Skip to content

Still Building Forts In My Backyard

June 16, 2020

I’m sure your dad will build this before he finishes the patio.


It’s more fun to build forts than to pour concrete.

She was right, of course, my lovely wife. But, my excuse was that the grandkids were going to be coming by soon. My grandkids don’t care if I have a new patio poured. You know what the 6 year old, three year old and two year old like to play with?

Yeah, forts.

Do you know the difference between concrete and cement? Did you even know there was a difference? I didn’t, for a long time. And even now I have to look them up. In fairness they are often used interchangably. But, technically, you use cement to make concrete, or leave the rocks out and make mortar.

That isn’t really important to the story, but I find myself getting easily distracted when my lovely wife asks me to pour the new patio.

And the fort was a great distraction.

The instruction book is 100 pages long. There are over 50 individual steps.

It suggests that the construction should take two people 14-18 hours. I’m not sure if that included the 1-2 hours they estimated the tube slide would require to construct.

Regardless, all the estimates were off. . .by a lot. There were literally hundreds of pieces and thousands of screws.

These are the screws that were LEFT OVER. Originally all four boxes were full

The instruction writers, or, as I like to call them, “Those who NEVER HAD TO PUT THIS TOGETHER” included allen wrenches to use on the bolts and screws. Allen wrenches are okay if you are putting together a flimsy overpriced bookcase from IKEA. But, trying to put 3″ wood screws into cedar wood, is not something you want to do by hand.

It would have taken 18 hours just to screw in 10 screws.

Fortunately, I have a well supplied tool chest and multiple electric drills.

I started on Step 1 on Friday afternoon. I finished Step 50 sometime Monday night after dark. Not everything was construction. I don’t think I’ve ever built anything, including a flimsy over-priced bookshelf from IKEA, that I didn’t customize at least a little. My play fort was no exception. My biggest addition was adding an extra slide. My neighbor was getting ready to throw away a heavy duty 10′ long plastic slide. I knocked out a section of siding, added a support base and the new slide was ready to go.

I also installed a flag pole. I was tempted to go with a pirate flag. The upper section is called the crow’s nest. And I plan on adding a ship’s wheel. But, then I thought about the fact that my grandkids would be playing on it, and decided I’d rather they play under the American flag than any other flag.

My kids helped as I was building. Some for an hour. Some for a little more. My grandkids came by on Saturday. I had to skip a few steps to get the double slide installed and the swings set up. When they showed up, they even “helped” Papa with the installation.

All in all, I think it probably took me close to 30 hours. The tube slide definitely deserved to have it’s own estimates. It involved 20 different pieces of plastic and dozens of screws. And at least a couple of points where I literally had to balance a nut on the end of my finger, push it into a 1″ wide slot and then try to “catch” the threads from the top side. That alone took almost 30 minutes. I had to do it twice.

I have a new project this week. Well, it’s really an old project, of course. It’s pouring concrete. Or was it pouring cement to make concrete? Again, I know they are different, but I have trouble remembering the difference.

In any case, it won’t be nearly as fun as building a fort in my backyard.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (
LinkedIn (
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply