Friday, July 30, 2010

Playset Plans

Hey, DanielPDansters. Sorry it’s been a while since my last article, but I have just been overloaded this summer with other projects, one of which I’m going to share with you here. As some of you know I have two great kids, and they are getting to the age where they don’t need constant supervision. Now I can turn them loose in the backyard without worrying that they are going to fall into the open tar pit or tease the plague-infested prairie dogs back there. Plus, they are at an age where they actually want to play together instead of the older one just rolling the younger one down two flights of splinter ridden deck stairs repeatedly.

So one day this spring She Who Must Be Obeyed mentioned, “They play so well together. We should buy them a swingset.” Now, as I’m sure most other men would agree, what I heard was: “Build my babies the best playset in Creation, or your daughter will hate you for the rest of your life and end up with a tattoo that says ‘HECTOR’ on her throat, and your son will become a Republican. You lazy bastard!” Right? Just me again?!? Ah…well anyway, I was initially against the idea for several reasons. First, we live three blocks from a park. Admittedly sending a two year old to the park alone is a dicey proposition fraught with peril. I’ve learned my lesson on that one the hard way with a little persuasion from a rolling pin and SWMBO. Second, the whole playground-in-the-backyard thing smacks of keeping up with the Joneses, and as you might have guessed by now I hate those fuckers. The Joneses are arseholes. Plus, I am cheap. Some of the huge wooden playsets that you see crammed into backyards throughout the suburbs nationwide sell for over $3500. Hrmm…should we build a swingset for the kids or pay for their college tuition? However, after mulling it over for a couple of days I began to realize that it’s probably not that bad of an idea. It might even make the backyard actually useful. Right now the only time I go back there is to dump used oil and bury bodies, so making the kids a structure to run around and fall off of seemed like a decent way to put the space to good use.

Since the new units were astronomically overpriced, I began the journey where I often do – on the interweb looking for freebies. I poked around for a while trying to dig up some free plans so I could make the playset myself. However, I soon realized that even with the plans that I did find I would be spending a mint on the hardware and lumber anyway. So naturally I started to mine Craigslist to see what was out there. After about a month of scouring the list I found something that wasn’t too dangerously rickety, four states away, hugely overpriced or old enough to be made from the deck boards of the Santa Maria. So I snatched it up and transplanted into our backyard with some modifications and additions, and, being the nerd that I am, I of course made a complete CAD model of the playset. Take a look at the pics below. Assembling and staining the set took probably a day. If you are starting from scratch you’d be looking at a solid weekend. The drawings took substantially less time than that. And after all of my hard work I brought the kids out back to see their new playset. What do you think my son’s first comment was? “Wow, Dad. That’s AWESOME!! Can we go to the park?” Great…

I’m posting the images so that anyone who was in the same boat that I was in will have a resource for free plans to a pretty simple, inexpensive, and customizable playset for their little chitlins. There is a complete cut list for the lumber needed, and some basic dimensions for the critical components. The construction process is about as basic as one can get with exterior construction. You can use the same wood, brackets and hardware as though you were building a deck. The 4 x 4 posts do not need to be sunk into the ground, but the whole structure should be anchored to the ground in some way just for a little added safety. You never know what the little maniacs are going to do on this thing. If anyone is interested, or if I missed some needed dimensions please leave a comment, and I can try to get you more info or even the entire CAD file if you’re so inclined. Just let me know.