The Treehouse Project Part 3 - The Clubhouse and Swings
The treehouse clubhouse is the center and heart of the treehouse!
As a kid I always loved building clubhouses high up in the trees. I think it was because of my love for Swiss Family Robinson and their amazing treehouse. For my kids, I wanted to build a clubhouse that was large enough to sleep in but also had cool things to explore and use. I sketched my idea out in 3D to make sure it would work and then I started building the walls. The the size of the club house is about 6ftx8ft and it is 5feet tall. You can check out my inspiration post here and part 2 here.
After I finish building the treehouse I will post a video to my YouTube Channel. You can subscribe to it by clicking the below subscribe button. I post a lot of DIY videos and showcase the projects that I work on around my house.
Framing a Clubhouse is a Life Lesson
Framing has been one of my favorite things because it is when you start to see the treehouse take shape. I used three primary tools for framing the clubhouse, my Dewalt impact drill, Dewalt cordless hand saw, and my Bosch miter saw. I have to tell you these tools made the job easy. Check out my tool section to learn more about the tools I use. I also use 3in outdoor screws to hold everything together.
I was also lucky enough to have some amazing assistants. Ethan helps me when I need to change tools or need extra screws. He also keeps the job site clean. I believe one of the most important things you can teach your children is that they can do anything they set their mind to. I also think it is very important to make your kids feel a part of the projects and things you do as an adult. This is important as it gives you an opportunity to bond and create memories that will last a lifetime. It also gives your kids the confidence they need to pursue their dreams. I was blessed as a kid because my parents took an active role in my life. They showed me how to use hand tools, power tools, and many other things. When possible I let Ethan and his sister Grace help build the treehouse. I want their memories of building the treehouse to be with their Dad and to remember that even when they are small they can do big things.
Change of Plans, How Your Treehouse Vision Needs to be Flexable
Once I had framed in the clubhouse walls I became a bit concerned about one of the major tree branches that was overhanging the roof line. There was a branch that was too close to the roof line and could not be cut, you can see I have circled it in red in the picture below. I had to think of a creative way to accommodate this obstruction. It is hard to tell in this picture but in my original design, this loft area was on the other side of the clubhouse. I moved it to overhang inside the platform for aesthetic reasons. This then made the scale of the entire treehouse look better, but it also caused issues. After several hours of thinking about the branch and the design of the clubhouse it hit me! I could make a balcony. This would solve my issue with the branch and give the treehouse an additional feature.
I had a hard time figuring out my roof line. I wanted the loft area to be usable but I also didn't want the pitch and height of the roof to be out of proportion with the rest of the clubhouse. I had to rebuilt the cross beam twice to get it just right. Most of my concerns were with the balcony door. I wanted everything to be the correct scale. I had to keep telling myself I am building this for kids and not myself.
The picture on the right shows how I secured my rafters to the walls of the treehouse, the metal brackets are hurricane straps. I must take a moment to note that I didn't install them as they are recommended but they did the job I needed them to do.
The next step is for me to put in the loft flooring and side railing for the balcony. The loft has a window that I need to order and install. The window is 16x16. I will have the details and pictures of that in my next post but for now you can see in the picture below that everything is starting to take shape.
Building and Installing a Custom Swing Set
So far the building and installing of the custom swing set has been the hardest thing I have had to do. The massive size and height was very challenging. I enlisted a good friend of mine, John, to assist me with the building and installation because this was not a one man project. I purchased an A Frame Bracket off Amazon to connect the posts. I absolutely love this thing because I didn't have to engineer one out of wood.
I had to install the swing set beam twice. The first time I had the beam coming out 16ft from the platform. It was way too long and messed with the scale of the treehouse. I had to shorten it to 14ft. I wasn't too excited to install it a second time because the first time I had the 16ft the beam fall off the 2in ledge and the temporary supports scissored and collapsed on my hand, and it almost broke my fingers. A warning to anyone building a swing set of this scale or any scale, safety first and always think of what could go wrong and have a plan.
I just love this picture. Grace is so happy! I love her simile. She sat and swung in that swing for about half an hour.
Stay tuned, my next post will show the installation of the shaker roof and siding of the clubhouse.