Saturday, November 29, 2014

Building a Playground without Spending a Fortune (Part 1)

Although this blog will mostly be focused on home automation, I want to cover some of my other projects and experiences over the last year or two. One memorable project that I finally wrapped up was building a playground for my kids. After deciding where the playground was going to go, I had to remove a tree that was extremely unhealthy. I paid to have it downed by a professional ($$$) and then chained the rest myself to be burned in the fireplace and firepit.

After renting and running a stump grinder, I prepped the area and did measurements so I could work around the healthy trees that provide great shade for our yard.

Once I gathered requirements for the project from "the boss", I started researching kits. Since the sandbox was supposed to be at least 6'x6', that made most playground kits too small. Overall, I found most kits to be extremely expensive and constructed from weak materials. Other requirements included a fort, slide, rock climbing wall and 2 swings. I decided to design and build my own, which worked out well in the end.

While I was planning the build, I created an Amazon wishlist that we shared to family and friends with all the accessories required for the project. As the kid's birthdays and other holidays passed, we collected most of the accessories that were needed! Definitely a great idea for bigger projects, but you will have to send pictures in the thank you cards. Not a bad trade-off at all.

The yard slopes significantly away from the house, so I elected to use concrete pads to level everything. I decided to use 4x4s for the support beams. I dug 4 holes 2 ft  deep and poured concrete in the holes to provide a solid base. Next I put a post base in each hole with screws before the concrete dried.

I used #2 type pressure treated lumber from Home Depot because it was convenient to source and as a Veteran, I occasionally get a discount. I used 4x4s, 2x4s, 2x6s, 1x6s, standard decking and a 4x6 for the swings. The total cost of lumber was $278 and I ended up using the excess on other projects. Most of the boards were of good quality, but I did return a few for replacements.

Besides the lumber, almost everything else was sourced from Amazon. Most of the cuts we 90 degree and were handled by my 10 inch sliding miter saw. I did rip a decking board or two with my Ryobi Table Saw and both saws have newish Diablo blades  . I also used my Black & Decker 20-Volt MAX Drill kit pretty heavily for a lot. It was a great Christmas gift and so far has stood up to some serious abuse.

Since I did this project by myself, it was certainly a challenge to level and balance each 4x4. I worked one at a time and used scrap 2x4s and Irwin clamps the build little braces to hold them. Once they were drilled into the base, they were surprisingly easy to work with. I used 2x6 boards to create the fascia and sandbox as pictured. I measured each run before cutting the boards to compensate for imperfections in the lumber and imprecision on my part.

I will cover the fastener hardware in the next post. Please feel free to ask me questions about any of my projects!


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