Kids play structure complete!

by The Darwinian Doctor

Last year, when I was clearing out the garage in anticipation of the creation of the accessory dwelling unit, I noticed we had a lot of old lumber that was just begging to be repurposed into a play structure.

First, there were two gorgeous 8×8” pieces of redwood beams that were probably used as tire stops for cars. Aside from a little bit of termite damage on one end, they were remarkably well preserved.

There were also a bunch of thick wooden slats used to cover an old mechanic’s pit in the garage floor.  While a bit oily from years of oil changes, there was some good wood under that grime!

Not much to look at yet.

Rather than throw out all this great wood, I started to think about how we could turn it into a play structure.  

Why a play structure?

For a while, I’ve wanted to add a play structure to our backyard for my boys to play on.  I have fond memories from my own childhood of playing in ramshackle tree houses and forts, and I hoped to create this for my kids too.

I’ve previously learned that I can make wooden structures like flower boxes and sandboxes that are much higher quality than store bought versions, at a fraction of the cost.

Do you really want to spend $1600 on a play structure from Amazon?

So after looking online at various designs, I spent some time making some sketches.  

I crunched some numbers and then took a trip to Lowe’s hardware to get some more wood.  

Hatchbacks are so useful!

My dad and I cleaned the grime off the old wood, cut the 8×8 into four equal lengths, and then assembled the base of the play structure.

Once the base was steady and reinforced, we cut a whole bunch more redwood, put up some railings and assembled the staircase.  Lots of wood screws and nail gun action here.

We were left finally with a nice platform with railing and stairs.

I thought that we were done with the project, but sadly, my boys didn’t like playing on it! 

When I asked my 5 year old why, he thought for just a moment before replying:

You know, you really should have put a roof on it!

My ungrateful child

I tasked my dad with the project, and he excitedly agreed.

The final form takes shape!

A couple of months later, I took the Dr-ess and the boys on a weeklong trip up to the Santa Cruz area. When we got back to Los Angeles, this was what greeted us!

Now it’s done.

My two boys yelped in joy, and immediately climbed into their new play house to jump around.


So what lessons did I learn?  

  • Kids love play structures with roofs.
  • Recycling old stuff into new stuff is really fun.
  • It’s really great having a dad who loves to build stuff like me.

Nothing too profound here.  I just wanted to highlight a cool project with a great ending.

Have a great week!


What projects have you tackled in the last year? Comment below! Please share and subscribe.

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4 years ago

Looking good!

4 years ago

So cool. Nice job, Dr. Dad.

4 years ago

That is awesome. I am nowhere near as handy as you are but I take great pride in the stuff I build. And often it turns out better quality than store bought.

It’s a win win with frugality and quality

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