Sky Fort Day 10: Swings and Crows Nest.

We got a lot accomplished in a relatively short amount of time today.  The end is in sight!

First we tackled attaching the swingset beam to the suppot assembly.  This was enough with huge 8″ hex bolts and metal braces.   In a few minutes, we were ready to flip it over and fit it to the side of the fort.

Once in place, I marked the ground, because of course its on part of the hill, while Sara connected the whole thing to the fort via another 8″ bolt.  Then I got to diggin’ another trench. It didn’t take long to get us a couple inches down amd level the swingset.   The hard part was the anchors.   We used the last of the supplied anchors on this, 8″ from the edge, on the inside of the support assembly.   We’re still trying to figure out how to attach the BORG anchors I bought to the monkeybar assembly…

It was not easy.

Lots of rocks and the base of the assembly in the way made for some sweaty work, but with Sara moving the base out of the way a little, I got the anchors in.  It was not easy to line everyrhing up because the base is angled towards the fort, so you have to put the anchor in at an angle.  I only had to pull up and move one anchor before we got it, so not too bad I guess.

As big as it was, this beam was one of the easier pieces to work with in the whole set. The slot it fit into was cut perfectly.

Once the swing was anchored, we moved on to the crows nest.  The frame for the base we built in the garage earlier in the week, so that was easy: just fit in place on top of the swing beam and bolt to side of the fort.  Or…not so easy.

The base is resting on top of the swing arm in this picture.

As you can see in the picture below, there are predilled holes in the side of the fort.  Should be a no brainer, right? Wrong.

There are two layers of wood there but the predrilled holes are only in the outer layer.   No big deal though, but just be aware if you’re building this that you’ll need the 3/8″ bit to finish the hole.

Once that was locked down, we started on the nest base supports.   Again, nothing too complex, just screw in the lags after some pilot holes and lock it down.  But tuere was one snag.  For some reason, the one support that goes across the entire crows nest, at the end furthest out on the swing, the support beam is supposed to sit on the swing beam, flush with the crows nest base.  After we attached the braces, we realized it was 1/4″ from flush, which will throw the decking off.  Some adjustments of the lag screws got us within 1/8″ of flush, but that wasn’t good enough.  The rest of this monstrosity fits so well together that it offended our sensibilities to have one of the last parts just stick up 1/8″ and leave it.

So I took the offending board up to the shop and clamped it to the workbench.Then I busted out my chisels (those of you who’ve read my workbench posts know what I’m talking about) and cut down the board, exactly like I cut the notches on the underside of the workbench (click here to see what I’m talking about).

First, I scored a stopcut just inside the two pre-installed barces.  Then, I made another stop cut to control the chisel about a chisels width from the left brace.  With the chisel set bevel down, I used the rubber mallet to gently pare off layer by layer across the board until I got us about an 1/8″ down.

Then I smoothed it all out with the chisels making light passes from different angles using all the chisels I had until I had this:

Kind of hard to see in the picture, but all the wood between the green metal pieces has been reduced in thickness about 1/8″.

Once I was satisfied that the surface was clean and smooth and level, I took it back down the hill to Sara and we test fit the offending board.  You can see by the picture below, it was a perfect fit!  I made the rest of the picture black and white so could figure out easier which board was the one I worked on (here’s a big hint: it’s in color).  Now we were satisfied because the deck for the crows nest could not only be installed but would be nice and flat.

The decking went on quickly with wood screws, and then the veritcal corners went up, followed by a bottom rail.That box on top of the swing arm (above the ladder) is what will become the crows nest in an hour or so.   What time was it when I finished my chisel work?  Well, at that point it was…

Freaky right? I couldn’t resist.

The kids needed to get up from their nap and I had dinner to fix…the real world intrudes once more.

However, that left Sara free to return outside after a break to try and see how much she could get done (of what’s left!).   She quickly slapped up the rails on the crows nest (another section complete!) and here’s what it looks like:

You can see she also was able to put up the last four shingle planks on the roof now that the crows nest was complete, so the roof is finished now too!  Everything is really moving fast now!

I had to tighten down the big lag screws holding the monkeybar handles with the Allen wrench (sometimes brute strength is required) after dinner, so I snapped a few final pictures.   This next one is when I was on the ladder finishing up the monkeybars.  It shows the view inside the clubhouse and the ladder leading up to the brand new crows nest:

And here’s the traditional end of day shot:

Build Time Today: 4 hours, 30 minutes.

TOTAL BUILD TIME: 37 hours, 45 minutes.

About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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