Constructing a Kid's Fort

Create a cool playhouse for your kids.

hdswt105_2aft_fort

After: The Perfect Fort

Materials and Tools:

4 2x6s
10 5/4x6x8 decking
4 4x4 posts
4 1x6s for railing
6 sheets of 1/2" plywood
20 2x4s
paint
12 joist hangers for 2x6
4 bags of quick-set concrete
clamps
corrugated plastic
miter box
circular saw
reciprocating saw
jigsaw
hammer and nails or nail gun
level
chainsaw
router with roundover bit

Tips/Benefits:

  • When building a tree house or fort, be sure to follow local building codes. Most localities consider play equipment a deck as far as codes go, so consider the floor joist size, railing spacing and hardware such as joist hangers.
  • For young children, it's best to not have any working doors or windows in a playhouse. This allows parents to see in all the time to supervise and protects little fingers from getting pinched.
  • Clear corrugated plastic roofing is a great choice for playhouses. It lets light in, keeps the rain out and is fairly inexpensive.

Steps:

1. Measure for a 4x8 platform, marking the four corners. Dig holes in the corners for the 4x4 posts.

2. Set the posts in holes dry. Start hanging the 2x6s as a perimeter band off of the high corner, making sure to keep the boards level with each other. The perimeter band will act as the border for the floor, as well as brace the posts while the concrete sets.

hdswt105_2b_nail2x6topost

3. Double check posts to make sure they are level.

4. Pour quick-set concrete into holes, according to manufacturer's instructions. Add more bracing if necessary. Let dry.

5. While the concrete is setting, build the house out of 2x4s and plywood. Cut the plywood to the desired dimensions and build a frame to match with the 2x4s. Nail the plywood to the frame. For this project, they cut the front wall with a four feet wide base and six feet wide top. The back wall is four feet wide at the bottom and five feet wide at the top with the sides built to fit. After walls are built, attach them together with clamps and then nail together.

hdswt105_2c_buildfortwalls

6. The roof is made of a grid of 2x4s with bird's mouth notches in the rafters. Attach corrugated plastic by drilling holes into the wood and screwing into place.

hdswt105_2f_corrugatedplastic2

7. Cut the doors and windows where desired. Run a router with a roundover bit around all the openings to protect the kids' fingers.

8. Install 2x4 floor joists by nailing through the outside of the perimeter band. To secure the joist, install joist hangers on each end of every joist.

9. Cut the back posts flush with floor joist. Cut front posts off 24 inches above floor joist. These posts will be used to support handrail.

10. Lay decking and nail into floor joists.

hdswt105_2k_laydecking

11. With help, place the built house on top of the platform and secure by nailing through the bottom of the frame into the decking.

12. Nail 1x6s to posts to create the railing around balcony.

13. Build an angled stepladder up to the fort two 2x4 rails. Cut three or four horizontal steps using the 2x4s and a circular saw. Nail the steps to the rails with a nail gun or hammer and nails. Attach the roof by nailing through the top of the frame.

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