2x4's like a house and is sided with individually routed and cut pine fence boards). And we wanted ours to have a Texas-sized personality (ours has saloon doors, rustic trim, a wood burned sign and lots of other "extras"). And we didn't mind too much if it took more time and materials to get there.

It's impossible to give credit to all that inspired us. Some our ideas came from just looking at Old West buildings at an amusement park.

There is a link to our plans on this page which we followed until we got to the roof structures.*   This Instructable will show you what we did.
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jakescout13 days ago

Howdy - this looks awesome! I want to do this for my twin boys birthday in August. How long do you think it will take devoting probably 2 nights a week to it for a couple hours a night, and then 1 full day or more on the weekend?

I am also lost on how to build/frame/finish the roof, can you help me out at all?

jhawkins14 (author)  jakescout12 days ago

It took us about 3 and a half months keeping a schedule that involved working a full day on most Sundays and a night or two a week. I think if you added a full day a week that would make a huge difference, cutting the time down to about 4-6 weeks.

jhawkins14 (author)  jhawkins1412 days ago

Roof: this is one of those deals where I planned to build it one way, then thought about it, and just built it another way without drawing it up. I will private message you about the roof construction and can send you photos to help with particular steps/questions.

omikeo1 month ago

straight shootin pardner, I did a treehouse this year, I guess I shouldda rounded my boards, it's a nice touch(along with those nailers and your decor), and at ground level, broken arms are much less of a concern, I had to put a nice mullion down the center and weave in the bridge from the play structure to the house, but they'll still find a way to be too dangerous, thanks for pos

SmashedWord5 months ago

great instructable mate makes me wish i had kids to build this for. will keep it in mind for when i do, thanks and very entertaining :)

You are always welcome to build this for my kids. :)

jhawkins14 (author)  SmashedWord5 months ago

Much obliged, feller.

hhughes81 month ago
Awesome directions! Love the colorful ad lib too! The pics are great & actually gives me confidence to build this. Ty
jhawkins14 (author)  hhughes81 month ago

I reckon you'll do a fine job.

damyar1 month ago

thank

RACING_COWBOYS__IDAHO.JPG
jhawkins14 (author)  damyar1 month ago

That feller in the fo-tee-graph looks like Bad Bart. He owes me money from a poker game. If you see him, give him a kick with yer boot.

damyar1 month ago

this is very nice !!!

i wanna make it so early.

thank for beautiful desin

Donc21 month ago

I really like this. My kids are all grown up as are my grandkids also. Me being born in 1950, I grew up on Saturday morning westerns as well as primetime TV western series. I've never been on a horse in my life except my Grandpa's old mule Bill when I was a kid, But I have always been a Cowboy in my mind. Still am. I wish I had had this Saloon when I was a kid. Looks Great.

mlanger11 month ago

Very nice. My grandkids would love this. I shared it with the oldest who is 14. He is quite the handyman and they have a backyard full of pallets..... lol he might improvise! Thank you for sharing!

tsfehler1 month ago

Love this! I have a bunch of little (and bigger) people who want to build a fort this summer. A neighbour is going to teach them to use his sawmill, and this really gives me a visual of "the next step" for if my husband. (but i hope he helps me with the roof part!) Great job - you're a fun dad!

That was grate I'm sure the kids love it. I would love to build this for my grand kids to play in. I want one for my self. Grate Job.

idk if you're sarcastic, but you spelled great wrong. not trying to be ,mean or anything :)

EthanJP1 year ago

Cool!

Wow that is awesome. How long did it take you?
jhawkins14 (author)  annabenson61 year ago
Hey thanks! We started in July and finished at the end of October, so about 3 and a half months. An evening here and there... and Sunday afternoons that weren't filled with other plans.

I feel like my middle son actually grew an inch taller while building it. He didn't fit through the doorway as well by the time we finished ;)
good job boss.
Daemonikk1 year ago
Great work, and thanks! I scaled up the design a bit and tweaked a few things for my particular needs, and now this is gonna be my new workshop! I'll have to add pictures once it's done.
duresti1 year ago
Awesome idea for the kids!
ledshed1 year ago
Nice... got me thinking... scale up and real bar :-)
bajablue1 year ago
Impressive!!!
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fenikkusu1 year ago
I'm confused what did the router do to the boards? This is asked due to a lack of knowledge as to what the particular bit creates in the wood...sorry I have no clue about that one thing...This is amazing and awesome though! I LOVE LOVE LOVE how you even reminded us about digsafe! You are awesome! People forget those simple things that could turn a project into a disaster!
jhawkins14 (author)  fenikkusu1 year ago
If I told you that, I'd have to kill you. Well, maybe not. Here is a picture of a round-over bit and what it does to a square edge of a board. What I did is run the fence boards through the router, each twice so that if you looked at the profile of the board, it would look like the letter "D" If that doesn't make sense, take a look at the close up pictures at the end of the instuctable. You can see the edges of each fence board are rounded smooth.
jhawkins14 (author)  jhawkins141 year ago
Sorry, I couldn't successfully post a picture in a comment. Here's what you can do: Google "roundover bit" and hit the "Images" tab. You'll see a picture of what the bit looks like. The router itself spins that bit super fast, and shaves one edge of the board so that is rounded instead of sharp.
jhawkins14 (author)  jhawkins141 year ago
Finally, if you look at the one photo taken from the inside of the fort (Step 10, top picture), you can see those edges are not rounded, they are sharp 90 degree edges just like fence boards look when you buy them.

Excellent question. Thank you for asking.
You absolutely rock! Thank you for answering my question about the roundover bit! Your kids have THE...BEST...DAD!!! Please keep posting your projects. I think I speak for everyone when I say. This was just a pleasure to take a look at! ...(even more fun to read!) lol. Two thumbs way way up!!!
Congratulations on your win. Top notch instructabling.
YPF1 year ago
Thanks for sharing such a great instructable. You've done a great job!
thehaze441 year ago
Good thinking, was wondering why the overkill but heads are more valuable than gold nuggets!
This is way too cool
vote vote vote
good luck with the contests
kmdill1 year ago

I enjoyed your Instructable so much I had to sign in and VOTE!! LOVE the finished pictures of you and the Buckeroo's!
SparkySam1 year ago
Great idea and what an awesome memory for the whole family! Even though I wasn't looking to build a cool fort today, I couldn't stop reading your story! It made me smile! Love it!
cbeatty11 year ago
Very cool. My cousins son wants a fort like this and this would make an awesome one! Good Job!
olbuzzard1 year ago
This is jhawkins14's dad. Several parents got prematurely grey during that tree house construction adventure he posted about!! They were working 30 to 40 feet up. His older brothers were the instigators of the project. We did require that they fashion a rope harness and tie themselves off to a limb while up there building. They used assistants on the ground to tie materials and tools to ropes for hauling them up. There was absolutely no adult help what so ever. I don't recall that there was a single injury, not even a smashed finger.

There are still a few boards and remnants up there, but alas the thievery continued with the subsequent generations of kids along the wooded creek. No telling how much recycling of tree forts has gone on. Wish I could find the pictures of it. It was a beauty to behold and was the talk of the neighborhood! I don't know of a single adult who ever got the courage to climb up there.

I don't know how much longer the old tree is going to survive. Each year more and more roots get exposed from the creek eroding the bank. It's leaning quite a bit now.
Stargazin is a mighty fine way of passing the evening. Jus don't drift off into a nap or you might come down to earth all of a sudden like!
I'm building a raised platform framework with a sturdy roof myself! T'aint as purty as your Saloon and way simpler, Don't have the room or the money for anything more. But I guess the kids will dream it into more things than a cloud thataway too (Ships that ply the air, seas or the ether to a cabin/roost/hide etc). I'll post some of those fancy photographic images when it's done. Might be another week though...
jhawkins14 (author)  OrientalHero1 year ago
You speak Pirate! This is going to be good...
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