Category Archives: Child’s Play

Upward Bound with the Jungle Fort

With the integrity of the structure now assured I can now strengthen the upper level of the Jungle Fort before placing in the decking. The first task was to bolt in all the upper beams that would provide support for the slats that would make up the walls and provide support for the additional structures such as monkey bars, rock wall and swing set. These cross members were drilled to accept the large 5 inch coach bolts leaving no doubt that they were there to stay.

During the construction I had changed the design so that the largest beam would be on the left side overhanging the front and rear of the Jungle Fort. This would provide enough space for a rope ladder and possibly a disc swing if we decided to go that route but as of now that decision has still not been finalized. I couldn’t ponder on this issue too long with this beam being a structural part of the fort so I just had to make provision for the additional items, on the assumption of, that is what we’ll do. In the event that we decide not to go that way I can either cut off the additional length that overhangs or leave it as it is. The optional length of this beam also needed a brace to prevent sway, this was placed underneath and installed with lag bolts but again this is easily removed if in fact it isn’t used. Continue reading Upward Bound with the Jungle Fort

Anchor and Brace the Fort

While I have been constructing the frame work I have been considering the best way to hold this structure in place, that is, stopping it from possibly swaying once the swings are in full flight. The plans suggest using some of the off-cuts of the preserved timber to produce stakes of between 12 and 18 inches in length and pounding them into the ground next to the base frame and securing them with galvanized deck screws. I had on the previous swing set used this method for holding it down but was a little disappointed with the result, the base did move when the swings were in full flight so I decided to use the steel mixer type ground holds. These items are screwed into the ground up to a depth of twelve inches and will need the help of a bar through the eye of the anchor to gain the required torque to get them to the full depth, but once in there, there’s no way that they will pull out.

To provide the best support possible I placed the anchors in each of the corners by the main uprights so that the seat positions would cover the steel end loop. Connecting to the uprights was by using the steel straps provided with several holes punched in so that I could loop it around the eye of the anchor and connect it to the frame with a lag bolt. The effort required to get them to the full depth proved to be harder than I though especially in this tight confinement but once there I feel confident that it will restrict any movement. Continue reading Anchor and Brace the Fort

Assembling the Jungle Fort Frame

I’m amazed at how many parts have to be cut, drilled, counterbored and redwood stained to the extent that I’ve decided to start building this puppy. Needless to say there is still the cutting list to go through for making the picnic bench and rock wall but these items are non-structural so that can be done after all the other elements are put together.

I found that even though I marked each piece with a pencil to identify the part, once it was stained it became difficult to read so it’s a question of measuring against the cutting list and marking again. I wouldn’t of bothered but there’s a mountain of parts to go through and I wanted to save a little time rather than measuring each time I needed a piece. I also found that after staining, it may be necessary to rub down with fine sand paper to take the roughness off but this will be done once it’s all assembled, I don’t want the children to get gravel rash from the wood!

Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve ordered the extra hand grips and additional rock wall holds together with two sets of the steel ground anchors. I opted for the steel anchors because I can screw them into the ground to a depth of twelve inches and with the flat mixer type end it would act as an additional resistance if the frame should start to sway. With the wood type anchor, even if they were pounded to a depth greater than twelve inches they still have smooth sides that could become loose over time. Maybe I’m getting concerned over nothing but at least it puts my mind at rest, at the end of the day the weight should be sufficient to prevent it from moving but as the instructions insist, anchor the structure down. Continue reading Assembling the Jungle Fort Frame

Bolt Holes and Preserving the Jungle Fort

Man! Talk about coming to a screaming halt, these past few weeks have really bit into the creativity in me, family commitments and visits to friends have eaten every available spare minute so as you can imagine not much has been done to expedite the project forward. The one thing that I can say is, the lumber is drying out nicely on the driveway but I’d rather be at the assembly point now rather than sanding and coating with preserve. I have noticed some hairline cracks creeping into the boards during the drying process but there’s not much I can do about this. Even if I kept them under a tarp to reduce the amount of direct sun I’m sure the same thing would happen. I’ve been turning the boards on a regular basis and moving the pile from top to bottom to keep as even an evaporation process as possible. If the cracks get too large I may have to consider replacing them if I feel there may be a problem.

Following the set of instructions has proved to be reasonably easy although I have to double check the dimensions because of my variance to the plans. Some of the cuts will be made when I am closer to the assembly of the parts, just incase I have to change because of an unforeseen hiccup in my design and to minimize cracking at crucial points.

Well to cut to the chase, I did managed to cut all the chamfers on the corners to make each of those boards child safe and I found that the presoaked boards had plenty of preserve pressured into a depth of about half an inch. I’m not too concerned about the raw ends and at the end of the day it will be easy to seal them with a couple of coats of green preserve. Continue reading Bolt Holes and Preserving the Jungle Fort

Marking, Measuring and Cutting

Looking at the pile of lumber that takes up the rear driveway and a good part of the garage I wonder to myself where should I start and a little voice in my head says, “At the beginning of course!” Taking on a project of this magnitude can be overwhelming but so long as it’s done in stages it will be managable without too much cause to worry. The plans state that if you cannot follow the instructions then it’s best to hire a professional contractor to build it for you. This no doubt is very sound advice because you do have childrens safety to concern yourself with, be them your own or other peoples children. I’m one of those very cautious type individuals who will always over analyze and in this case over build to ensure that everything is correct, so I think in this case this sort of construction is ideal for me. It may take more than the suggested 20 hours to construct but does it really matter how much time it takes to build, safety is the number one priority.

The week after buying all the lumber much time was spent deciding on the final elements and I finally decided that I would forego building the ladder and opt for the gangplank ramp instead. This I felt would be a more fun item and with having the rock wall anyway, it already gave a climb-in entrance. Now with a clear course of action I was looking forward to the weekend to start the cutting of the sections. Continue reading Marking, Measuring and Cutting

Swing Set Components are Here!

The one thing about shopping online is, once paid for by your credit card you tend to forget about the item until it arrives, it’s not the instant gratification that you get when compared to shopping in the mall. So once I placed the order and downloaded the plans, received the conformation email I didn’t think anymore about it, afterall it was anywhere from 4 to 14 days for all the hardware to arrive. My main concern was to absorb the information provided and get some sort of cutting plan together. That order date was April 21st, a Saturday, I knew the order would not be processed until Monday when business started again.

I had already downloaded the plans and I was looking forward to the delivery of all the hardware. Just to show how quick the order went through the first package arrives on Friday 27th and the first box of goodies is the Monkey Bar dowels and Mega Top Tarp, no bolts. I was a little concerned at first, as I thought, this is an addition to the main swingset, the hardware should be with it so I immediately fired off an email asking if this was normal practice. I received an email back the following Monday, 30th April reassuring me, as I was ordering all the extras all the hardware would come together. It didn’t really matter as before I got to the email the package with all the hardware had already arrived together with the swings, trapeze, grab handles and the rest of the goodies. The only outstanding items was the slide itself and the rope ladder. Continue reading Swing Set Components are Here!

Swing Set Plans and Lumber

In my previous post I shared with you the thinking behind the madness in wanting to build the Jungle Gym for my children and all the components that I was going to purchase, anyway the deed is done and I have downloaded the build plans from Detailed Play Systems. This will suppliment the real booklet that will come with the delivery of the hardware, even so this is exactly the same as the booklet but printed off by me. A total of 94 pages in all, giving me a total overview of the scope of the work that I have decided to take on.

The plans actually cover the building of the Jungle Fort, Swingset, Monkey Bars, Sand Box, Ladder, Ramp, Rockwall and Tube Tunnel leaving the plans for the Picnic Table as a seperate item that will eventually come with the table tarp and hardware. Browsing quickly over the plans it is evident that it is well put together and providing that the instructions are followed there should be minimal problems. For me the first thing to do is tally up the amount of lumber that I need in total and buy it all at once so as not to get distracted as I go through the cutting list. Continue reading Swing Set Plans and Lumber

Swings, Slide, Rock Wall and Monkey Bars, Just to Name a Few

In my previous post I was quite excited about selecting the components for the swing set for the backyard and after down loading the catalog I sat down with the family to decide what we would go with. The first reaction was to go for the Jungle Fort Swing Set plus Tower but after marking out the space in the yard it proved to be so big that we just could not accommodate such a structure.

The one thing we did decide on is, we would have to have as a minimum a swing set that replaces the one that I was feeling a little uneasy about. So with that in mind the first part of the order was selecting the Jungle Fort Swing Set.

With the Jungle Fort Swing Set you get to choose the color of the roof tarp and with our son his favorite color is green and you’ve guessed it he wanted the tarp to be solid green, not green and yellow that we could have had, but solid green. The one good thing about having solid green is it shouldn’t stand out too much, it will blend in with the rest of the garden especially with the roof line being so high. Homeowner associations can be so finicky when it comes to garden structures even if it is for children. The next choice we had was with the two belt swings that come with the kit, that was an easy choice as well, green and blue, as Jack’s sister likes blue so that was easy as well. I was thinking to myself that we will need to have some of the other colors available, just to give the whole structure a little pizzazz so we’ll have to have red and yellow in the mix. Continue reading Swings, Slide, Rock Wall and Monkey Bars, Just to Name a Few

DIY Jungle Gym

I don’t know if it’s just my age but children these days seem to be ever increasingly active. In our back yard we have an outdoor swing set that was generously given to us by our neighbor, who’s children had grown too big for it. For me this was the perfect interim until I could get around to purchasing one of our own. I remember him saying that the frame would appear to lift slightly when the swings were in full flight. I did not pay too much attention to this because our kids are only little. To make sure I pounded in stakes, 12 inches into the ground and screwed them to the main frame to prevent this happening, anyway our Jack who’s only five is rocking this frame work to the extent that the bolts are creaking at every joint. Now this is not a major concern at this point but he’s a strong lad, hand over hand across the monkey bars and somersaults on the trapeze swing. It’s only a matter of time before this apparatus cracks under the strain.

Feeling a little under pressure to remedy the situation the hunt was on to find a suitable replacement but as you can imagine there are a lot of companies and products available. The full kits were OK but didn’t lend themselves to any kind of customization and I wanted to provide a long term replacement rather than something that was good for only a couple of years, another issue was the quality and size of the lumber used in the kits. I was looking for a product that was virtually indestructible with commercial quality but for the homeowner. Continue reading DIY Jungle Gym