• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

What wood for children's play equipment

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

yeti

Established Member
Joined
27 May 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
0
Location
Essex
Looking to build some monkey bars for the children in my back garden. Quite a simple structure from say 2" x 5" boards, with ~1" dowel for the bars. Something like this, but smaller and not in oak!
https://www.playequip.com/monkey-bars-for-adults/

Question is, what softwood should I be using which will give me say 10+ years use? Want minimum maintenance and any protective paint/oil should be child friendly..

Brooks Brothers are my (very) local wood merchant and they sell a variety of softwoods here:
https://www.brookstimber.com/softwoods.php

Western Red Cedar? Redwood with a protective oil?

I don't mind the wood colour fading with age; think it adds character to the piece.
 

ED65

Established Member
Joined
3 Dec 2015
Messages
3,593
Reaction score
2
Softwood, for the dowels? Doug fir might be strong enough but I think you'd want to use hardwood at least.
 

J-G

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2014
Messages
901
Reaction score
209
Location
ATHERSTONE
I suggest that a ~1" dia bar is far too small - even for children!

I would start thinking at least 40 - 50mm - and certainly hardwood - beech, ash, elm....

It might be an idea to look at wooden curtain pole - unless you have a lathe that can handle the length needed.
 

Fitzroy

All the gear...
Joined
12 Mar 2013
Messages
1,660
Reaction score
684
Location
Aberdeen
You’ll not want a bar with too great a diameter as the kids will not be able to grip. I’ve seen kids wooden monkey bars on friends climbing frames with a diameter of c. 25-30mm but they are only 300-400 mm wide, nothing like the span on your picture.

With regards materials lots of the commercial frames seem made of southern yellow pine that’s been pressure treated.

A kids play frame is in my to do list and I plan to make it from yellow treated building timber.

Fitz.
 

yeti

Established Member
Joined
27 May 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
0
Location
Essex
Thanks for your comments. Regards the dowel width, I've some old curtain poles and my boy prefers 32mm in tests.. Thanks for the link to toolsandtimber; the bars in oak work out about £2 each, which is ok.

What about the frame material? I cannot afford hardwood so thought Western Red Cedar was a good alternative?
 

ED65

Established Member
Joined
3 Dec 2015
Messages
3,593
Reaction score
2
To be on the safe side even going with oak you'll want to select your pieces with care. Grain runout can significantly weaken a dowel, just like it can a hammer or axe handle.
 

yeti

Established Member
Joined
27 May 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
0
Location
Essex
Ok, thanks for the info on dowels; that one is squared away.

Any thoughts on the softwood frame material please?
 

yeti

Established Member
Joined
27 May 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
0
Location
Essex
Any comments on the software for frame material please?

or what appropriate preservative if using Redwood?
 

AJB Temple

Finely figured
Joined
13 Oct 2015
Messages
3,597
Reaction score
828
Location
Tunbridge Wells
If I was doing it on a tight budget I would use pressure treated tanalised softwood framing timber. You can get a 10% trade card from Wickes very easily. I would dip all ends in a bucket of timber preserver. I would probably construct with timber-fix screws or coach bolts.

If I want it to last 10 years then I would use oak frankly and be done with. Buy from a lumber yard.
 
Top