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Project: Building Alex's Play Structure

Last Updated: 12/30/06


Alex is a veritable monkey, so I felt a good outlet for his climbing penchant would be to buy him a jungle gym.  I bought the structure from a company called Cedarworks Playsets.  I chose them because out of all the wood playsets I investigated, this was the only one that appeared to be truly maintenance-free.  I can choose to paint/stain/seal the wood, but I don't have to!  This has MUCH appeal to me.  :)  It will go grey but I can deal with that.


Here we have the 12 big pieces of wood which will become the uprights of the structure.  I've decided to build the jungle gym on the lowest level of my three-tier backyard.  I figured it's the safest, since a falling child will only fall off the jungle gym, not the jungle gym plus a retaining wall.  And yes, there are huge brown patches in my lawn.  I had a terrible quackgrass problem so I decided to take Roundup to all the quackgrass.  It looks horrible now but it will be much nicer next year.

Here I've built the first of three sections.  This is lying on its side (so the wood parts will be vertical, not the blue parts).  There was a LOT of nailing involved in this project.  It was very tiring.

Here is the second section.  This one is relatively short.

And here is the third section.

So what we essentially have at this point are three two-dimensional structures.  Next we're going to take this baby into the third dimension!  For this step I took the smaller of the three sections (the second section) and lifted it up as you can see in the following photo, placing it on top of the perpendicular blue bars.

After adding more of the perpendicular blue bars, I asked my neighbour AJ to help me lift the third section up onto the top.

After a whole bunch more nailing, I pushed that puppy upright and here is the basic structure!

The next couple of steps were to add the yardarm and canvas roof as shown in the next photo.  This involved pruning the neighbour's tree a bit (as you can see in the last photo, the tree is interfering with the upper corners of the structure).  A rope ladder will hang from the near side of the yardarm and a fireman's pole will be attached to the far side.

The next thing I did was dig holes in the ground to level the structure.  There was about a week in-between the last photo and the next one, and that whole week it bothered me that the structure was not level.  The ground isn't level.  So I dug holes on the high side.  Then I put some small river stones around the bases of the uprights that were buried.  The next step was to add the stabilizing bars (the big horizontal pieces at the bottom in the photo below).  Since I had buried one side of the structure I had to drill some new holes to install the near side stabilizer bar.  That was very annoying but I managed.  The next step was to add the horizontal platforms you see in this photo.  The platforms aren't quite complete in this photo because there are gaps between adjacent platforms on the same level.  When they're finished the gaps get filled with separate pieces of wood.

After completion of the platforms, the next step was to add "fort fences" - these are fence-like structures that are used to close off some of the openings on the top platform level.  Then the lower yardarms were added.  The yardarm on the left is for a trapeze swing and the yardarm on the right will have a climbing rope.

And here is the jungle gym, essentially done!  The only thing that remains is to attach the slide properly.  But this is pretty much how it looks.  Alex really likes it and it occurs to me as I'm writing this that I have no photos of him enjoying it!  I will have to remedy that.  :)


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