Corbin's Treehouse - Corbin Dunn, Santa Cruz, CA
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Treehouse

Treehouses. They fascinate children and bring out imagination in adults.

Picture of Corbin\'s Treehouse

I built and lived in a treehouse for a while. I built the first one in Jr High School (1992), and then a proper one to live in when I was 20-21. I lived in it for about 5 years.

I have quite a few web pages documenting the treehouse — mainly construction of the new one, and some pictures of when it was finished. They are in the “old style” of my website, and have some outdated links (sorry!)

Start on the main page: treehouse.html.

Or, take a look at some of the finished pictures, from back in 2000: Page 7 of Treehouse Pictures.

Note that the treehouse fell down in 2009 (the floor fell out).


Treehouse blogs:

  • All About Tree Houses – helping people learn to build their own tree houses through informative article/posts and question & answer. By Dan Wright, from Tree Top Builders, who builds treehouses for a living, and also offers workshops. In addition, check out his treehouse and zipline videos on YouTube.
  • The Treehouse Guy. Peter Nelson’s blog. He is the author of quite a few famous treehouse books, some of which inspired me to build my last big treehouse.

Below are posts from the “treehouses” category on my blog.



Some amazing treehouses


A friend pointed me to a link on MNN with some amazing treehouses. That led me to Romero Studios. They have built some quit amazing treehouse structures, such as the screen shot below. Check them out on their website!

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Treehouse Fall Down – Video


This is a follow up to the last post where I posted pictures.



Treehouse Fall Down – Pictures


The main part of my old treehouse fell down quite some time ago. however, the walls were left standing until a while ago when they finally fell too. Here’s a few pictures. I’ll post a walk around video soon.

The old stairs and front deck (which still stands):

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The house, literally on its side:

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Talking Treehouses on Irish Radio


Tom Dunne of newstalk 106-108 FN in Ireland called me at 4:30 in the morning one friday to talk about treehouses. You can listen to the recording: Go to http://media.newstalk.ie/listenback/, then Tom Dunne, Archive, March 26 2010. Part 3, 48 minutes in. (Thanks Tom and Mia for finding it!).


Article on Asylum.com


Blogger Brian Fairbanks, of asylum.com did an interview of my prior living in a treehouse. He came up with a cool article. Check it out: How to Live in a Treehouse, From a Guy Who Did It for Five Years

:)


Old stuff: Zip line and treehouse finishing


Ah, some pictures and details I meant to post ages ago.

Building stairs for the treehouse:

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Accessories for the zip line:

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And me installing it:

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Zip line to the treehouse


I’m still working on it, but here’s a short video of some of it.



Wedding Treehouse – platform sneak peak


Well! Today I finished the base platform. This is all I’m planning on doing for the wedding. Well, this and adding stairs. Sometime after honeymoon I will turn it into a real treehouse with walls and a roof. It turned out pretty neat, but a little shaky in the horizontal plane. I had let the brackets cool by themselves and didn’t harden them by quenching in water (or oil); I think this made them stay slightly flexible, which I thought would be a good thing. In addition, the half-circle design isn’t as strong as a complete circle which would prevent most lateral movement in the horizontal plane.

Here’s a sneak peek of the finished platform. I’ll hopefully write a blog entry on the making of it, and include some of the framing details.

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The Wedding Treehouse – beam install


The first step was to install the top brackets. Well, first had to get the proper bolts. I wanted to use 3/4″ thick (radius) by 8″ long lag bolts — galvanized to support the weather. When I built my first treehouse, I just bought them from OSH or San Lorenzo Lumber. Now a days, we have Home Depot, and still OSH. Home depot doesn’t really carry large lag bolts, and OSH has a wider selection, but no 3/4″ lag bolts. Both places have coarse thread 3/4″ ungalvanized bolts, and that was my only real option. I could order something from the internet…but I wasn’t that patient. I did some test holes in a sample tree and discovered that the coarse thread 3/4″ bolts thread quite nicely into a 5/8″ pilot hole. The only problem is that they will eventually rust, since they aren’t galvanized. I figure it will be an experiment to see how long before they rust and cause the treehouse to fall down. I think it will last at least 10 years, probably 20 and maybe 30. The bolts will be “somewhat” protected from the elements, so they shouldn’t rust all that fast. I realize I’m making a mistake by not using the proper hardware, but that’s okay by me.

So, I sunk the first bracket into the tree; all was fine. I drilled the hole for the second and realized that an 8″ lag bolt is too big for a tree that has a radius slightly less than 8″ (oh, duh!). I really need to have used a larger tree, but this is the one I wanted it in. So, I traded in my 8″ bolts for 5″ bolts. They seem to get as much holding power as the longer ones, and I think 8″ is overkill.

Rock climbers use much smaller bolts — but then again, those bolts are drilled into solid granite. So, a second experiment is to see how well these shorter ones work. Before I got the shorter ones, I used a few of the 8″ ones but made a 1″ space out off 3/4 inner diameter by 1″ outer diameter steel pipe I had from moving my mill.

Here’s some more iPhone pictures:

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Each beam was carefully leveled with the previous beam and then leveled radially. Unfortunately…I now realize that didn’t work so well, as some of the old beams are slightly warped. I should have ripped (or jointed) a side perfectly flat before using them…but then again…”oh well”..

More soon…


The Wedding Treehouse – Bracket Fabrication


I bought some 4” wide by 1/4” thick steel from SIMS metal in San Jose with the intent on using it to make brackets. Now, 4” would be perfect if I used 4x4s for the knee braces, which I would ideally want to use. However, I have 2x8s for free, so I’m going to use those. To create a bracket that holds them, I need 2” wide pieces of steel. At first, I figured I’d just cut the 4” pieces down to size, but I quickly discovered how hard that was to do with a sawzall or jigsaw (with metal cutting blades, of course).

So, I went back to SIMs and bought some 2” wide 1/4” stock mild steel — this is perfect for the 1.5” wide “2x8s”, since the two 1/4” sides takes up the extra 1/2”.

I took some pictures with my good camera and the iPhone. I’ll use the latter since I have them handy on my computer already. I used the mill to create 1.5” spaces out of some square tubing I had; I used them to ensure the spacing was correct when I welded the brackets together. I drilled the holes *after* welding, which was a mistake, since the top was really chattery when I drilled it. I drilled it after to ensure the holes lined up, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Instead of doing that, I now realize I could have just drilled the two sides together at the same time *before* I welded them. Oh well!

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It is really tricky welding 1/4” steel with an oxy-acetylene torch. I used my dad’s old #2 or #3 tip and old torch, which leaked slightly at first and caught on fire near the handle. A quick tightening with the wrench prevented subsequent fires, and I used gloves from then on since it was super-hot welding with lots of heat in order to melt the thick steel. I got some good welds on the outside, but the inside welds are ugly and hard to hit. It makes me wish I had a wire feed MIG welder for quick and dirty stuff like this. I vastly underestimated the time it would take to weld the brackets ,and it took me several evenings of work, and almost an entire Saturday to finish most of them.

Here’s a shot of the lower knee braces. I intended to have the hole for the 3/4” bolt to be at the bottom of the brace (more on that later). You can also see the small 1.5” square tubing spacer that I used when welding and drilling:

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For fun, I used the mill to square off the 45 degree angles. It would have been faster to just do it with a file, but the mill makes cleaner and more precise cuts.

For drilling, I used my drill press and a bunch of the T2 tapered drill bits I got with my lathe:

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I really need to learn how to sharpen drill bits. I tend to just destroy the tips. I did use cutting fluid while drilling, and drilled out the sizes a few times when working up to 3/4” inches. The brackets will hang off the tree with a single 3/4” lag bolt (more details on that later — I had trouble finding the right ones). The wooden 2×8 knee brace will attach to the bracket with two 5/8” bolts. It’ll be solid (or, so I hope).


(c) 2008-2012 Corbin Dunn

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