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Our DIY Playset, Part 1: The Tower

A while ago I showed you the playground Andy built for Weston, but every time I sat down to write the tutorial, I wanted to poke myself in the retina with a fork. Projects like this – following instructions, putting together puzzles, etc – are just not as fun to me as, you know… picking out fabrics. Laying on the hammock. Eating more cookies.
Build your own wood swingset/playset for your kids! Complete diagrams and step-by-step pics!




So guess who’s heeee-eeere! Everybody say hi to my contractor husband Andy, who’ll tell you how to do this thang.

***

First, I need to warn you that I am a math teacher, with all the nerdiness and illiteracy that comes with that.  I don’t do “words” or “sentences.” (But I sure can tear up a graphing calculator and geek out an excel spreadsheet.)  So take all your expectations of my wonderful wife’s fancy writing (and pesky things like proper grammar) and throw them out your beautifully decorated windows.

Here are the facts. Please take notes and be sure to raise your hand if you have any questions.

This will be on your final exam.

When we decided to get Weston a playset we started shopping around and found that they start at more than $1,000 for what we want – so I decided to build one myself.  I googled playset plans but couldn’t find anything I liked, so it was time to come up with our own plans.

I found inspiration online, like this photo, and decided to try to build something like this but BIGGER. HUGE. My kid needs the biggest tower in the neighborhood, know what I mean? I wanted Weston and me to have lots of room for ACTIVITIES!!

(Will Ferrell reference, anyone?) I also want to be able to upgrade and add on things like a climbing wall, a second level, a rooftop pool and other crazy things that Kelly will never approve of.

Here is a list of the materials we used and prices we found.  I also included the cost after using a coupon we found on ebay.

We can totally use the $70 we saved to buy a bungee so Weston can bungee jump off of the tower.

(Kelly, please disregard.)

You will also need these tools:

  • hammer
  • miter saw
  • jig saw
  • drill with a long 5/16″ drill bit
  • and a 1/2″ socket or wrench.

First, find a safe, level area for your playset.  The whole thing ends up being about 18 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

Once you have all of your materials, cut and assemble two of these things, which will become two sides of the tower.

Playset Tower Sides

Drill holes for each of the 5/16″ bolts, washers, and nuts to attach everything and check to make sure it’s square.  I used two bolts to attach each of the 2″x6″ boards and one bolt for the 2″x4″s.

Next we connect both sides of the tower together with 6-foot 2×6′s and 2×4′s to complete the tower frame.

Playset Tower

Now you can install the decking support and decking.  Cut and install the deck supports with screws like this.

Then cut and install the decking on top using the deck screws.  Use a jig saw to cut around the 4×4 posts for the first and last piece of decking. (See pic below.)

Now we installed a piece of 2×2 around the outside of the posts on top of the decking with the deck screws just like the picture below.

2 by 2Next we cut the 2×4′s to make 26 slats (Is that what they’re called? Let’s call them slats.) and installed them using deck screws.

RailsBe sure to leave a hole for the ladder and slide.

Ladder holeOn the side where you’ll attach the swing, leave a hole in the middle so you can build some supports like this later on.

Beam SupportSo you really only have one side completely closed in for now. We’ll close in the opposite side after we install the 4×6 beam later.

At this point I got sick of climbing up into my gigantic tower, so I built a ladder out of 2x4s by cutting side pieces at an angle on both ends and screwing the steps in parallel to the ground, then attached the whole thing to the tower.

Ladder
For a more exciting dismount while finishing the tower, I attached the slide at this point.

I may or may not have taken several breaks to “test out” the slide.

And now you have a magical tower you can use for important bonding activities with your kids, like hide and seek, light saber duels, bungee jumping and other important developmental activities.

This should keep you busy for a day or so. Next time I’ll show you how to build the swingset portion… when (if) Kelly decides to relinquish control of the ol’ blog once again.

Update: You can check out part 2 of this post at this link.

Build your own wood swingset/playset for your kids! Complete diagrams and step-by-step pics!



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Comments

  1. Skye says:

    Totally hilarious and completely cracked me up! I didn’t understand the directions in the least but I laughed a lot. :) More posts from Andy!!

  2. Woo hoo! Go Andy!!! You did a fantastic job!! That is really quite impressive. I’m glad to see you jumping into Kelly’s forum here – boys can blog too, it’s okay. ;) In fact, I’m going to get my hubby (also a fellow nerdy guy ;) to post on some things in the next few weeks, like no VOC paints, etc.
    All the best,
    Cat@budgetblonde.com

  3. I wish I had kids NOW so we (Rick) could build this for them! We inherited one with the house but it needs some….TLC before kids can play on it. (Like should the swing bar sag and snap when you move the swing?) I raised my hand to ask that question because I am a good student. And I didn’t forget my pencil, either, for note-taking. (Do 9th graders in Georgia have as much trouble with those 2 rules as the 9th graders in NY?) :)

    And I agree, Kelly, about writing these building tutorials. (Booooooring. But important, nonetheless.) It never occurred to me to poke myself in the retina with a fork. Must remember that in the future.

  4. Hannah says:

    I love this! Can we please please see the rest- we have been wanting to build one in our yard, but we don’t care for mort of the plans we’ve found, this one is gorgeous though,

  5. Roeshel says:

    Awesome! How fun!

  6. ange says:

    Andy you are a rock star! Will we be seeing you at Haven too? Great post and my eyes only glazed over about 1/3 of the way through. My hubby would thoroughly enjoy this post, he was a math major and is a geek major in real life. Ok he really is and would agree with me on this. Anyways, nice playground!

  7. Amazing!!! My dad built us a playground when we were young, similar to this one. We made a lot of good memories there! :)

  8. mamaliz says:

    Wanta come build one for my grandbaby………

  9. Danny says:

    Great job! This is pretty much what I had in mind after seeing a lot of store-bought sets and seeing that I can build it myself and with the features I want. One question, what tool do you use for the design pictures? I want to design mine, which will be slightly smaller, and will have other components. Please email me with the answer if you don’t mind.

  10. Alison says:

    Thank you for writing this blog! My husband and I would love to build this for our two young daughters, but we would like to make the first floor into a playhouse (with a deck and half walls). Would it change the plans substantially to make the first floor taller? My husband says it’s just a matter of simple trig. to adjust the swing set portion.

    • Kelly says:

      If you adjust the swing set portion, the only other adjustment we can think of is that you’d need a longer slide and ramp/ladder. Having a play house underneath is such a fun idea!

  11. Mike says:

    Hi Kelly

    Just wanted to thank you for posting these great detailed plans, and let you know that I added a link to this page on our new post http://www.totalplaygrounds.com/blog/28-free-diy-playset-plans/

    You have some really cool projects on this site btw! Glad I found it.

  12. Karl Jessen says:

    Important Playset Ladder Safety Notice: This can potentially save a child’s life, make sure that the distance between top ladder step and the deck is 9″. Plans Kits that have been designed to meet exceed ASTM/CPSC safety standards: http://www.detailedplay.com/SwingsetPlans.htm

    • Karl Jessen says:

      ….make sure that the distance between top ladder step and the deck is less than 3″ or greater than 9″. (blog form seemed to remove the less than greater than special characters, opening 9″

      • Konni says:

        Can you tell me what angle you cut the top and bottom boards for the ladder? Also, how long are the sides of the ladder? Thanks!

  13. Tim says:

    Can you tell me where you bought your slide from? I am having a tough time finding a reasonably priced 8 foot slide.

  14. Joe says:

    Did you have to anchor this playset to the ground or was it heavy enough to support its own weight?

  15. Erick S says:

    Hi, I absolutely love this and will build it for my son as soon as I have some extra spare change.
    I just have three questions though.
    The first is that I don’t know if I missed it or if it was forgotten, but what are the dimensions of the wood that make the “v” on the swing side of the tower?
    Also, when attaching the 2 by’s to make the tower, how did you space out the holes for the deck screws so that they didn’t hit each other going into the 4x4s? (Hopefully you get what I’m asking).
    Finally, did you use regular lumber and decking or did you use treated lumber and decking to build this?
    Probably silly questions but I’m a newbie woodworker and brand new home owner so I’m doing what i can to learn to build and update our home for my family.

    • Kelly says:

      1. It’s 2 8-foot pieces of 4×4. We just notched them and opened them up to an angle that seemed sturdy.
      2. We offset the bolts so they didn’t hit each other.
      3. Pretreated. :)

  16. kipp says:

    there is no mention of deck screws in the supplies needed section. only until i’m in the middle of building AND after i have left the hardware store is there a mention of deck screws. what size were used and how many? i’m also guessing they were wood screws? later.

Trackbacks

  1. My First Christmas Holiday Playset says:

    [...] How to Build a DIY Playground Playset | * View Along the Way * First find a safe, level area for your playset The whole thing ends up being about 18 feet wide and 15 feet deep. Once you have all of your materials, cut and assemble two of these things, which will become two sides of the tower. [...]

  2. [...] Andy again!) If you tuned in last week for the first part of our playground tutorial, you probably already have your tower complete, right? Maybe you even closed in the walls, painted [...]

  3. [...] How to Build a DIY Playground Playset | * View Along the Way * First find a safe, level area for your playset The whole thing ends up being about 18 feet wide and 15 feet deep. Once you have all of your materials, cut and assemble two of these things, which will become two sides [...]

  4. [...] that all I do is blog about the amazing things my husband creates. Built-ins, woodworking projects, playsets. Don’t think [...]

  5. [...] without a roof over his head, we’ve provided shelter. (On his playset.) We left off with our DIY playset tutorial – see part 1 and part 2 – unsure how we’d be creating a roof on the tower [...]

  6. blank 2 says:

    [...] reach his goal, he must complete certain (mathematical) challenges.His first mathy home project was our DIY playset. He beat that level – I mean, completed that task – with flying colors. And a few [...]

  7. [...] first mathy home project was our DIY playset. He beat that level – I mean, completed that task – with flying colors. And a few [...]

  8. [...] the LAST part of our playset tutorial. If you missed the first three parts, you can check them out here, here and here. [...]

  9. [...] we built a playground for our kiddos that might serve them better if it was structurally sound and not a giant [...]

  10. [...] From one of those chairs, you can probably see four primary-colored plastic toys, one large wooden playground, three possibly-not-working powerwheels vehicles and an ugly plastic [...]

  11. [...] we stumbled upon this one! It gave us lots of opportunity to redneck-it-out and add our deck and DIY playground, so now we live in our backyard when the weather’s nice. (So, like, not in July. Or when [...]

  12. [...] How to build a DIY playset with tower Kelly of “View along the way” provides a great outline that’s well-documented, [...]

  13. […] We won’t be doing a detailed tutorial on building the basic swing set structure, because we pretty much just stole it from Kelly and Andy at View Along the Way: […]

  14. […] I wrote the first post about the tower, I directed you to the tutorial over at View Along the Way because we mostly just followed that, with minor variations. But here I’m going to talk about […]

  15. […] have all the detail you need. Maybe even more than you need. For the tower part, we referred you to View Along the Way’s plans, because we did ours pretty much the same way. For this part, we kind of went rogue on a few key […]

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