Introduction: Tree Steps – a Tree Friendly Climbing Device for the Adventurous
I have kids.
Kids like to climb. On everything.
Unfortunately for them, I like to mow the grass without crashing the tractor into tree branches so I’ve pretty much pruned off anything that’s 7’ or lower in the “mow zone”. This makes climbing trees difficult when you’re only 4’ tall.
Since we have not really left our house for about 40 days now, we have been experiencing the “outside of the fence” areas of the property that previously my boys didn’t have much access to. There is a mighty fine climbing tree my older son discovered, but he couldn’t get up to the lowest branch. He’s creative, and found that stacking about 12 paver bricks on top of a bucket he was able to reach the lowest branch and pull himself up. Before that method ended up in a trip to the ER, I stepped in to offer a safer alternative.
Today you too will be introduced to:
THE TREE STEP! NOW A SAFER ALTERNATIVE TO PAVERS STACKED PRECARIOUSLY ON A BUCKET!
DISCLAIMER: Climbing trees is inherently risky. You can get poked in the eye, stung by bees, or even fall out of a tree doing this. TREE STEPS are not for the risk adverse, but they’re likely safer than some of my 8yr old son’s climbing ideas. Or my brother in-law’s for that matter. Or our catapult… anyhow, use common sense.
YOU WILL NEED:
Ratchet or cam strap that you trust. I have found the 6’ long 1’’ wide ones from just about every store work fine. You want short because any tree bigger than about 24’’ around you would probably need handholds or a climbing belt anyhow. And shorter is easier to manage.
Step 1: Because I Believe in Equality
We have a lot of scrap leftovers from projects so I grabbed a 2x4 off cut for this.
I cut it into about 5’’ lengths because the scrap I had divided evenly by 5. You could probably make them slightly shorter and also slightly longer and it wouldn’t change a thing. So pick a number close to 5’’ or just use whatever your scrap evenly divides into for the most pieces.
I wouldn’t make them less than 4x the width of your ratchet strap though, you will see why later.
Step 2: Highly Calibrated Bamboo
Because this is for the “Scrap Speed Contest” I’ve used as much scrap as I could reasonably use to get some extra credit.
Pick something slightly larger than the width of your strap and scribe a line across the 2x4 chunks.
The width of the groove either doesn’t have to be exact, or this bamboo scrap was exactly the width I needed. Further testing will have to be done but my money's on not requiring exactness.
Step 3: The Careful Part Before the Reckless Part
Chisel out the middle section. I suggest you cut stops at either side so you don’t accidentally chisel off the entire slab of 2x4. You can do this with the chisel but I used a bandsaw since it's way quicker.
You’re going to want to chisel the whole thing about ½’’ deep. Round the edges a bit to make it easier on the cam strap. Clean them up a bit with some sand paper.
A dado blade would probably make short work of this but I didn’t feel like finding mine and setting it up. Plus running a 5’’ block across a dado sounds like a recipe for missing fingers.
I suppose you could cut the strap grooves first then cut the blocks into 5’’ sections... but I digress…
Step 4: You Have Chosen Wisely… Hopefully
Wrap your cam buckle or ratchet strap around the tree you have chosen. Make sure it’s level around the tree then tighten the living snot out of it. Seriously tighten it, this is what keeps you from suddenly meeting the ground.
Start by setting them a little higher than knee high, then armpit, than high as you can reach. After that you either need to be content being 12' up in a tree or set them as you climb.
Is setting Tree Steps up as you climb safe you ask?
Magic 8 ball says “maybe?". But if you have a climbing belt to wrap around the tree and let you use both hands it’s not bad. Although in all honesty I don’t go too high in trees with any type of gear. Saying I dislike heights is like saying 14th Century peasants “disliked” the plague.
I will say these are probably way safer than free climbing a tree. Especially one with no branches. The amount of weight they are able to hold is quite impressive. I can stand on one and jump up and down on it (that is about 180lbs static weight plus whatever multiplier jumping has) So they're no slouch.
Step 5: Last But Not Least
Vote for me in the Scrap Speed Contest.
Now go outside, have fun, and remember the Tree Steps slogan:
Don’t climb higher than you’re willing to fall
Participated in the
Scraps Speed Challenge