Friday, April 11, 2014

DIY PVC Play Palace

We had an alarming number of snow days this year, our first winter on the East Coast as a family. From what we hear, the weather we've been enduring is unusual. But we still had to get through it one way or another. I am passionate about getting my kids outside, but only so long as I am also comfortable. And I'm not yet comfortable for more than around 30 minutes in the cold and snowy.

This combination of circumstances led to a huge number of hours spent holed up at home over the winter.

Fortunately, Pinterest came to the rescue. I found too many fort ideas, but then stumbled on this one. I thought, hey, I can do that! Except instead of a square, I wanted a rectangle that could fit over a toddler bed so two guys could play in it, and so the bed would still be available in case Dash ever wanted to sleep in it (short answer: no, he'll never want to sleep in it. It's a train/trash truck/rocket, not a bed).

Armstrong and Aldrin on their way to the moon.

So I modified the plan and measured three times and then I went out and bought materials. In a downpour. At a Home Depot where most of the power was out.

And then we tried to follow the directions. And it turns out that (as I look back at Pinterest and peruse more designs that somehow didn't come up in my earlier searches) all good plans require some extra pipe. Or these things, but I couldn't find any at Lowe's or Home Depot around here. So we built a roofless fort and put it over Dash's bed, with curtains along the sides to make it feel enclosed.

The guys played "Buster Keaton" for a couple days on it (somehow, I failed to take pictures). Then they demanded that we take it down.

Last Saturday, we stayed in all morning for no real reason. So we re-worked the design with pipe cutters and extra fittings.

This is what our corners now look like: a three-way, 90-degree joint connecting to a 90-degree joint turned on an angle to connect with the roof. Above, a three-way, angled joint forms the corner of the rectangle.

The complete skeleton.

Roof joint.

The beam that runs across the roof has to be a few inches longer than the beams on the long sides to accommodate for the extra pipe on the ends. We had a lot of pieces of pipe hanging around, so we just trimmed one to fit and used a spare connector to attach to the longer pipe.

With roof.

After we'd constructed it, we moved the palace where it belongs, on top of Dash's bed. Now the fellas retreat there regularly with flashlights and toys to play all sorts of games. Total success (except when they wake up at 3AM to play there).

Permanent home.

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