I know I don’t really talk about it in this blog, but in my prior life to being a stay at home dad, I was/am a carpenter. Among my my more interesting jobs, early in my learning curve, was a stint with Pete Nelson at TreeHouse Workshop, a company that builds high-end treehouses all over the country. Think five figure houses in trees for dot com millionaires. After helping build a few of these beautiful things, I always thought it would be fun to build one of my own. Like a fat guy in a pastry shop, how could I resist their siren call?
Unfortunately the house we bought doesn’t really have any treehouse worthy trees. Fortunately though, my parents cleared out some cedars next to their deck and uncovered a perfect tree for a treehouse that had been buried in the green. Trees should want a treehouse to be built in them, and this one is screaming for it.
So after some clearing, I spent a couple days hoisting two long 4×8’s into its many trunks and securing them with the biggest lag bolts I could find (3/4″ x 12″). I spaced them off the tree with a countersunk plumbing pipe nipple, to allow for tree growth, and sandwiched the beam with washers. To allow for lateral movement, I cut 6″ slots in the beams instead of just holes for the lagbolts. To take some of the pressure off the cantilevered lag bolts (and to provide for a fail safe) the beams have chain wrapped around their ends, which is cabled to an eye bolt or limb higher up.
There is more flexibility in what gets built on top of the beams than where the beams go, so at this point in the game it’s time to do a lot of standing around in different spots, scratching your chin. This is what I came up with. It looks big but the actual treehouse will only be around 5 1/2 feet wide and 6 1/2 feet long. It’s big enough that two adults will be able to sleep on the floor, while two little ones will be able to sleep in a fold down cot platforms, or when they are older, a sleeping loft. There will be just enough room for two adults to stretch their legs out in two chairs on the deck. The deck railing will be made of cedar log posts, with cedar branches sandwiched between cedar 2x4s between them. A steep ship’s ladder will descend off the SW side. It will have single pane recycled windows and doors, a swooped roof, and sidewall cedar shingles. Other fun things will be a secret compartment beneath the treehouse floor, and of course a bucket and pulley for hoisting up important things like water balloons from below. Most of the cedar I hoped to have milled up on site from the other down cedars with the help of a friend of mine who has a portable sawmill.
I’ve got the joists and blocking cut and stained. Now I just need some spare time to go over and nail them in. Ha!
More to come on this project.