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There are plenty of reasons to make your own playset. Perhaps you have a challenging yard configuration and can't find a playset that will "fit". Perhaps you don't want to fork out thousands of US Dollars for the playset you want. Perhaps you want the coolest set around with a configuration that isn't available. Perhaps you just want to build your own set.
See our Playsets Page for more on Playsets
DIY Kits and Plans:
Play fort plans
Kids Trapdoor Fort (Web Archive and purchase-011s)
buildeazy.com playfort_1 also see woodworx.co.nz forts.htm
Cool Forts free kid clubhouse designs
Build a Backyard Play Structureure
6'x6' Stockade Playfort
Building a children's play structure
Detailed Play Systems DIY Kits and Accessories
Backyard City Wooden Set Kits & Plans
Jack's Backyard Do-It-Yourself Wood Fort and Swing Set Plans
DIY Network How to Build a Double Decker Playhouse
Swing-N-Slide Hardward Kits, just and 4x4 Kits and Accessories
Play Providers (web.archive) Commercial hardware
Instructables DIY Raised Fort
Detailed PlayPlay Kits and Accessories
Playset Junciton DIY Plans
L & R Designs DIY Plans
How to Install a Backyard Play Structure
The Fort Project (web.archive)
2 Story Fort Playhouseouse
DIY Play UK site with Kits and Accessories - "Rope Bridge"
25 Free Backyard Playground Plans for Kids: Playsets, Swingsets, Teeter Totters and More!
Build a Playgound Slide (was this)
Building a Stand-Alone Swing Frame (web.archive)
Rohan's Playset is Almost Done
Biggest Play Fort Ever
Ugliest Fort Ever
emmadan.co.uk (Poorly Archived)
Mr. Crow Builds His Dream Houseouse
Homemade Wooden Playhouses
How To Built A Carport
Telephone Pole Forts
Wheaton Big Truck (Poor Archive)
Adventure Tower make-digital pg 178
Converters for Measurements and Planning:
Decimal to Fraction Converter
Fraction to Decimal Converter
Common Wood Dimensions
|Nominal||Actual||Actual - Metric|
|1" x 2"||3/4" x 1-1/2"||19 x 38 mm|
|1" x 3"||3/4" x 2-1/2"||19 x 64 mm|
|1" x 4"||3/4" x 3-1/2"||19 x 89 mm|
|1" x 5"||3/4" x 4-1/2"||19 x 114 mm|
|1" x 6"||3/4" x 5-1/2"||19 x 140 mm|
|1" x 7"||3/4" x 6-1/4"||19 x 159 mm|
|1" x 8"||3/4" x 7-1/4"||19 x 184 mm|
|1" x 10"||3/4" x 9-1/4"||19 x 235 mm|
|1" x 12"||3/4" x 11-1/4"||19 x 286 mm|
|1-1/4" x 4"||1" x 3-1/2"||25 x 89 mm|
|1-1/4" x 6"||1" x 5-1/2"||25 x 140 mm|
|1-1/4" x 8"||1" x 7-1/4"||25 x 184 mm|
|1-1/4" x 10"||1" x 9-1/4"||25 x 235 mm|
|1-1/4" x 12"||1" x 11-1/4"||25 x 286 mm|
|1-1/2" x 4"||1-1/4" x 3-1/2"||32 x 89 mm|
|1-1/2" x 6"||1-1/4" x 5-1/2"||32 x 140 mm|
|1-1/2" x 8"||1-1/4" x 7-1/4"||32 x 184 mm|
|1-1/2" x 10"||1-1/4" x 9-1/4"||32 x 235 mm|
|1-1/2" x 12"||1-1/4" x 11-1/4"||32 x 286 mm|
|2" x 4"||1-1/2" x 3-1/2"||38 x 89 mm|
|2" x 6"||1-1/2" x 5-1/2"||38 x 140 mm|
|2" x 8"||1-1/2" x 7-1/4"||38 x 184 mm|
|2" x 10"||1-1/2" x 9-1/4"||38 x 235 mm|
|2" x 12"||1-1/2" x 11-1/4"||38 x 286 mm|
|3" x 6"||2-1/2" x 5-1/2"||64 x 140 mm|
|4" x 4"||3-1/2" x 3-1/2"||89 x 89 mm|
|4" x 6"||3-1/2" x 5-1/2"||89 x 140 mm|
Research the various commercial and home built playsets that are out there. Browse through the links on our Playsets Page and get an idea of what others think a playset should look like.
Look at the yard or area where you think you want a playset. Take careful measurements.
Read up on Playset Safety. You really should have soft stuff under your playset (Play Surface Safety) and a 6 foot perimeter that doesn't have any protruding or hard objects.
Compare your proposed site measurements with the safety guidelines you researched and determine how much area you really have to work with.
Go back and take a relook at the play sets that you liked and the ones that weren't big enough. Figure out what will fit and what you can afford. You may need to compromise on playset size, configuration, location or even safety. Safety is unfortunately compromised more than the others.
Do you still want to build your own set? Is there a set that is within your budget that will fit your needs and only needs assembly or a phone call and credit card?
Take what you know now and draw up plans.
Configuration of Playset
Basic A-Frame swing set only - easy to do, lots of fun
Fort with or without slide
Fort combo with A-Frame swings and other accessories
Themed playset - very difficult, generally larger, may not be finished in time for children to play in
Fort Frame Design
The frame must be strong enough to hold your playset accessories and the abuse of several evil children without collapsing on them.
Basic 4 Post Square Fort is the easiest to design. There is good economy of space and is often used in Space Saver models. I requires a small level footprint.
Angled Base Forts are more stable than unangled designs. They generally take up a larger footprint than the floor of the fort and are more complex to design. They can be a little more forgiving to surfaces/yards that are not even. One angle use in many playsets is 27 degrees, which is a good compromise of footprint size, stability and load bearing capabilities of the design.
Pyramid Shaped Towers allow for a very stable and unique looking play structure. These can be very challenging to make.
The pyramid shaped Adventure Tower shown above allows for a very stable structure, but will require some ingenuity when designing a rain/sun cover, brackets and swing beams.
The top of a pyramid frame can be held together in a number of ways.
Three plates welded together 120º from each other can be used as show above. Three separate plates bent 60º (to make a 120º bend) can be used to sandwich the beams. These can then be locked together by welding on a top and bottom plate or welding on strips of angle iron between each plate.
The base and platform beams can be bolted onto the frame beams with carful angled drilling. Alternatively, special brackets can be used.
Brackets bent at 30º (to make a 150º bend) can be used to sandwich the frame beams. Use of a single bolt hole centered on the beam will make aligning the brackets significanly easier than using multiple bolt holes (as shown above) on the frame beams. Brackets bent at 60º bent plate (making a 120º bend) allows you to bolt a plate the the outer or inner facing side of the frame supports.
Themed Playsets can be really fun. Common themes include castles (war as well as princes ones), ships, tree houses, space ships, silly houses, junk yard creations, log forts and such. Imagination, carpentry skills, time and money are your only limits.
Slide - many types and sizes
Rock climbing walls
Swiss Cheese Holes in Plywood
Swings - many kinds, many configurations (on A-frame attached to fort, on overhanging rafter, under fort)
adult reclining chair swings
Monkey Bars and hanging hand holds to grab and negotiate
A Weekend in Franklin, TN Real Fort
Wood roofs - boards or singles
Corrugated plastic or metal
Bury posts in ground
Anchor frame to ground with ground screws
Ground Anchor - Sharpened 2x4s used as tent stakes or screw in anchors
Angled frame supports to keep fort square
These diagonal supports can be full length as shown above or just at the corner junctions for less obstructive support.
Two 18 inch long 2x4s can be cut with 45 degree ends and assembled as shown above.
This allows you to brace overlapping section of frame without fancy metal braces or fancy cutting of 4x4s.
Board and boxed structure (castle walls)
Single main platform
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