I made it out of plywood, 2x4's, MDF, screws and paint for just a few hundred dollars.
After a few sketchup drawings, room measurements and some internet research on castles. I came up with this original design.
The build took a few weeks because I was designing and constructing during those precious few weekend hours during the boys nap time.
Step 1: Walk Through
The top level has a nice large carpeted play area that leads you across a bridge giving access to the tower with fireman's pole. (Picture 2)
In the tower foam padding lines the hole and side walls with a custom made pillow fitting around the pole at the bottom. (Picture 3)
After sliding down the pole you find two built in shelves in the tower for storage and a side entrance to the main castle hall. (Picture 4,5)
Inside the main hall we have a nice dragon tapestry covering the back wall and a medieval looking mirror. (Picture 6) Just inside the front door is a push button light switch that controls the inside string lights and outside torch lamps. (Picture 7)
The front has two plastic torches that actually flicker for a great effect. A wooden shield is attached above the main door which was saved from my childhood. The tower has two long thin windows resembling the archers windows used in real castles.
Step 2: Tools and Materials
4x8 3/4" wood sheets
4x8 1/8" sheeting
9' metal conduit pole
4 Shelving brackets
4 Corner brackets
Childrens foam padding - found online
Carpet with padding
Craftsman table saw with roller stand
Drill with bits
Craftsman belt sander
Craftsman table saw
Flame torch lights from Ikea
Medieval mirror from Ikea
Dragon blanket from Ikea
Christmas lights with switch
Dark and light grey paint
Step 3: The Build
Begin by framing out the main room with 2x4's. Make the top and bottom following my drawings make note of the one top back piece that goes an extra 2 feet across the bridge area. Cut 4 2x4's to height and screw together the top and bottom frames. I'm sure you have been using proper eye and ear protection!
- Next cover the frame with plywood as seen in the photos and screw together using long wood screws. In order to use my plywood sheets efficiently the front panel is cut from three pieces. Glue, brackets and the top crown molding hold these pieces together. (Picture 1)
- Using a ruler, compass and jigsaw. Mark and cut out the window and door openings. Use a rounding bit on your router to smooth out both sides of the openings. It is difficult to get into the corners with the router so some hand sanding or dremel work may be required. I screwed in 2 temporary 2x4's across the bottom frame of the doors while I was building to help when moving it around.(Picture 1)
- When cutting the opening to the upper deck leave some space over the top floor level to account for the carpeting and padding. (Picture 1)
- Cut and router a handle to the upper level. Sizing it to your liking, but make sure you round it and sand very smooth.
- The floor for the top level is 3/4" plywood cut to fit the main area plus over the bridge. This can be screwed to the top frame every 12 inches or so.
- The top trim is made from mdf and using a jigsaw I cut out each 3 inch by 3 inch section. The ends are cut on 45 degree angles for a tight corner fit. Using a counter sink drill bit screw these to each of your panels and cover screw holes with wood filler.
- The top handrail is 1x4 cut to lenght with 45 degree angles. It was glued and nailed once inside the house. (Picture 2)
- The bottom trim is just standard pre-primed baseboard trim from the local home store. Using my brad nail gun I installed these pieces once inside.
- Building the step and storage unit is simply a 2x4 box with plywood top and side. I left the back and one side open since it would not be seen. The front was cut out with my jigsaw and rounded smooth with my router. I ended up cutting an opening in the main room for secret access to under the step.
- I was able to build the tower in one piece because of it's width. (Picture 3) Framed out with 2x4's as seen in my drawings I covered one side in 3/4" plywood and the other in 1/8 sheeting. I used MDF on the front angled pieces because I already had some, but there is no special reason. Setting my Craftsman table saw blade on an angle, I tried to cut the wood to make a smoother corner. But as you can see from all the filler, I didn't do a very good job. The firemans pole is secured to a 2x4 across the bottom and top using brackets. (Picture 4) The hole was cut as wide as the tower (2 feet) using a very large compass and jigsaw. (See picture of tools) The shelves where made from plywood cut to fit and I used 4 gray shelf angled brackets. (Picture 5)
- If you have the room or can take it outside like I did. I recommend putting it all together once before disassembling and installing. This gives you the chance to make sure everything fits and then sand, sand and sand some more. (Picture 6,7) It's also a good time to give it a coat of grey primer.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Getting all the pieces inside and screwing everything together is definitely not a one man job. Once you have it all reassembled, including a few long screws into the bridge and tower. Add a few metal angle brackets on the top inside corners as you see fit. Glue and nail down the top hand railing trim along with bottom moldings. Shim as necessary.
After a few coats of dark gray, paint the trim along the top and bottom to match the child safety foam corner pieces. My brother did a very creative and quite frankly fantastic job sponge painting the stone blocks. He just trimming the corners off of a normal sponge. My mother and I free hand painted the cloud, sun and bird background.
I stapled a strand of white mini Christmas lights inside along the top. I also installed two torch lights from Ikea to the outside, running their wires in and up to a small shelf. I rewired and attached a Christmas tree foot switch on the inside for easy access. (Picture 3)
The wooden shield screwed in the front came from a renaissance fair I went to as a kid.
The safety foam padding was purchased online and stuck on with the double sided tape that came with it. I only had to cut a few pieces to fit and it has been a great extra feature.
If you are thinking about building something like this, and I think you should. Here are a few tips I can share from my experience. Use all nice plywood, the few dollars saved on the cheap stuff will cost you later in sanding and wood filler. Build it strong enough for kids and adults. Make all openings kid safe, either too small or too big to get their heads stuck. You will need a thick pillow or padding at the bottom of the fireman's pole. Screws are not good for holding carpet down. Lastly double or triple pad the flooring, your knees will thank you.
I hope you enjoyed my project and take these plans and tips to build something fun.