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DIY Playground Tutorial, Part 3: New Ramp and Tower Changes

FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY. After a year of our poor tiny child having to live 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 portion, with promises to complete that for you soon. We lied. We’re sorry. But if it makes it easier to forgive us for our tardiness, consider that our own firstborn has suffered the consequences of our delay as well. (Maybe that makes it worse?)

Anyway, here we are with Part 3! Written by Andy, since he’s the one who created these plans. And then executed them. And who is a math teacher, and therefore gets forced to write all the lengthy mathy woodworking tutorials on this blog.

I know we said we’d be telling you how to build the roof portion of the playset today, but before we did that, we made a few changes to the original design to solve a couple of problems. This is how it looked when we left off:

DIY wooden playground/playset tutorial with plans These are optional steps, but I want to show them to you first, so you can see why we built the roof the way we did.

Problem number 1: Definitely not toddler accessible.

Playset Playground Wood Ladder

There is no way that our barely walking one-year-old was going to climb this ladder.  So I starting thinking of other ways to get him from the ground to the inevitable fun above.  My first solution involved a some sort of jetpack to propel him into the playset.

Fly with a jetpack

But even with all of Kelly’s Craigslist Shopping Tips, I couldn’t find one online in the budget. Hey Fisher Price, there’s a gap in the market here!

So on to plan B: build a nice little ramp in place of the steps.

wood playset ramp ladder
I used the same decking boards that make up the floor of the tower.  The sides are 2×4’s with 45-degree cuts at both ends.  The steps are 1×2’s.  And underneath I used several 2×4’s to hold it all together.
Playset Ramp Ladder Side Shot
I screwed it all together with the same screws that we used on the decking for the tower.  Then I attached it to the tower with hinges so I could put the ramp up and hold it in place when I didn’t want Weston to be able to access it.
Playset bottom of ramp
The whole ramp is 6 ft. long and 22 3/4 in. wide.  To build it, I layed the 4 pieces of decking on the ground with a little space between them, and then screwed the cross 2×4’s onto the decking.  Then attached the side rails with screws from below.  Then screwed all of the steps from above.  You could also just permanently mount the ramp to the tower if you don’t like my hinge idea.
top of playset ramp ladder up close

The extra lumber needed for the ramp option:

  • 3 8′ 2×4’s
  • 2 12′ decking
  • 2 8′ 1×2’s

Total cost for the ramp was about $15.

Problem #2: Guaranteed head injury to enter and exit the tower

Look how nicely little one year old Weston fits through the hole to go down the slide.

Baby on playground playset

Now imagine our huge, rambunctious, klutzy two-year-old trying to fit through that same hole.  Ouch!

So we raised it up like this.

It was an easy fix but I did have to buy a couple more 8-foot 2×4 boards.  Here’s how I did it.
Playset how we fixed small hole

Move board #1 up to the top.  Remove boards 2 and 3, cut them a little shorter to fit their new spot and then screw them in.  Boards 4 and 5 are new. Cut these to the correct length and then screw them in.  Repeat on the other side of the tower.  (Notice how board number 1 sticks out too far on the left and right?  That’s okay – we need that to happen to build the roof.)

I’ll be back Monday with Part 4 (the last part!) to show you how we built the roof and created our own shelter. Let’s be honest: there’s nothing more manly than making your own shelter.

(Yes, even if it’s the shelter on a kids’ playset.)

Have you attempted anything like this? Ever left a project for a year before you finished it?

Let's connect


  1. the ramp is perfect! i used to freak out when my kids would climb ladders at the playground! wish you had built a ramp for the park playground….. geesh.

  2. You are too funny, Kelly! I think you should print out that superhero powerpack picture and hang it in the little man’s room!!!

  3. Erin @ His & Hers says:

    I have been waiting for that jetpacked Weston picture. 😉

  4. Awesome! Man, Westin looks pretty awesome in both of these pictures. In one picture, he’s practically superman and in the other, he’s like a Man-Child. The playground is coming along! Looking good!

  5. I love that you have King Kong for a child 🙂 Y’all are too funny! I am so impressed you guys built this too. My hubby needs to step up his game!

  6. The ramp is such a great idea for your little one! And I love the hinges so he can’t just run out there and climb up whenever he wants! 🙂

  7. So good to see that your husband doesn’t just have mad math skills … he has mad funny skills too!



  8. OK, the realistic scale was too darn funny!


  9. Yay!! I’ll be right over to play. 🙂

  10. Nice job Andy! I’ll admit most of it went flying over my head but if I a) ever have a child and b) need to supply shade to his/her playset, I’ll know where to turn.
    PS – Plans for the jetpack pick? I see that in Weston’s future senior yearbook.

  11. Heheahhaaa… So funny. Weston sure is a lucky boy!

  12. Wait, hold on, I’m late to this party. You MADE that?! Like all by yourselves?! Whoa, seriously impressive.

  13. Um, how has Weston not figured out how to climb up the slide? My kids prefer that way to climbing a ramp:)

    So, remember how you are feeling bad for the year plus wait? Well we promised our kids a diy playset this summer (promised in April/May) and we are nowhere close. At least it doesn’t snow here so we could always pull it off in October:)


  14. oooh….. we need to do this for my 4 year old. He would so love this! Heck even I would get on it..haha

  15. Yall are so super duper awesome! This is looking fantastic!

  16. Arent you concerned that the method you used to attach your 4×6 x 10 swingset to the tower is unsafe. While downward pressure it may be fine, the 2×4 would flex to and fro as people swing on the set causing the next to prevent twisting which over time will yank itself out of that tiny support structure.

    Also, I hope you are using hot dipped galvanized or ACQ rated fasteners, especially in the areas where safety would be a concern such as for people under the tower, on top or even on the swings.

    • Nope, not concerned about that. It’s not just resting in there where it can be twisted out. It’s screwed down from the top and in from the sides, so it’s very VERY secure. No concerns with that at all. Thanks for the comment!

    • You could also pour concrete footers and anchor the posts to them, but it’s a playset designed to hold kids, not a deck needing to hold a hot tub full of water. The materials they used alone make it 10x more “safe” than the $1000+ sets made of light weight cedar. Adults could safely swing on this, you can’t say that about the store bought variety. And unfortunately kids grow up, it doesn’t need to last forever.

  17. I have seriously been reading your old blog posts for like.. hmm.. 4 hours today (I’m not a creep, promise!!… kinda.) and I just had to comment how much I loved this one! Not because I have any intentions on building a cool playset (Andy, where are the adult-sized plans?!!?!) but because I just couldn’t stop laughing at the pics of Weston with the jetpack and as a grotesquely large toddler!! HAHAHA! Ahh dying in my cube.

    Yes, I have been reading your blog at work for 4 hours. SUCCESS.

  18. Hi! I am looking for plans for our 4 year old and these look pretty awesome! Do you think the structure would be safe with JUST the tower? Our son loves to slide and climb- not as big on the swing part. If you think that it needs the swing section, do you think this plan could support a tire swing instead of the traditional swings? thanks!!

    • I don’t think the swing section provides any structural support, so the tower portion alone should be just fine.

  19. I’m curious how the mesh tarp roof has held up. I am thinking of something similar, but am worried I’ll be replacing it every year after a big thunderstorm, in which case a wood roof may be better.

    • You know what? We actually had a hailstorm come through and we had to get our roof replaced on our house, but the mesh tarp is holding strong! Isn’t that crazy? It’s been a couple years now and it still looks perfect.

  20. Hello just wanted to add a thank you very much I followed the general outline and completed a tower for my kids they have fun for hours…. I’m like nap time and all I get r boos whooos thanks 02.24.2017


  1. […] any outdoor projects in the middle of summer? I’d love to hear about it!UPDATE: Check out Part 3 and Part 4!var linkwithin_site_id=752147;var linkwithin_div_class="linkwithin_hook"; { 5 […]

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

  3. […] I used the same construction plan for the ramp Andy described, with four deck boards for the floor, two 2x4s for side rails, four 2x4s on the underside to hold […]

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