Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Treehouse Project: The Beams and Platform

Patent Pending #0257648891535
In case you missed it, see previous post on why I am building a treehouse HERE. To prove that anyone can build a treehouse I have posted a picture of the only other woodworking project I have completed in my entire life. About 5 years ago I needed a stand for my printer in my office so I built one from scratch. Not to brag, but while I've gone through multiple printers (e.g. Canon, HP, Brother) this stand has outlasted all of them. I’m sure your first thought was “This is most assuredly the workmanship of a skilled Amish craftsman!” I forgive you. 

I share this all in jest of course because who attempts to build a treehouse after building a printer stand like that? I didn’t know where to start so I did quite a bit of research on the interwebs but full disclosure my primary resource in guiding me through this project has been this book (Amazon link HERE). It’s pretty simple read with lots of pics (who doesn't like pics?) but it covers a lot of things you may run into and stresses important things one might overlook. It also contains a lot of creative ideas  - which is the fun part! I highly recommend it as a basic guide. Lastly, my advice to anyone attempting to build a treehouse is “plan ahead but expect the unexpected and be flexible”.  Every tree and treehouse is different, and almost nothing goes exactly as planned so get ready to use your power drill clockwise (to assemble) and counterclockwise (to undo mistakes).

The Beams, Wood and Hardware
So the most important part of a treehouse are the beams. You cannot skimp on this part because this is what will be bearing the weight of your house (and your children!) and so it must be done right. As Jesus said, it’s better to build on rock than sand or the house will come tumbling down (i.e. your foundation matters!). I decided to go with two 2’x6’ beams on each side of the tree. The two oak trees I was securing the beams on are about 7 feet apart. If the beams were spanning much more than that I would have went with 2’x8’ beams but combining two pieces of wood is much stronger than going with one thicker piece (4’x6’) because two distinct cuts of lumber will have varying weak spots making the combined piece stronger overall. Yes, King Solomon was right when he said: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Eccl 4:12) The two pieces are secured by 4" galvanized carriage bolts secured with washer and nut on the other side (single bolt on right).  Don't skimp and not get galvanized. This is a non-negotiable. You don’t want water rusting your bolts over time and your structure is only as strong as the bolts holding them. For the screws I went with two ½” thick by 7 inch long galvanized lag screws and washers on each side for attaching the main beams to the trunks. This would ensure that even after going through the two pieces of wood there would be a good 3-4 inches embedded into the hardwood of that solid oak tree. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Gospel Treehouse (and other DIY thoughts)

So for those that did not know - we bought a bank foreclosure last winter out in “the country”. We weren't in the market for a new home but had been thinking it would be nice to have more room and an actual yard especially since we home-schooled and would utilize a home and yard more than most families. Well, last October we were at Kim’s sister’s place and we spent the night in their home out in the country. My brother-in-law Kurt is an amazing landscaper and arborist and they have a beautiful home that forces you to unwind and appreciate God’s creative beauty and so the whole family has always enjoyed visiting them. I’ve posted a pic below of their place so you don’t have to use your imagination.

Anyways, despite the peaceful setting, I woke up at 2am that night in their home and couldn’t fall back asleep so I opened up my iPad and perused through Zillow to assuage my boredom. Long story short, I happened upon a listing for a bank foreclosure that was only two miles from their home that made quite an impression on me – especially at the listed price. So at the break of dawn I whisked over there and walked around the outside (i.e. the inside was locked up) and I must say I instantly fell in love. The pictures did not do it justice. After some prayer on whether we should move forward, a hot and heavy multiple bidding process ensued but God graciously provided and we moved in during polar vortex #2 (or was it #3?). The home is far more than we could have ever dreamed of – especially considering we lived in a small townhome for 9 years prior with no yard. It’s a bit of a shocker to go from managing one small hanging plant on our back deck to managing 2+ acres and a private pond but who am I to complain….God is good!