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They built their own tree house.

They built their own tree house

Digging, pounding, climbing, and goodgooey cement made the labor as much fun as the result--this dream-come-true "tree house' anchored firmly in the ground.

Much of the work involved in building itwas accomplished by five energetic six- to eight-year-olds. As they worked, they learned--everything from how to shop for the right lumber to the proper use of hand tools.

Adults closely supervised construction ofthe West Los Angeles back-yard structure, so it meets the standards of concerned but busy parents: not only sturdy and safe but also straightforward to assemble. This one took only five weekends of work at a fairly relaxed pace. Its location near a tree (which was marginally incorporated into the structure) gives it the feel of a tree house--as well as summer shade.

Building a project of this size requiressome carpentry skills on the part of the supervising adult, but a simple building plan and a basic carpentry reference book should make it easily achievable. No special tools are necessary; shovels, hammers, stakes and string, a level, a ladder, some paintbrushes, and an adult-operated circular saw. Check with your building department about needed permits.

Materials cost about $600. Metal strapsembedded in poured concrete footings anchor the four 14-foot-long 4-by-4 posts that frame the basic structure. All other framing--for walls, floors, deck, and roof--uses 2-by-4s; for a clean finished look, 1-by-6s cap all exposed railings. CDX plywood sheets form floors (3/4 inch thick) and walls (5/8 inch thick), giving shear strength as well as shelter. Corrugated white fiberglass tops the structure.

All lumber is standard-or-better-gradefir. Instead of using standard 3 1/2-inch (16d) nails, the young builders found it easier to pound 3-inch (10d) ones for the framing--and 2- and 2 1/2-inch nails for the sheathing.

Once the playhouse was complete, thebuilders stained the exterior dark brown and the interior light beige.

Photo: At the lumberyard, youngsters learn how to select their2-by-4s, gain enthusiasm from smell of sap and sound of saws

Photo: In the back yard, each child works a shovel to digholes--15 inches square and 18 inches deep--for footings

Photo: From the ground floor, he usesdetermination--and 3-inch nails--to join 2-by-4s for second-floor beams to each 4-by-4 post

Photo: Climbing higher, second-story girl nails blocking between joists for cantilevered deck over front door. Dad steadies temporary brace that helps keep boards from bouncing and nails from bending

Photo: To give rooms views, Dad framesin windows. Diagonal deck supports will be replaced with 2-foot-long knee braces

Photo: On the veranda, builders andappreciative guests enjoy pride of handcrafted completion amid branches of tree growing through roof overhang

Photo: L-shaped second-floor deck overhangsbasic 6- by 8-foot module by 3 feet on two sides. Roof panels of corrugated fiberglass extend 1 foot around all sides
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1987
Words:462
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