Building a Playstar playset

Last summer we finally decided to build a playset for the girls. It was quite a project, but it turned out well, and the girls love it. We decided on the Playstar Super Star Silver Star. A friend, who’d been involved in evaluating play equipment for a local community, suggested that the spiral slide wouldn’t get much use after the initial thrill wore off, but that straight slides (and their higher speed) would stay popular.IMG_1580.JPG

This is not really a weekend project unless you have help. I had three very handy individuals as helpers, including a friend of 25 years and my brother-in-law and his wife. We printed two copies of the manual, and worked separately on the two towers. I have three cordless drills and had set up my compound miter saw on a stand. There was little time spent being confused, arguing, waiting for tools, or any of the other usual time wasters – we were very efficient.

I started early in the morning cutting pieces, and we still didn’t get done until past dinner time the next day. In fact, there were some pieces (like the rock climbing holds) that didn’t get done until several days later.

My point is that this can be a very big project, so plan accordingly. My wife did an awesome job of getting the kids out of the way and keeping them out. If she hadn’t, I don’t know how long it would have taken!

We bought the wood and the parts together from Menards. The delivery guy was very nice, and even put the skids in the back yard for us. This was very good, because the wood arrived about as dry as if it had been pulled out of a pond. Treated lumber is often very damp when bought from discount places, and other than being heavy there was no problem with it. I think we had one curvy 2×4, otherwise I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the wood.

Plan on driving about a gazillion 2-1/2″ deck screws. Seriously, we went through 3 huge boxes of them, and have about 5 left over. I suggest if you don’t drive screws for a living, you keep an eye on popular blister spots – like the inside of your thumb – and have athletic tape ready. On the second day I had a few sore spots that made driving screws just no fun.

Tim, my brother-in-law, located the footprint with stakes while I was still cutting pieces. He oriented the unit at an angle, which makes it a lot easier to spot the kids when they’re on the playset. I would have made it aligned parallel out of habit, but having it angled works a lot better. This was one step that I had mentally blown off, but Tim took it seriously and I’m grateful.

When I opened the box I found the instructions had been robbed from it. I called Playstar, and they sent me a link to get new copies online. this worked out great, because I could print as many as I needed. This way everyone had a copy and there was no hunting for them outside. All of the required parts were present, and we didn’t have to make any changed due to mistakes in the plans. Things fit the way they were supposed to.

Because my girls are too young to do hand over hand on the rings between the two towers, I made a bridge out of steel cable and 2×4’s drilled edge-wise. It took a couple hours to make, but it works well. In a few years when the girls are old enough I will take it out.

If I was going to do it again, there’s not much I would do differently but one thing: Sand the pieces before assembly. Sanding the unit once it is complete is miserable. Really, nearly impossible. But the individual pieces are easy to hit with a random orbit sander, and 60-100 grit paper, and get the corners rounded and obvious splinters removed.

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