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Small Cabin Forum / Cabin Construction / Advice sought about safety of my treehouse...
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# Posted: 21 Nov 2019 06:40

Hi All, sorry for not using all the correct carpentry nomenclature -- I'm an amateur, and that's putting it mildly...

I have a tall palm tree in the backyard, about a foot and a half in diameter, nice and strong. I nailed two 2x6 boards (about half a yard long) to the trunk (one on each side, i.e. parallel to each other, with five six inch nails) at about a yard and a half high, screwed two-yard long beams on top of them (and into the tree as well), set up about seven 2X2 poles in the ground, and placed a yard-and-a-half long X a yard wide sandwich board on top of all that. I took my WWF looking, 250 lb neighbor and put him on it, and then climbed on myself. It felt super-sturdy, so I built another floor in exactly the same way, using tree and first floor for support. Again it held with me and the neighbor on it. I put up walls around the first floor and a fence around the top floor (which is a good three or more yards off the ground).

My question: does this sound safe to you guys? It FEELS super-sturdy, but do you think I can send four or five kids up there and not worry about collapse? If you prefer not to weigh in on that -- which I fully understand -- then can you give me some tips on how to know if a structure (a floor) has enough support?



# Posted: 21 Nov 2019 06:43

This is not a tree fort forum. Im sure there is one for that.

# Posted: 21 Nov 2019 09:55

Hello WB . Welcome. We all have our own version of what our cabin is. Feel free to ask any questions you like. There are no forum cops here.
Sounds like you had a lot of weight up there. If you do allow kids I would suggest you keep an eye on it. Kids will be jumping around playing which could loosen the structure up from the tree.
There are no stupid questions. Have fun hanging out with your kids. Especially building forts. You will all probably learn a few things and maybe even get your kids interested in building more things. We all started somewhere.

# Posted: 21 Nov 2019 10:31


# Posted: 21 Nov 2019 11:18

In general putting a bunch of nails into a tree is not a good or secure method. The tree is living, moving and "wet" - risking the nails slowly getting looser and looser. Not saying it will fall down tomorrow but it may fail or start to fail in a couple of years. There are specific Treehouse Attachment Bolts that will do little damage to the tree and be secure. Couple of links Treetopbuilders and Treehousesupplies .
The first link has a good description of what not to do!

All this depends on how long you really want the treehouse to last and your level of risk assessment.

# Posted: 22 Nov 2019 12:49 - Edited by: jhp

I think a diagram would help. The way I read it, if you're standing on the lower deck, hugging the tree in the middle, then nearly 100% of your body weight is on the (ten?) "six inch nails" driven into the tree trunk from either side.

I don't know what kinds of nails you used but the shear strength of them is probably a couple hundred pounds, maximum per nail. That's if they don't pull out of the trunk on their own first.

Those really should be either large lag screws coming in from either end or preferrably lag bolts that go all the way through the trunk.

That hardware would have shear strength measured in thousands (or tens of thousands) of pounds.

After that, using 2x2's as poles instead of a proper timber like a 4x4 (minimum) sounds pretty sketchy as well.

I think your layout is the right idea but you need better hardware and structural support to be safe.

Short of buying specialty hardware that is meant for treehouses, I would be trying to replicate something like this foundation:

Sprinkler Guy
# Posted: 22 Nov 2019 19:41 - Edited by: Sprinkler Guy

One of my clients had this tree house built for his kids. The carpenters had a couple of steel brackets made that had a 1” rod drilled through the tree that everything was built off of. It is able to pivot on the rod as the tree sways and has been there for 6-8 years with no sign of failure.

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