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Projects for beginners, with or without trees

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Projects for beginners, with or without trees


Tools and hardware for treehouse construction

Treehouses involve lots of parts that need to be shaped and fixed together. Certain tools are essential, such as a saw, but due to the number of cuts involved some jobs are better done with powered tools. You don't need to have a fully equipped workshop to build a treehouse because they are usually not very complicated to construct. The key is to save time on repetitive tasks and ensure your measurements and angles stay accurate. You should be able to get all the tools you need to build for under $300. Cutting wood materials to size with a circular saw saves huge amounts of time and effort.

As well as time, accuracy is an important part of a successful treehouse. You need to be able to cut beams, joists and studs at a consistent 90° so they can join tightly together, so a speed square is better and faster than guessing by eye.

Battery-powered drill and charger set

DeWalt 18 volt drill/driver

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A solid and reliable portable drill that comes with an extra battery. This will handle almost all drilling jobs around a treehouse and will drive all the screws and smaller sized hex-head bolts you need for supports, framing and cladding. For main support bolt holes into the tree you may require a larger drill.

Hitachi circular saw

Hitachi 7¼" circular saw

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Accurate and robust saw that will find many uses preparing materials. If you currently use a hand saw you will make huge savings using a circular saw. Easy square cuts for supports and fast trimming of sheet materials for cladding the walls and roof.

Speed square

Swanson 7" speed square

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Important for marking straight end cuts on joists, beams, studs, etc. This square is marked with angle points so you can easily mark a 60° cut, for example.

Related equipment

Getting supports and frames into the trees requires some heavy lifting and attention to safety. Climbing equipment can take care of a lot of these requirements, from harnesses that allow you to move around in the tree safely, to pulley systems for lifting parts into the tree. As with camping, there is also a huge range of accessories that can help make your finished space more comfortable and useful.


Hammock with fine insect screen

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Ideal hammock for sleeping out in the trees. Built-in insect mesh protects you from bites during the night and is more comfortable than a hard floor.

Fabric strap hanging from tree branch

Tree hanging strap

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These straps help to protect the bark of the tree from damage caused by rubbing ropes. Use them over a branch or fork as an anchor point for a climbing rope or lifting system. Avoid permanently loading straps as tree damage can occur over time.

Harness used for climbing with ropes

Black Diamond climbing harness
$45 approx

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Waist and leg supports with plenty of places to clip in climbing gear and tools.

Coil of static rope

BlueWater static rope

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Rope with low elasticity, used for rappelling (abseiling), lifting loads and when working while suspended. Can be substituted with cheaper polypropylene rope but braided climbing ropes are softer to handle and will accept knots more easily.

Coil of dynamic rope

Sterling dynamic climbing rope

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General climbing safety rope. The rope can stretch to absorb some of the impact of a fall so is much safer than static rope. For situations where you will be working while suspended, a static rope should be used instead.

Metal pulley with two wheels

Petzl Tandem pulley for zip lines

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Double wheels for stability and smooth running on steel cables. Can also be used on horizontal static rope to make a movable crane point for lifting heavy items into the tree.

Metal pulley with one wheel

Petzl single pulley for lifting loads

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Simple but effective small pulley that can handle heavy loads. Attach to a strap in the tree with a carabiner as a lifting point. With a second pulley attached to the load you can lift with half the effort.

Coil of paracord

Titan military grade 550lb paracord

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General purpose thin rope for lifting tools and lashing materials in position. Not suitable for climbing use. Burn cut ends to seal them and prevent fraying.

Descending device for climbers

Figure eight descender or belay device

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Mainly designed for rappelling (abseiling) down a rope, which is the fastest way down from a high treehouse, but can also be used to belay a climber from the ground or anchor a lifting rope to the ground to prevent it slipping back over the pulley.

Screwgate carabiner

Black Diamond screwgate carabiner

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Screwgate carabiners are recommended for all treehouse climbing, to avoid accidental opening. They should always be used when lifting materials.

Climbing safety helmet

Petzl helmet

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Head protection from falls and impact with materials during treehouse construction.

Pair of saw horses

Folding sawhorses
$35 for two

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Lightweight and folds flat for storage, but with plenty of stability to support beams when making cuts. It's worth setting up an extra pair as a table to keep tools and small parts off the ground.

LED flashlight

Cree 7W LED flashlight

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Excellent value bright LED. Fits in one hand and runs from a single AA battery.

Hardware and fastener supplies

There are two main areas of treehouse construction - the supports and the house itself. For the supports you will be using a selection of heavier lag bolts and standard bolts that are weather resistant (galvanized or stainless steel). The house can be assembled with nails but screws are now mainly used due to their ease of installation with a portable drill, their accuracy and resistance to loosening. Between all the bolts and screws required for a typical treehouse, it is easy to spend as much on hardware as on the wood, so calculate what you need in advance and buy in bulk wherever possible.