DIY Playset project
Goal: Build a playset for my son.
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Have you ever shopped for a kids playset before? Well, now that my son is three, I decided to see how much these things cost.
Yes, I had sticker shock when I started looking around. Even the options online were not much cheaper.
There is no way I was going to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for one. The way I figured it, I could make one of these for a lot less money and maybe even better quality than a store bought playset. And besides it gives me something to build. I like building things, did I mention that?
I found a PlayStar Scoop Slide for free through Craig’s List. It did take me 45 minutes round trip driving, but no money out-of-pocket was key. There is that frugal in me kicking in. The slide is a little faded, but in one solid piece, no cracks.
Amazon had these listed for $104 at the time I checked (February 2017). Funny, the Amazon description says it will not crack, break or fade. Well the first two are accurate, but the fading? Well, I’m fine with a faded slide for no money out-of-pocket.
Finding the free slide started things off. Once I knew the parts could be found for next to nothing, it was just a matter of time before I had all the pieces I needed to build our own playset.
I started this project in the fall of 2016, I’m just getting around to writing up how I went about planning and building it. (Spring 2017) This is the first article in a series I’ll be publishing.
My initial plan was to source the rest of the hardware for this project from playsets I’ve seen being given away online, Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace etc.
However, once my parents heard about this project they generously purchased the following items. The key for me was little to no money out of my own pocket. Thanks Grandma & Grandpa!!
- Eastern Jungle Gym Swing Set Accessory Bundle for Kids with Toy Telescope from Amazon.
- Eastern Jungle Gym Heavy-Duty Hight Back Full Bucket Toddler Swing Set Seat with Coated Swing Chains & 2 Snap Hooks Fully Assembled Play Set in Green from Amazon.
- Jungle Gym Kingdom 2 Heavy Duty Swing Hangers for Wooden Playground Porch from Amazon.
Playset building plans
I found this free DIY playset plan online, which I used as a guide for the design of this playset. The plan mentions the cost of all the lumber at over $600. The lumber cost for this project, drum roll please? Zero!
There are several local business in my area that consistently discard pallets. My first thought was to approach them and ask if I could have them.
However, my current employer also discards pallets and I ended up taking some home. These are not your ordinary square pallets.
Some of them have boards over eight feet in length. Here is a picture of a few pallets I’m able to acquire.
“One mans trash is another mans treasure”
Now the hard part. Taking the pallets apart was a lot of work. After working with a few, I had a good system/method of doing this. The physical work is a nice refresher after sitting at a desk all day and all week.
I spent time looking at playsets on display at my local home improvement store. Once I realized the boards I could get from the pallets was better than the pre-built sets, I felt more confident in building my own kids playset.
But here’s the thing, it took several more pallets than I imagined. Since I had to take the pallets apart, it didn’t always go as planned.
When you start prying them apart, some boards just broke. Others had nails stuck in them or they were curved or had large knots in them and couldn’t be used.
For every one pallet I took apart, I used maybe half or a little more than half of the wood. I wound up bringing home more pallets than I originally thought I’d need. But for free lumber I didn’t mind.
As you can see here, I’ve taken a bunch apart and temporarily stacked them next to the garage. The lumber sizes vary, I was able to recovery anything from: 2 x 4’s, 4 x 4’s, 1 x 6’s, 2 x 3’s, 3 x 4’s even very thin 1/2 x 7 which I’ll use to shingle the roof.
Once again, this was all free lumber, zero! nothing out-of-pocket except a little hard work and elbow grease as they say.
On the plus side, I don’t mind having the extra wood. I can use it for the frequent campfires I have. This is yet another one of my past-times.
Playset materials list
- FREE, Do-It-Yourself playset building plans from Hot 4 Cad. Used as a guide only.
- PlayStar scoop slide, FREE through Craig’s list.
- Lumber, FREE re-claimed pallets from local businesses. Various sizes
- Eastern jungle gym swing set accessory bundle. Grandma & Grandpa purchased from Amazon.
- Toddler swing green full bucket. Grandma & Grandpa purchased from Amazon.
- Jungle gym kingdom 2 heavy-duty swing hangers. Grandma & Grandpa purchased from Amazon.
- Green tarp, had this new and wasn’t using it for anything.
- $3.12 (2) joist hanger 2 x 4 @ $1.56 each, these were used to hold the 2 x 4’s when framing the floor.
- $4.96 (8 ft) 2 x 4’s @ 2.48 each, used for the tower floor. Ok so I guess I did buy some lumber. I didn’t know i was going to need it until I started.
- $7.97 construction screws 3 1/4 T-Star from Menards
- $7.97 construction screws 1 1/4 T-Star from Menards.
- $30.00 environmentally friendly lime clean from EarthPaint.
- $74.70 (1) gallon of Rainforest Sealer stain purchased from EarthPaint.
- $5.83 (1) Cinnamon Stick color add-on from EarthPaint.
- $22.00 shipping for the stain, color additive and lime clean.
At this point I have somewhere in the neighborhood of $156.00. Not bad considering how much these cost new.
The plan now is to gather enough wood to build a solid roof rather than using a tarp. I’d also like to raise the swing and add a climbing wall.
Another thought occurred to me that I might also want to add a floor to the bottom of the tower rather than keeping it open. Just my thoughts for now.
Have you built your own playset? What was your experience?
Please comment and share below.
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