Backyard Playset

  • Advertise with us
Project by BethMartin posted 02-25-2009 08:23 AM 9698 views 9 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m new here, and I thought I’d show off a couple of projects, so I don’t look like a total noob with all the stupid questions that I will probably ask about an upcoming built-ins project. :)

I built this playset for my kids in 2006 from scratch. This is probably one of the most satisfying things I’ve made. (And the biggest). I lurked in the fancy playset stores and saw how they put them together and then made my own version. My husband helped with the heavy lifting, but most of the fabrication was my doing, which I accomplished in between taking care of the kids on sunny days.

Not sure if link are allowed, but there are more pics on a thread I have at craftster:

I made the playhouse part of it an homage to our first house which was painted this color. The swings and ladder hardware and accessories were from The slide and swing arm braces were from one of the big hardware stores. The lumber is from Dunn lumber – a local lumber store here. I HIGHLY recommend getting your lumber from your local lumber yard rather than Home Depot, Lowe’s etc. The lumber yard will be cheaper, delivery will likely be free (or cheap), and you just drive through and they load up your car. It’s awesome.

Power tools I used: Drill, circular saw, power sander, jig saw, miter saw.

In addition to lumber you need: about 100 3/8×3” galvanized lag bolts + washers, 5-6 lbs of decking screws (2” I think), various strongtie braces.

I put a shingled roof on, but if I had to do it over, I would just make a simple roof using cedar siding.

The area was first cleared and leveled, then we put down a layer of weedblocker fabric. Built the structure, and then made an enclosure for the woodchips out of 2×8 treated lumber. I think there’s something like 6-8 sq yards of wood play chips in there.

I labeled a bunch of pictures with the dimensions of the lumber that was used (see my thread on craftster for more). Some of the lengths might be approximate. But basically, the structure is based on the 4 4×4x10’ support posts. The deck is 5’ off the ground. The 2×6x5’ horizontal supports do most of the work holding it all together.

It is all held together with 3/8×3” galvanized lag bolts. I would first make a recess for the bolt head +washer with a 1” forstner bit on the drill, then pre-drill a hole for the lag bolt. There was a lot of cranking bolts on in this project!

I’d be happy to answer any questions – it was a few years ago, so hopefully I can remember enough to answer them! :)

-- Beth

18 comments so far

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 3407 days

#1 posted 02-25-2009 11:54 AM

That is just fantastic. It looks totally pro! Did it come out cheaper than buying one? I know I have a tendency to think I’ll make something cheaper, then I go way over somehow :)

Also, how did you put the roof and shingles on? Were you hanging from a crane? Excellent work!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Todd Thomas 's profile

Todd Thomas

4969 posts in 3474 days

#2 posted 02-25-2009 12:00 PM

looks good…I bet the kids love it…reminds me that I should build one of these for my grand kids…..good job

-- Todd, Oak Ridge, TN, Hello my name is Todd and I'm a Toolholic, I bought my last tool 10 days, no 4 days, oh heck I bought a tool on the way here! †

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4186 days

#3 posted 02-25-2009 01:47 PM

oh so much fun!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4244 days

#4 posted 02-25-2009 04:12 PM

Nice construction skills…. and it looks like the customers are satisfied!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3430 days

#5 posted 02-25-2009 04:54 PM

Great job. My girls would love something like that.

-- Alan, Prince George

View BethMartin's profile


111 posts in 3403 days

#6 posted 02-25-2009 05:40 PM

Thanks, everyone!

Gary, to answer your questions…
Yes, it is cheaper than buying one, but it still wasn’t all that cheap. I think everything, including the playchips and surround, it ran about $2000. BUT, if you were to price the ones at the fancy playset stores, a comparable set would set you back around $4000, not including the leveling prep and the surround. The key is making it big enough that the kids use it for a long time. Then it’s worth it. Also, it is made in a modular fashion – each side panel comes off in one piece. So I figure I’ll be able to sell it when the kids are done with it if I want to.

The roof looks great, but I really wouldn’t make one that fancy again. I’m not sure how I’d remove it when the time comes without using a crane or taking it apart completely! First I made the A-frames on the ground with the sun pattern on them. Obviously I had help putting those up, but it wasn’t too bad because the bottom horizontal rung of the A-frame rests on top of the main vertical supports. Then just mark my holes while it’s up there so I know where they go. Once the A-frames were up, I used some old 2×6 decking recycled from my father-in-law. (It’s unpainted in the first picture, but it’s painted now). Then the roofing paper and shingles. It wasn’t too bad to reach with a ladder. But I really should’ve just used some overlapping cedar siding for the whole roof. Would have been much easier!

I didn’t mention in my description, but I used deck stain for all the plain cedar parts, and tinted Benjamin Moore exterior woodstain for the purple. The color has held up amazing well so far – it still looks brand-new after almost 3 years so far. Whereas right now the cedar needs another coat of deck stain.

-- Beth

View Tom Goodman's profile

Tom Goodman

198 posts in 4158 days

#7 posted 02-25-2009 07:13 PM

First.. Welcome to Lumberjocks! and WOW ! You did a fantastic job. I love it.

-- - " If you want square work, You don't cut corners. " - -- Tom Goodman, Santa Maria, CA.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4325 days

#8 posted 02-25-2009 07:31 PM

There’s some happy looking kids. Great job!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 3407 days

#9 posted 02-26-2009 05:57 AM

Thanks for the extra info, Beth! Looks like you did manage to save money, but even if it were double the price of just buying one, the coolness factor of your kids always being able to show friends the pics and say “My mom made this for us” makes it worth it. This has a lot of love in it.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3507 days

#10 posted 02-26-2009 07:33 PM

This is really cool. Hope the kids get some great use out of it.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4016 days

#11 posted 02-28-2009 10:26 AM

You know, I’ve seen hundreds of wooden playsets but I think this is the first one I’ve seen in color! Looks great! I love it!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View a1Jim's profile


117119 posts in 3603 days

#12 posted 03-27-2009 05:56 PM

Welcome to JLs As a 20 year contractor I think your play set was built as well as I would build one. I’m also a beginning woodworking teacher for an adult class through our local community collage and now have about 70 percent woman students. Many are retired so I’m so pleased to see a busy mother and wife able to take the time to do woodworking. I love that photo of your whole smiling family on your play set how gratifying that must be.


-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Safetyboy's profile


119 posts in 3785 days

#13 posted 03-27-2009 08:56 PM

You rock! My kids would love that! Would you come build one at my house and watch my kids while you’re at it?

Holy cow – we can barely manage to keep our kids out of trouble, much less building a great playset at the same time. You have my admiration.

-- -- Kevin in Mentor, Ohio

View BethMartin's profile


111 posts in 3403 days

#14 posted 03-29-2009 03:57 AM

Thank you all for the nice comments! It makes me smile to read them! :)

-- Beth

View robbi's profile


176 posts in 3981 days

#15 posted 04-04-2009 06:54 PM

Welcome to LJ’’s always nice to see another woman on here. I built a few things for my kids when they were little, but nothing this impressive. Gives me an idea for my grandkids though. I want them to LOVE coming to grandma’s house. They live far away so having something fun like this when they visit would be wonderful…the wheels are turning….thanks for sharing. Hope you don’t mind but I’m adding you to my “buddy” list.

-- Robin, California

showing 1 through 15 of 18 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics