Projects are calling: Build a play castle‭ (© Steven Dewall)

© Steven Dewall

When a windstorm knocked over an old oak tree in the Wincklers' spacious back yard, the tree was removed and a bed of river rock was put down in its place.

Now with two kids bounding with energy and imagination, the Wincklers wanted to build a kid-friendly play structure for the whole family to enjoy.


Designing a structure that a 6-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl would both love was a little bit of a challenge, but all I really needed to do was think like a kid and use the same vivid, child-like imagination.

A traditional playhouse wouldn't do, nor would a classic fort, but, I realized, I could combine the two, incorporating a giant drawbridge, treasures and costumes, and get a 'castle' perfect for slaying dragons or holding court with neighborhood pals.

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Here's everything you need to complete this project:

  • Chop saw with 12-inch blade
  • Circular saw with 7-1/4-inch blade
  • Table saw with 12-inch blade
  • Jigsaw
  • Hammer
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Framing nail gun
  • Air compressor and air hoses
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver bit
  • Measuring tape
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Extension cords
  • Level
  • Chalk line
  • Compass or string and a pencil
  • Eye protection
  • Ear protection
  • Finishing nail gun
  • Finishing nails: Nail length should equal twice the thickness of wood. For example, if wood is 3/4-inch thick then use 1-1/2-inch nails.
  • 2-by-6-inch pressure-treated studs (floor)
  • Tongue and groove plywood (floor)
  • T1-11 ship lap plywood (walls)
  • 2-by-4 studs (walls)
  • 2-by-6 planks (second-story floor)
  • Ring shank nails
  • 12 pre-fabricated concrete form tubes; 4-feet long, 12 inches in diameter
  • 2-by-2-inch wood mounting strips
  • Exterior house paint
  • Roller
  • 3/8-inch nap roller covers
  • Extension pole
  • Paint trays
  • 4 concrete blocks with metal ties pre-installed
  • Handrail dowel; mounting brackets and screws

Optional drawbridge and door details:

  • Chain or rope
  • 4 eye-bolts
  • 4 nuts
  • 4 washers
  • Wrench (to tighten nut for eye-bolt)
  • Pre-fabricated exterior door
  • 2 sets of hinges and mounting screws
  • Door knob (non-latching, non-locking)