»  Treehouse — Phase 3


The objective of Phase 3 is to get the treehouse walls in place.

North wall from NW With Phase 2 complete, the supports are in place and a floor has been built. We must now add walls.

Here is the first wall, the north wall, in place, seen from the northwest.

Note this is a partial wall, only coming up to a height of about 40 inches — that is, to the height of a small boy's chin. Above that the wall is open. The other walls, however, overlook neighbors' gardens, so those walls will be blank, to preserve our neighbors' privacy.
Another view of the north wall, this one from the northeast.

Note the horizontal beam that will support the roof. This wall is 7 feet high. The south wall will be only 5½ feet high, to give a slanting roof.

The tree house, though it now gets daily more magnificent, is also getting daily less visible, as the tree puts out more leaves. It is very pleasant to work up there among the leaves.

Note the Derbs' spiffy new fence — this year's budget-buster. Note also the deplorable state of our garage. That's next year's …
North wall from NE
NE corner detail Still showing off the north wall, here is the northeast corner from inside. Note that once again I had to make a template to cut out a hole for the branch coming through this wall.

People tell me I am not leaving enough space around these shaped holes for the tree to grow outwards. I think they are right, and shall do something about it … when the darn thing's finished.
Yet another detail of the north wall, this time the northwest corner, as seen from inside.

Getting this north wall in place was very arduous, involving careful calculations about how much of it to pre-assemble before hauling it up. There was a lot of rope work. It's amazing what you can do with a couple of ropes. Up there among the leaves, there's always a handy branch to use as a pulley. Here I had a 40-inch by 87-inch sheet of ½-inch ply — weight around 40 lb* — hanging in place by ropes while I nailed it into correct position. The Ashley Book of Knots is an essential accessory here.

(Some readers have asked me about the knots I am using with all this ropework. Well, for hauling up lengths of 2×4, I use simple timber hitches, Ashley's knot number 1665. With the big plywood panels, timber hitches are unreliable, so I have resorted to the good old bowline, Ashley's #1010. This only works with hemp rope, though; the bowline "capsizes" rather easily with plastic rope, I have found. All the ropes I am using here are hemp rope. Ashley doesn't mention this, simply because plastic rope wasn't around when he was writing, in the early 1940s. He does, however, warn that the bowline, or any other common knot, can be "capsized" if used inappropriately or over-stressed. There is no perfectly foolproof knot.

More to my surprise, Ashley does not give the mnemonic I learned for the bowline when I was a lad, which I thought was universal, and which I still mutter to myself when tying this knot: "Make a pond with a tree by it. A frog jumps out of the pond, hops round the tree, then dives back into the pond."

The timber hitch, by the way, has a special resonance for me: see here.)

* ½-inch ply weighs about 1½ lb per square foot.
NW corner detail
North and south walls from NW The north and south walls both in place, seen from the northwest.
Here is a view of the south wall from inside the tree house. Note that I put a window in it after all. There is both an public and a private reason for this.
  • Public — It's the south wall; let's get some light in here.
  • Private — Couldn't be bothered to do the template business to make holes for those branches.
South wall from inside
South wall from outside The south wall, seen from below.
The west wall is being hoist into position with rope work. Here you can see some of the construction techniques I'm using. Just below left center of the picture you can make out a G clamp. This holds a chock — just a short piece of spare 2×4. There is another similar chock off the picture to the right. When hoist up, the wall panel will sit on these chocks while I nail it in place. West wall coming up, from east
West wall coming up, looking north Another picture of the west wall coming up into position. Here you see the other chock, also held in place by a G clamp.

A small boy can make himself useful here. You have him kneeling on the edge holding a long stick, with instructions to push away the wall panel as it rises, so that it comes up over the gudgeon of the G clamp. The ray gun (lower right of picture) is an optional accessory.
The east wall, seen from inside. Note that both the east and west walls will later be built up some more — in the case of the west wall, filled in completely. Since the structure is already infested with small boys, the main thing at the moment is to get some half-walls up for safety, so the boys don't fall off. East wall from inside
East wall from outside The east wall, seen from below. Note the infestation.

End of Phase 3.

Continue to Phase 4.