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  • The Ruthless Maker

Framing the Walls of the Epic Play Fort - ORC Week 4


To nail, or not to nail, that is the question. This week was all about framing the walls of the play fort. One debate I had with myself was do I use nails or screws to build the frame. There were arguments for both sides. On one hand, screws are way easier to use when you don’t have a nail gun. If you make a mistake, you can simply unscrew it. The downside of screws is they can shear (break along the shaft) easier than nails if they have a large force exerted on them (For example, if a kid were to run and jump against the wall). Nails, on the other hand require more effort to install by hand with a hammer and require more precision. If I were to make a mistake using a nail, it would be very difficult to extract it without damaging the wood. The professionals use nails when framing, as nails are stronger along the shaft and are less likely to break along the shaft.

Can you guess which fastener type I decided to go with? If you said, nails, you’re right! While I’m sure I would have been fine using screws in my play fort, I didn’t want to chance. Especially with my boys as they get older, who knows how rowdy they will be in this fort.


The walls were framed with pressure treated 2x4s. Since the overall dimensions of my raised platform where the fort would sit was 96” wide by 100.75” deep (front to back), I was lucky that I could build each wall to be 96” long.



I started with the back wall. The back wall would have no windows so it was pretty straight forward framing wise. I first measured out the stud locations on the top and bottom plates to be 16” on center, and then started by nailing in the end studs first followed by filling in the studs in the middle. I simply hammered two 3” galvanized steel spiral nails into each studs bottom and top to secure them. Each stud was cut to 59.5”, so that after taking into account the double top plate and single bottom plate, the overall height of the wall would be 64”.



After building the frame for the back wall, I moved onto the side walls. The side walls were a bit more involved since there‘s a door and a window. To frame a window or a door frame, you need to be sure to support the structure. Since there is now an opening where you may have otherwise had a stud, it’s important to brace the sides of the window opening using a Jack stud (a stud that extends up to your opening) and couple it with a stud that extends the full height of your wall (king stud) and add in vertical supports (called cripples). You can check out the visual in the image below.


Some of the design considerations on the side walls that I thought about was the height of the window. I purposely decided to place the window higher up on the wall because I didn’t want one of the boys to lean to far out and fall out.


This play Fort is three sided and I was able to finish two walls completely and 80% of the third wall (side wall). My big challenge next week will be moving these walls to the platform and securing them.


Thank you for following along on my One Room Challenge - The Epic Outdoor Boy Zone Play space. I share lots of real time updates and videos on this play fort build on Instagram @theruthlessmaker. Also, if you are interested in this type of project, there are many other One Room Challenge participants who are doing equally cool stuff. Check them out here.

~Ruth the Ruthless Maker~

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