ANTHONY, OUR SON, BUILDING HIS TREEHOUSE ON OUR LAND

at the start of September 2016.

Shingles going on the Geodesic Dome

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The Beginnings in September 2016

Our 34-year-old son Anthony has come to live with us again after ten years of being away. He has acted as a tour manager for firms that engage him. These firms signed him up because they are bringing in international music bands into Australia. He had to work out all the tour details for each band. He is very detailed, practical and organising …. he loves it!! He takes after his mother Harriet.

We all went to Melbourne in July 2015 to attend the funeral of Harriet’s mother Heather Kent. Heather was 97 years old and the funeral was packed out. There were even people there who Heather wouldn’t have seen for 20 years. Heather was a real family/friendship woman. Anthony suddenly experienced the value of family. Anthony was also one of the pallbearers. That is why Anthony has come to live with us again after ten years of being away. He has become very family orientated and wants to look after us in our later years. He has come to love and appreciate our house built from recycled materials. He has come to help build ‘The Aitken Legacy’ long-term.

He has become very focused on tree houses and has selected a large tree down the back of our bush block land. He has already built the initial platform 4.5 metres off the ground. The dome has now been built and covered with handmade shingles over half the dome as of early August 2017. In late  August, we have agreed on two selected blood trees on our land to be cut down and sawn up into thin flitches to be made into handmade singles. See details and photos below of the man who cuts big field logs into thin flitches of any thickness.

He has formed a Treehouse Club on Facebook. In September 2016 he had 347 members and now in August 2021, he has 37,400 members. In November 2015, he flew over to Oregon, USA to meet Michael Garnier who has a whole business in building tree houses. He came back with a whole suitcase of special hinged bolts that you can use on a tree without hacking into the tree. He getting really serious. See the section at the end of this post OUR LAND OVERALL ANTHONY, OUR SON, BUILDING HIS TREEHOUSE ON OUR LAND ….. September 2016 …. Initial stage.

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Delivery of the Timber:

Early one morning I heard a big truck coming down the exit of our acreage driveway. I went out and it was a large crane truck with a big load of new timber beams for my son Anthony. However, the driver said he couldn’t fit around a slight bend that had a solid eucalypt tree right on the edge. I suggested he back up 150 metres right back to the entry road and come down our other front entry. He said he looked at that but saw there many eucalypt trees down the driveway and so decided to come down our straightforward exit driveway. I assured him that we often had trucks come down there. We are on tank water and needed a big water truck to come down periodically and top up our tank about five times a year in between low rainfall. That has all changed since September 2015 with our new bore supplying much drinkable bore water.

He backed the 150 metres up the driveway to our entry road and easily came down the front section of our driveway and unloaded all the heavy timbers to the side of the big parking area. How was Anthony to build his treehouse and get all these timbers 300 metres down to his site? The few photos below show how he did it.

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The treehouse platform was assembled on concrete blocks to aid in the future disassembly of the platform. Then the pieces were systematically unscrewed and placed on Anthony’s utility.

The next step was that the two main beams were taken down to the treehouse location and lifted into position by a block and tackle ….. 4.50 metres off the ground. Using a ladder, he used two of Michael Garnier’s hinged bolts to fasten them to the tree. Each bolt had a movable flange you could bolt to the beam. Four sturdy cross braces were then installed using further bolts. See the photos below.

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From Anthony

To get the beams up in the tree we used an old-fashioned block and tackle. There was a tree branch just above the bolt so we were able to strap over the branch and use that to hoist the beams. In an attempt to save time, I suggested we leave the cross beams (noggins) on one side of the beam. In hindsight, this was a terrible idea. The extra weight on the end of it made the beam harder to maneuver into position. At one point there was Pat Carmody, Sye M., and myself with shoulders under the beam to lift it onto the static bracket and struggling to move it less than an inch (2cm) So we learned that sometimes what seems like a time-saving approach actually can take longer when you’re building in the trees. #treehouseclub installed using further bolts.

See the photos above and below.

Sturdy cross braces were then installed using further bolts. He has installed bearers and an outside framework to support the floor of marine ply. The floor of marine ply has been installed and cut to fit the hexagonal floor shape. He has painted the floor a tan colour that blends into the surrounding landscape.

Triangles of wood were screwed together for a portion of the roof the Geodesic Dome

Anthony has started to build a rounded dome built out of triangles of wood in our car park in April 2017. He calls it a Geodesic Dome.

It took over a week where he and Jase cut and nailed handmade shingles over the whole dome so that the shingles hang down vertically covering the next layer.

The shingles were made from a big dead bloodwood tree on our land in early April. There is a story here: two days before we went to Japan for 16 days on the 4th of April, Anthony got Lance the tree lopper across the road to come and cut down this big dead bloodwood tree near our driveway. Then he hired in a man who cuts big field logs into thin flitches of thickness. This man arrives with a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a big long trailer of adjustable length. The trailer had a small crane at the end to pick up logs and place them on the trailer for sawing into flitches.

The trailer had at the other of the trailer, an adjustable rotating band saw for sawing flitches. The saw could be adjusted for any thickness for cutting flitches. The rotating band saw is progressively moved by hydraulic action along with the trailer and cuts a flitch of measured thickness off the log. A jet of sprayed water on the saw kept it from overheating. This was how Anthony obtained his 10 mm thick handmade shingles. Other shingles were up to 50 mm thick for seats he was going to make as a separate project. He saved many $$ by doing it this way instead of buying them commercially. See the photos below.

…. The log when sawn shows beautiful red timber which is especially apparent with the water from the spraying ….

In contrast, situations, when settlers came out in the late 1880’s into the dry Australian bush, they wanted to clear the land of trees and create open space for their cattle. They split the trees with wedges to form timber slabs for a hut on their land. They also made post and rail fences: horizontal rails and bigger posts to go in the ground. Alternatively, they broadaxed the tree into big beams for use in barns or in the city buildings. See the beams used in our house in the photo below.

Anthony has yet to build steps up to the treehouse with a very organic look. We have selected another tree for step stringers to be cut down and sawn in half. The rough bark of the tree will be exposed outwards and hand-cut steps will be cut by the man who cuts big field logs into thin flitches of any thickness.

The Building of the Geodesic Dome

Anthony was going to build a big mid-deck on posts with a 4.00 metre wide octagonal floor. Steps were to go from the ground up to the big mid-deck then more steps up to the treehouse. He has now opted for simple steps going from the ground to his treehouse.

From Anthony: It was a pretty crazy idea to put shingles on a geodesic dome. But I’m liking where this is heading. I love working with Json Mung. He likes my lil bits of crazy and makes it work in reality. He was on the scaffolding today, while I was on the cutting station. He would mark the shingles out, throw them to me, while I cut the pattern. I’d throw them back up to him. In the meantime, Jase would pre-drill and hammer while I prepared future shingles and played DJ.

Shamgar balancing on one leg and polyurethane a crack like a ballerina

From Anthony: My mate Shamgar doesn’t do things by halves. I was trying to convince him to WorkSafe but he just laughed at me. He can balance on one leg and polyurethane a crack like a ballerina.

Trimming the live edge of the shingles

Waterproofing done. / A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

A Geodesic Dome to 2.5 metres high built out of triangles of wood over the top octagonal floor base. He and Jase cut and nailed up triangles of thick ply over all the triangles of wood. 12 triangles down. 48 to go

New A-Frame doorway for the treehouse. Couldn’t have done it without Json Mung

A timber ladder and door have yet to be built as of October 2017. See the photos below of the timber steps going do to the deck built in April 2018.

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Summary to August 2017

•           He built the platform as a supported octagonal floor base … a 4.00 metre wide platform which is 4.50 metres up the big gum tree featured in the photos above

•           A Geodesic Dome to 2.5 metres high built out of triangles of wood over the top octagonal floor base

•           He and Json cut and nailed up triangles of thick ply over all the triangles of wood

•           He has waterproofed the whole dome with a durable waterproof compound

•           It took over a week where he and Json cut and nailed handmade shingles over half the whole dome so that the shingles hang down vertically covering the next layer

•           Anthony says he is not a carpenter but he has certainly done his apprenticeship in carpentry

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Building the mid-deck as of April 2018 …. The deck as it is in April 2018

Anthony and Pat digging out the twelve holes for the steel stirrups to be concreted in for the twelve vertical posts which will support the deck.

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The twelve vertical posts along with the bearers and the rafters for the deck.

The deck is twelve-sided. The twelve vertical posts along with the bearers and the rafters for the deck.

Anthony hired Roy who cuts big field logs into thin flitches of any thickness to come and cut up a big log. I had stored this log in my timber storage area from years ago. It was great to see it being cut up for the floorboards on Anthony’s treehouse deck.

Looking down on the finished deck, The deck has an asymmetrical ramp leading from the ground to the deck and a solid set of steps going up to the treehouse deck.

Steps and ramp from a different angle


Anthony sanding down the vertical posts for the banister railing around the whole deck

The bush outlook looking down into the steep Norris Creek region ….. very green as an outlook. Norris Creek flows into Logan River about a kilometre down the creek.

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Balustrading is still under construction in late April. Two big entry balustrade posts have to be secured to the ramp. The next step is to complete the rope in the balustrading.

The rope in the balustrading is complete. The rope is tied of firm knots. A thin flitch is fastened to upright balustrade posts so if Anthony was entertaining after the completion of the deck, guests would have somewhere to put drinks.  Also any trays of entrée could be placed  on the flat flitch.

The deck looking the ramp that leads down to the ground. A sink just visible at the junction of the ramp and deck will be installed on the deck at a later date. Anthony ground and sanded down the twelve vertical posts for the banister railing around the whole deck.

The steps with a banister and handrail is very organic. The handrail is made from a  small tree trunk that has been cut off and the handrail is a branch in the tree. All the vertical balustrade posts have all been firmly bolted to the outer deck framework.

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Summary to April 2018
Treehouse:
• Anthony built the platform as a supported octagonal floor base … a 4.00 metre wide platform which is 4.50 metres up the big gum tree featured in the photos above
• A Geodesic Dome to 2.5 metres high built out of triangles of wood over the top octagonal floor base
• He and Json cut and nailed up triangles of thick ply over all the triangles of wood
• He has waterproofed the whole dome with a durable waterproof compound
• It took over a week where he and Json cut and nailed handmade shingles over half the whole dome so that the shingles hang down vertically covering the next layer. More shingles have been cut and these have been used to complete all the shingling. It is now waterproof.
• Anthony says he is not a carpenter but he has certainly done his apprenticeship in carpentry


Building the mid-deck as of April 2018
• After the small excavator used a steel hole digging screw, Anthony and Pat dug out the twelve holes for the steel stirrups to be concreted in for the twelve vertical posts which will support the deck. The deck is twelve-sided.
• Anthony hired Roy who cuts big field logs into thin flitches of any thickness to come and cut up a big log. I had stored this log in my timber storage area from years ago. It was great to see it being cut up for the floorboards on Anthony’s treehouse deck.
• Anthony sanded down the twelve vertical posts for the banister railing around the whole deck. He then bolted vertical posts to the deck edge.

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