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Treehouse ambitions still lingering since childhood? Not sure where or how to put that dream into action?

Look no further! I promise by the end of this instructable you will be fully learn-ed on one of the central unknowns in the world of treehouse building, how to properly attach a treehouse to a tree without barraging a box of your Dad's 12 penny nails into the trunk.

Contents:

Tools

Hardware

Bolt Locations

Drill Forstner Hole - Bushing

Drill Auger Hole - Theads

Attach TABs

Build Structure on TAB

Links Alternative Methods

Tree Health

Step 1: Tree Health - Links

It would be impossible to cover even a portion of the tree health category sufficiently so I've provided a number of helpful links below to get your research . If you plan to invest quite a bit of money and time into your treehouse project I recommend contacting a local arborist as they will be most up to date and knowledgeable on local species, blights, harmful fungus, pests, and characteristics of the specific species for a specific region.

Tree Health links:

http://www.knowyourtrees.com/

https://www.arborday.org/trees/health/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_health

http://forestry.about.com/od/arboriculture/tp/Tree...

Live in CA? Have an Oak? Take a look at this first!

http://www.suddenoakdeath.org/diagnosis-and-manage...

Tree Diseases to be aware of.

http://www.savatree.com/tree-disease-treatment.htm...

http://forestry.about.com/od/diseases/tp/An-Index-...

<p>You my friend are a LEGEND! :) Thank you!</p>
Very helpful, thanks!
<p>If you spend a little time looking into these treehouse guys like Pete Nelson and Michael Garnier these people have dedicated their lives to trees and to people being IN nature. They have HUGE treehouses that have been around for 25 or more years and the trees are still growing strong. If you think a tree has feelings, ok, you have a point within that framework of that reality (in which case you should be posting on Psychiatry.org). Point is, there's nothing better for the world of compromise in which we live than the research of people who imagine more sustainable compromise. We are humans. It's in our nature to dominate. Dominate Sustainably. That's my thought.</p>
<p>Animal Planet's TV show, &quot;Treehouse Masters&quot;, is doing a special episode where Pete Nelson will give two EXISTING treehouses a little renovation! Free!</p><p>For more information, rules as well as the application and releases needed to have a treehouse considered for this special, &quot;Treehouse Masters: Ambushed&quot;, please visit our website here: TreehouseMastersCasting.com</p><p>Feel free to share this post!</p>
<p>Did you make your own TAB using thread rod and a welded bushing? I am interested in making my own as I don't want to spend $250-$1,000 on purchased TABs. I was warned not to use thread rod but can't understand why if the steel and diameter meet load conditions.</p>
<p>making your own TABs is not a difficult task as long as you have a healthy metal lathe that can turn and drill 3&quot; stock for the roller and alsthread the round stock for the bolt. Problem lies in purchasing the steel. Looked them up on line and some weigh 20#s - that's going to be in the neighborhood of $20-30 each. Shop time is going to be $100 each to turn, drill and thread each TAB. Not much of a workaround unless you have your own lathe.</p><p>My thought on using prethreaded rod; most are zinc plated and I don't know if that's good or bad for the tree but it's NOT good for the roller as it will (depending on the weight of the structure) want to cut threads into the roller and/or peen the threads over on the rod and also the effective diameter of the bolt will be reduced by the thread depth. </p><p>Me, I have 10 acres of trees, a BIG metal lathe along a plethora of metal and woodworking tools, the ability to make my own TABs but no desire to construct a tree house. </p>
<p>By drilling such a large hole in the &quot;hopefully&quot; alive tree, would the tree not begin to die due to stress, the movement of the tree by the wind, and exposure to parasites that could penetrate the xylem and the phloem........would the tree not begin to die and become a weak point for the treehouse? Would the tree not be ripped out of the ground by the excessive weight of the bulk of the treehouse? Would it not be better used as anchor point that is not pierced into the tree, itself?</p>
<p>You're right on all counts. The tree will always move in the wind and loosen the nails and bolts in the tree house. I think this is a bad design. It should be on legs, free standing, allowing the tree to move a few inches inside the structure.</p>
<p>Not really. The tree will regenerate around the holes. After a few years, you won't be able to pull the bolts out anymore. Trees don't die that easily.</p><p>You need to do some damage comparable to the tree's diameter to damage the tree to the point that it can't survive the wound.</p><p>As for parasites, just paint the trunk with lime up to where the treehouse starts. No more parasites - not even the naturally occuring ants. (The lime doesn't damage the tree at all, and as it washes into the ground provides useful nutrients for the tree).</p>
If it's free standing, it's not a real treehouse. <br>
<p>I don't know if they do any kind of sealant around the bolt, like the kind I've seen painted on limbs that have been cut off due to storm damage, but that's pretty much the worst part of building a treehouse like this. By <em>drilling</em> holes, rather than driving nails into the tree, you eliminate splintering, so effectively what happens is that the area around the bolt dies and goes from living tree into... wood. Just plain ol' wood. Surrounded by living tree. And the wood is plugged up by the bolt. If you use nails, you're <em>splitting</em> the tree which provides a lot more room for parasites to enter the tree.<br><br>As for movement, I'm not a structural engineer, but just taking a gander at these photos it *looks* like what's actually going to happen is the treehouse structure will practically eliminate the movement in the lower part of the tree, due to the rigidity of the treehouse. The upper part of the tree will sway in the wind, but that's what trees <em>do</em>, I don't see anything to be worried about there. The only way that the tree would be ripped out of the ground is if the treehouse load is pulling from side to side - if you look at this one they're supporting the treehouse with multiple trees, which will definitely increase the stability. Also, another point to remember is that living trees are *heavy* - I think it's something like 150lbs per 16 inches with a 12 inch diameter. Depending on the size of your treehouse and your tree, you may not even be adding another <em>half</em> of the weight of the top of the tree.</p><p>All that being said, I'm still going to use pressure-treated lumber and just build a fort when I do (unless I had a bunch of woods on my property and I wasn't too worried about losing a couple of trees, worst case scenario),</p>
Sorry that's not a tree fort.
<p>TREES DON'T HEAL THEY SEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!</p>
<p>I had no idea that there was so much real knowledge about building a treehouse, this is great to know, now if I could just find trees that didn't have spiders...</p>
<p>Spiders are your friends - they eat all the nasty bugs that you don't like. And unless you live in Australia, there are <em>maybe</em> two spiders with medically significant bites - the Black Widow (which prefers to be closer to the ground anyway) and the Brown Recluse (which, despite much lore, hasn't been proven to have a medically significant bite [any more than say, a bee sting, which can certainly kill people who are allergic to that sort of thing]). See /r/spiders on reddit for more information :)</p>
<p>&quot;Brown Recluse (which, despite much lore, hasn't been proven to have a medically significant bite&quot; Seriously?&quot; How uninformed are you? Try googling Brown Recluse bites and educate yourself.</p>
<p>That's what I mean by lore. </p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_recluse_spider#Bite" rel="nofollow">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_recluse_spider...</a></p><p>&quot;Around 49% of brown recluse bites do not result in necrosis or systemic effects&quot; </p><p>Recluses are very disinterested in biting you. <em>Most</em> of the photos that you see on the internet blaming spiders are <em>probably</em> MRSA. </p><p><a href="http://www.abqjournal.com/431736/documented-fatal-recluse-bites-don39t-exist.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.abqjournal.com/431736/documented-fatal-...</a></p><p>Google Images is not science.</p>
<p>None of your links are viable. You still need to educate yourself on Brown Recluse bites. Stop propagating false information.</p>
<p>I just have an reasonable fear - I can't even look at photos of them, but thank you for your input.</p>
I see that this is re-featured from 2 yrs ago, but I didn't see it first time around. This is the most informative instructable I've seen. And as noted, while the tree is wounded with drilling, it heals itself around that wound and both tree and structure are strengthened in the healing. That combined with safety and dynamic rigging allow for a zillion designs. Brilliant instructable! Thank you.
<p>as a rule I do not like tree houses at least most I have seen. This however seems like a better system of building in a tree than any I have seen before. The through bolt idea and almost floating attachment of the structure would be the least stressful to the tree. it is close to what arborist recommend in strengthening trees to prevent splitting. It takes into consideration that the tree is a living system and needs to be able to grow </p><p>While nails do hold in wood well, pounding on the living bark of a tree that you do not intend to kill is not a good idea. I have personally used that method pounding on the bark with a hammer to kill tree stumps I did not intend to dig up with out having to use any weed killer like wise attaching s rigid structures that go around the trunk including cables will eventually cause everything above it to be strangled to death as the tree grows.</p>
<p>Using a nail type of fastener would be better as, yes, it splits the wood, but the fibers of the tree are pushed aside so the flow of fluids is less interrupted compared to a huge hole cutting through all the layers and the hole is much tighter to the fastener.</p><p>Also, it looks like the wood planks are sitting on top of the fasteners so as to allow the planks to slide back and forth allowing the trees to move and sway.</p>
<p>Giving internet links about tree health, doesn't make your tree-houses less harmful to the trees. </p>
<p>while piercing the bark *does* cause stress to the tree, drilling is definitely the least-invasive operation. Drilling an appropriate sized hole for your bolt will prevent cracking aroudn the bolt, and effectively what happens is it turns into wood, instead of living tree, with tree around it.<br><br>That being said, I still plan on making a tree fort (i.e. standing on timbers instead of being connected to the tree), rather than a tree house, as I'm not confident enough that I won't totally kill my trees :)</p>
<p>It's amazing love!!</p>
<p>for your wood strength might i suggest referring to the USDA wood handbook.</p><p><a href="http://www.nhla.com/assets/1603/wood_handbook.pdf" rel="nofollow">http://www.nhla.com/assets/1603/wood_handbook.pdf</a></p><p>great post by the way</p>
<p>ch 5 is a good place to start.</p>
<p>Интересная технология строительства дома на дереве! Намного надёжней, чем крепление досками к дереву. И выполнено весьма профессионально!</p>
<p>hello,</p><p>thank you for this building, very professional.</p><p>next time try not to hurt the trees using other methods inking</p><p>thank you</p>
Hey bud, my name is Tristan.<br>Where are you located and how can I reach your company personally?<br><br>
<p>Located in the SF Bay Area. Please get in touch via dustinfeider@o2treehouse.com</p>
<p>Awesome instructable and great resource!</p>
<p>And thank you for the tree health links. I always worry about the tree.</p>
<p>I too thought you were going to talk about creating TABs, as they are INSANELY expensive. I have a treehouse project going in my back yard between two 25&quot; diameter trees (Maple and Beech). Two levels, a deck and a &quot;house&quot;. I ended up going with 3/4&quot; lag bolts. I'd have loved to use TABs, but at $80++ each, it made no sense, for something that wasn't for holding a full time family residence.</p><p>I did a TON of research and am not worried about not using TABs, but they are mighty cool things.</p><p>HandiGirl, if it's an older healthy tree, it's got stay power. The mostly downward forces of the structure wouldn't topple a mostly vertical trunk, much less cause it to fall sideways. Trees get hurt all the time and heal around the injuries. The less hold you put in a tree the better, much like tapping for maple.</p><p>IMNSHO, using an anchor point that is not the tree makes it less than a TREEhouse. Building a house on stilts with a tree running up through it is not a treehouse (again, IMNSHO).</p>
And here I thought you were going to teach us how to make the TABS as they're looking a lot like the screw portion of a stationary tall jack stand used in the automotive industry and surely available inexpensively from China along with a bearing &amp; sme big washer. You do give more details than Mr. Nelson's TV show, but I like it too!
<p>Beautiful structure, awesome instructable and great resource! I hope to be able to put this to good use before too long.Thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>fantastic resource, thanks for putting this together.</p>
<p>Very informative, a job well done. It would have been more beneficial to have<br>pictures focused on the processes and procedures and less on the people<br>working.</p>
<p>Amazing job!, deservedly featured. Its like you guys came from some eco civilisation like the elves in LOTR or the blue people in Avatar. Naa seriously, since you are doing such a pro job you might as well make it you permanent rent-free abode</p>
<p>I made a treehouse with my kids years ago. Maybe it's time for an addition... :)</p>
This is hands down the bet tree house guide iv ever seen.<br>Lots of safety and an amazing attention to detail an useful tips!
<p>What are the engineering considerations of the tree you are drilling into or selected as the support? Any harm to the tree if the bolt or hole cuts in too much? </p>
<p>Great question! I just added a number of links, choose your wood species to discover its properties.</p>
Wow! Nice job :-)
I love this! Big trees are a prerequisite to my future home. Definitely will keep this in mind!

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