Hey there! Check out my latest off-season project — a sort of double-decker birdwatching platform/playfort thingee, tucked in the far corner of my backyard. According to the various building plans I have consulted, a project like this should be do-able in a weekend! Ha-ha! (They should list alternate time estimates for the out-of-shape and/or clueless). This is where I am so far, after about 10 hours worth of work (with one 6-yr-old helper):
Sure, it doesn’t look like much NOW, but imagine it with both upper and lower decks completed, ladder leading up to trapdoor in the second level, painted in colorful yet tasteful hues, perhaps lightly festooned with an assortment of kid-friendly accoutrements like pulleys and periscopes. I designed this structure by consulting various building websites, flipping through carpentry books at the library, and squinting really hard at images of playforts online.
As a person who, two weeks ago, had zero carpentry experience, I have gained a new appreciation for people who can build things well. Just laying out a 6 x 6 square (on a slight slope, mind you) was an exercise in frustration. I got lucky digging the post holes, because I did it after a warm, wet spell (those puppies are like, 30″ deep). But then trying to “level” and “square” just those four outer boards (deck builders would call them rim-joists, in case you’re wondering) took hours.
Then, there was my doe-eyed excursion into the Lowe’s lumber aisles to seek out the proper boards. “Can I help you ma’am?” asked a guy in a blue Lowe’s apron, who must have noticed me looking terrified.
“Um, yes please, I need some nice boards. What do you recommend?”
He was very nice, and helped me load four gigantic 4 x 4 posts into my cart. (This is how lumber is sold, by the way, in short, average, and gigantic lengths.)
So the posts went in, and then it was time to pull out my husband’s scary cirucular saw from the basement. After watching a Youtube video called How to Use a Circular Saw, and getting a little tutorial/warning from my husband (“don’t cut your fingers off!”) I started cutting the boards. I told my son to stand at the edge of the patio while I used the saw, and with the adorable confidence of a little boy in his mother, he ran clear across to the other side of the yard.
It’s still in the early stages of this project, but so far cutting the boards has been the easiest part. Much easier than leveling and squaring things. But then again, I am a proud alumna of TEI (The Eyeball It) Academy, so that only stands to reason.
I will try to post more pictures as I move through the building process. If no pictures are forthcoming, it is probably safe to assume that the project went awry and I converted the structure into four huge, oddly-spaced birdhouses.