Finishing all the main players on the Jungle Fort has certainly taken many of my weekends but the satisfaction of this construction shows on my childrens face every time they play on it. The one main outstanding item that is missing is the climbing wall but this can only be installed after I’ve fitted the picnic bench.
I had already cut to size the pressure treated lumber rather than using the WPL (wood polymer lumber) so as to keep the look consistent. This would be used for the seats and the table top. The first phase of the installation would be to secure the supports for the seats and the table top to the uprights of the Jungle Fort. These supports would be secured by 5 inch by 3/8 inch galvanized lag bolts. I had decided to counterbore the position of these bolts so that the head would not be protruding from the material after tightening, even though it would only be by a small amount. The instuctions only called for the lag bolts to be fastened into position. I later found out why, with the counterbore the lag bolt would be tightened and it would burst through the other side of the upright. this would entail cutting off the offending point with a hacksaw and then filing flush with the timber. This was an unfortunate oversight by myself but the end result left no sharp edges, it was additional work but I was pleased with the result.
As you can see from the image the uprights show signs of scarring after the tips of the lag bolts had been cut off and filed flush. I wasn’t concerned as the one side would eventually be filled in by the rock wall but the otherside would have to be restained. Positioning of the supports was easy enough as I had the base surround to measure up from, there was little in way of variance from being horizontal so I didn’t have to adjust the positions by much but I still checked with a spirit level, just to make sure.
The bench seats consisted of two lengths of 6 inch by 2 inch by 64 1/2 inch pine that would be held together by three bottom supports. The supports were made up of 2 inch by 4 inch lengths with 45° chamfers on each end to eliminate the sharp edges to a certain degree. As you all well know, with children they are always crawling under the table and chairs so with this extra cut it will help to minimize the amount of bangs to the head from potentially sharp corners.
To align the supports for the bench seats, lines were scribed 5 1/8 inches from each end together with a centerline. This allowed for the supports at each end to be positioned up to the line and fixed to the seat tops by 2 1/2 inch drywall screws. For this I had set up my three drill gun rig with screw bit, drill and countersink. If I had been using the WPL material I would probably have burst through with the screw because of the thinner material but using the pine I could continue with confidence.
I made sure to align each end support directly on the scribed line as this overall dimension would in fact be the distance between the supports on the Jungle Fort, this would give a snug fit once placed into position. The last support to fix on was the center piece, each support would have a total of six drywall screws with three screws per board staggered along its length.
With the bench seats done and placed in position I would have to wait until I started to fit the rock wall to see if the one end would have to be trimmed. The bench seat would be a snug fit directly against the rock wall but if I have a slight twist in the frame I may have to remove a little of the material on the bench seat so that the rock wall doesn’t bulge out where they meet.
As you can see from the image the bench seat goes completely out to the edge of the main uprights.
In a similar fashion I would approached the table top. The six lengths of pine were placed face down on my driveway, this being the flattest available surface. I made sure to start the ends level with each other and square to the outer board checking with my framing square. The same dimension applied to the table top, a 5 1/8 inch scribe line from each end of the board. This would provide a snug fitment to the cross supports on the Jungle Fort.
When securing the the three supports to the underside of the table top I would have to start with one of the end supports first. I wanted to make sure that the boards remained as tight a fit as possible. This entailed driving one drywall screw per board, just to secure them into position.
Next I would place the other end support into position and repeat the sequence. With the boards snug together I could continue to secure each board with additional drywall screws, the last support was placed centrally and also screwed into position. The overall table top was extremely sturdy and heavy at the same time.
The one thing that you cannot adjust for is the twist in the boards. Even though the boards are secured with drywall screws they will not pull the board straight, the screw will just keep winding into the wood. This is the trade off between using pine boards and WPL, WPL will be very stable but more care has to be taken when securing to the supports where as wood boards are less stable but easier to secure.
Placing the table top on again resulted in a nice snug fit and the beauty of this is I will not have to drywall screw the table top or the bench seats down. By leaving them loose will enable me to remove them when it is time to trim the grass beneath but I am sure the grass will eventually die due to lack of water and sunlight.
The first thing that we did was to try out the bench seats and table and it was surprising how comfortable it was but then again how much comfort can you get out of a bench seat!
The end of the table that meets the rock wall will have to be assessed once the rock wall is under construction. The fact that the total length of the table top equates to the depth of the Jungle Fort will probably mean that I will have to trim the end with the jigsaw to make everything fit tight. Even a slight twist in the frame work will pull the table top into the path of the rock wall.
Just to satisfy my curiosity I offered up one of the boards that would make up the rock wall and I found that there was an interference of 1/4 inch tapering to zero. It would appear that I would have to trim the table end to prevent the rock wall from bowing out at that point, not a big deal and an easy fix.
The last item to finish off the pinic table was to install the cover. We had opted for a yellow and blue striped tarp and the installation consisted of screwing the snaps underneath the table top.
With one half of the snap already pre-installed on the cover itself I centralized the cover on the table top and folded the ends under, pushing each snap to the underneath of the table top and indenting the snap position. The second half of the snap then being screwed into each position, by completing one side first I was able to stretch the tarp to give a reasonably tight fit.
The amount of wrap under with the cover did interfere with the supports that held the table top together. I found that the positioning of the snaps would end up with some on the bottom of the table and some on the supports. This was not a problem but resulted with the cover being a little loose in a couple of areas where it would wrap around the support. I thought maybe I had installed the cover the wrong way around but after rechecking the length and width it was the only way it could be installed.
Now that the picnic table had been completed I could focus on the last major construction piece, but first my helpers need a Popsicle break!