Sunday, December 18, 2022

What do you see?


A new year requires a new project. So look at this picture. I ask, What do you see? ...  Some may say a nice winter scene. Or an ax throwing target. Maybe a sculpture made of old junk parts. Perhaps boards nailed to a tree. What do you see?

Lets zoom in a bit and eliminate some of the distractions. Now, What do you SEE? Many will say a woods with a dead, broken off tree and they would be correct. Because that's what it IS. But, if we use a little bit of  imagination and think out of the box it could be...

A very cool lookout tower/treehouse. Can you see the spiral stairs going around the tree trunk. Can you see yourself going through the floor opening. Then sitting on a bench seat wrapped around the tree looking out over the woods. 

Well follow along with me and over the next few months I will show you what I SEE. Doing this has made all the difference for me in my life.

Lets get started with making the model. The scale for the model will be about

1/8" = 1" The tree trunk at the base is 30" and the height to where the first broken area starts is 19 feet. 

Working with some nice scrap plywood for a base and a 3.5" diameter shipping tube I had my tree trunk. After doing some research on the web for laying out spiral stairs I was ready to map the steps out. My stairs would have a rise of 8". The treads would be tapered from 4" where they will be mortised into the tree trunk to 12" wide at the outside end. They will be cut out of 2" thick Oak from the tree tops and other logs in the woods. A pattern was made on paper and wrapped around the trunk where the individual steps were marked and twenty-four 3/16" holes drilled. 

The 24 model stair treads are cut out of cardboard.

I hot glued the treads to chop sticks because the tapered end fit and held each step very nicely in the 3/16" diameter drilled holes. In the actual project mortis pockets will be cut 4" deep into the tree for the end of each step going up the tree. 

A 1/16 diameter hole was drilled into the wide end of each stair step. Through this hole a 1/16" diameter wire will be run. OxyAcetylene filler metal rods did the job very well. This simulated the 1/2" diameter rebar used in concrete work that I will use in the real project. Each step will be held up by the rod hanging down from the platform base of the Lookout/Treehouse tower.

 Here you can see the first few steps plugged into the "tree". Looks pretty good so far.

So with the platform base cut it was time to drill the holes where the rod hangers for the individual steps would go.

Here you can see the platform base in place and two of the 1/16" rod hangers installed.

A way to hold up and support the platform base will be needed. This will be made from treated 4 by 6's. There will be several things to consider here. First they cannot interfere with the headroom needed for the stairs. Any knee braces will also have to stay out of the stairway. Lastly the 4 by 6's cannot cover up any of the holes for the 1/2" diameter stair hanger rods. Modeling this out before actual construction will be a big help.

The opening in the platform base to allow for the required headroom needed for the stairs was another detail that had to be solved. Going with a minimum of 64" headroom with the 8" rise will require 8 steps to make it work. That is a bit more than 1/4 of the floor area of the platform base. For some reason when making the model I got it in my head that the platform base size was dependent on the stair hanger rods and made it this diameter. After some input from a friend I increased the diameter to 8 feet.

Here the model person (not to 1/8 scale) demonstrates the need for headroom opening that must be solved.

OK so after some trial and error modifications have been made to the 4 by 6 supports and the diameter of the platform base. This change in the platform base to an 8 foot diameter will allow for a narrow pathway around the stair opening.

Here the 1/16" filler metal rods have been run through the holes in the platform base and each stair tread. For the model I ran them all the way to the ground base. In the real project the plan calls for each 1/2" rebar having a washer welded to the end to be passed through the platform base through a star tread hole and then have a stop set-screwed below the tread supporting it. There's re-bar stop at the bottom of each stair tread. Thus hanging each stair tread from the platform base.

So there are a lot of moving parts to this project and they all have to work together to make it a success. Support of the platform base. Stair run, rise and head room. Support for both ends of each stair tread.

Nice view. I will be running the rods up along the stair opening to form a safety railing for the headroom opening. Will also be adding a wrap around bench for seating going around the "tree".

My plan is for the ceiling to be at around 7 feet. The sides, made out of treated 4 by 4's will be slanted out. There will be some sort of iron railing going around from post to post. This will allow for better viewing when sitting in the Lookout enjoying a beverage.


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