Making a Fort for the Kids
limited Skill, tools and money.
First go at a project of this scale and first go at writing it up.
Step 1: Low Maintenance Garden Is No Fun for Kids
Moved into new house before the summer with a low "maintenance garden". It turns out that ment that NO maintenance had be done, secondly there was no where for my 2 kids to burn off some energy that wasn't concrete.
The Garden Is L shaped so there is a long stretch for Bikes, Cars, Space hoppers and running up and down. The plan is still at some point to turf it for the Kids to play on.
But what to do with the bit round the corner?
Plan A: Hot tub
Plan B: Patio
Plan C: Car park
So we settled on a play area (i don't know how the kids won that either).
Add in a bit of research:
climbing frame with slide... £300
for a slide and some swings... £500
I said I could do better my self and the wife challenged me on it so..
Modular Play area for aprox £300 with slide, climbing bits, bridges, ladders etc
Step 2: Plans
Build Boxes no higher than the wall so no blocking any light for neighbor and "The Big one" for the slide Join together with Bridges and ropes etc.
decking boards lots
Fence posts 4/5 per tower
concrete blocks for footings
3 inch decking screws three boxes
Heavy duty corner brackets
4mm wood bit
torx bit (free with screws)
Step 3: Making a Platform
OK, decking comes in 2400mm lengths so can be cut into 1200mm, 600mm or 800mm lengths with no off cuts (+/- about an inch).
Following the measure twice cut once idea, I set a jig (Brick) to to length I needed measured twice cut once, measured again, then was able to cut a nice big pile of the same size.
2 1200mm decking boards sandwiching the fence posts make a big H. 2 of these Hs make up the sides of a box/Tower. approximate footing marked out with concrete blocks (these will be buried when turf turns up)
At this stage the towers are not that stable but pick up rigidity as boards are added as "cladding"
the 1200mm boards fit onto the top from left to right, that way they rest on the inside board of each H.
A straight edge of any kind makes drilling down pilot holes in to the cross beam much easier, then screwing down the Boards is much quicker.
We now have a platform on 4 legs half way up some fence posts standing on concrete blocks!
I promised the wife it would get stronger as it grew.
Step 4: The Cladding
As mentioned adding the horizontal boards really stiffens up the structure. there must be a solid ring of boards around the base to stop the legs splaying out but for where is is against the Wall these can be on the inside
I left one side with some boards missing so i could still access the inside.
Onto the next tower rinse and repeat
a little work to redirect the guttering through the platform but not too bad
and a 5th support added added to one side
As you can see in the picture i have added fence posts between the towers. The Extra post halves the width of the bridge and frames up a doorway in the wall.
Step 5: Bridges and Barriers
I added a low bridge between the corner tower and the High tower using two fence posts and 800mm boards using corner brackets to lock it in place.
A nice addition was by not cutting down the posts a shelf or table now extends into the high tower a nice area to shelter in and big enough for an adult.
the big Bridge was going to be a rope bridge but this looked too dangerous for my youngest so for now is a solid platform.
the Fence posts that extend above the platforms help to wall in the kids and alowed me to add safety Barriers
Time for some testing
The scientific approach:
if it takes 2 adults it should take 2 kids after much climbing and jumping about i decided there was too much flex in the platforms so i added a central cross support and this seems much better.
Step 6: The Tower
The last tower was sized to match the slide (my wife got an amazing deal).
same design as the other towers, 5th post to match up with the bridge and spaced slats to form a ladder. for the cladding there is a 4mm gap, created by putting a broken 4mm bit between the boards. For the Ladder I did the same with a brick, it seemed the right size.
Added more secure railings to the top, for now they are horizontal but i hope to add vertical boards to turn it into castle battlements.
Step 7: Attaching the Slide
The slide comes with a metal frame and steps, don't need that!
The slide has 4 holes for the frame to fit through. I used these to attach it.
Step 8: Finishing Touches:
Added some Grass,
To keep everything in place the base of the towers are heavily weighted. half ton of rock and rubble in one a couple of Water barrels in another.