Friday, May 17, 2013

climbing structure for a climbing climber

I said my last post ended in a cliff-hanger; well, I guess this is more of a climbing wall than a cliff, but I'm going to pretend it counts.

My kid is an enigma. Climbing thrills him. And I mean climbing anything, from stacks of unstable patio chairs to the furniture I pulled out of the shed to donate, to crawling into the hammock or up a set of stairs or on top of the sail / awning on the top of his pirate sandbox. But slides: slides make him nervous most of the time. He'd rather clamber over a pile of something certain to shift than slide down a nice, safe playground slide any longer than 3 or 4 feet.

As a deterrent to climbing stacks of unsafe stuff, we decided to build him a climbing structure, something on the small side (so if the daredevil launches himself off the side, odds are he'll escape without serious injury) with steps of varying sizes and some climbing rocks. Also on our wish list was something we could fold up and store during the winter months. (There are enough tarps in our backyard at that time of year already, thanks.)

I found a similar structure on Pinterest before starting this project (and we used it to guide our design), but I apparently didn't actually pin it, and now I can't find it. If this was originally your idea, please send me a link!

As far as building one  goes, it's pretty straightforward. I will say, though, that we aren't professional builders of children's play equipment, and it's possible that something we've done here isn't up to current safety standards. We plan to be in the yard with him every time he's playing on it, so we're not too worried. Stay tuned for the end of this post, where I'll talk a little about things I have planned or might change later, FYI.

We bought cedar for this project rather than pressure-treated wood, to limit exposure to toxins.

We used: 
  • six 8-foot 2x4s (cut to eleven 4-foot lengths and two 2-foot lengths)
  • a 3x4-foot scrap of plywood
  • a used set of three door hinges
  • exterior paint
  • a 4-pack of climbing rocks
  • exterior screws in 3-inch and 2-inch lengths
As you can see in the photos, we have three vertical supports on each slope. On side 1 (the "ladder" side), we also have three full-length horizontal supports (4-feet long) and two 2-foot ladder supports. We left about a foot of space at the bottom, because the kiddo doesn't need a step there.

On side 2 (the "climbing rock" side), we have only one horizontal support at the top, and the painted plywood provides the rest of the support when attached directly below.

We made sure that the vertical supports on each side line up, so that we were able to attach it at the top with hinges.

Though probably not necessary in the grass, we used the leftover 4-foot 2x4 as a support to keep the structure solidly supported at the desired angle. You can see that support, and a hinge, in this next photo.

We still need to get the sander out to knock down some roughness and edges, and I think a top piece of some sort is going to be necessary for the gap at the top (the kiddo thinks it's funny to stick his leg in there. I do not), so that'll be happening soon. And maybe some stain for the cedar?

I'm also aware of the possibility that the 4.5-inch space between the ladder steps on side 1 might be too narrow, so it might get altered if we notice any issues with it. I'll do a future post with updates soon to let you see the FINAL final product.

We've also got our eye on one of those tire climbers, but we'll have to see if it fits into our plans. It looks really cool though, right?

So: what kind of crazy outdoor projects are you planning or working on? Here in the northwest, we've been spoiled with a ton of sunshine the past couple of weeks, so projects like this climbing structure and the arbor have been possible and necessary. Have you been having an early summer where you are, too?

Thanks for reading!

p.s. to make these photos larger, just click!

Linking up to:


Allison May said...


Unknown said...

I know you wrote this a while ago, but I just found it on Pinterest and I made my own version! I wanted to thank you for writing this because it is awesome and exactly what I was trying to picture in my head and just couldn't lol