Tree Tower Tree House

TREETOWER3My brother bought a farm a year or so ago.  He’s been adding fruit trees, chickens, fences, and all sorts of other improvements.  He has five kids so I’ve been pushing for the addition of a tree house.  They want to use the property as a retreat for people (they actually already are), so I’m hoping to convince him to save his money and then build the tree house as an actual living space.

I had all of the kids draw up what they wanted in a tree house and I tried to incorporate as many of their ideas into my plan as I could.  Below is my first pass at what this thing might look like.

1.  For safety, maintenance, expandability, livability, and durability, the tree house was designed instead as a free-standing tree tower to be located among the trees rather than in it.
2.  This design is based off a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood.  The tower is made up of three 8′ squares.  Walls are 8′ tall per floor.
3.  The tower is located in a wooded area with tall mature oak trees and almost no ground foliage.  The area is in a slight depression that can get a little muddy when it rains a lot.  The bottom of the tower should be elevated above driveway height by about a foot.  This will put it one to three feet off the ground.
4.  Walls to be made of 2″x6″ lumber, insulated.  Outside would be cedar shakes or Hardiboard painted about the color of the tree bark.  Inside would be Sheetrock painted white.
5.  Roofs to be standing seam metal construction.
6. Built-in furniture and floors would be semigloss polyurethaned oak.
7.  Windows to be painted rust red or orange.
8.  Lower deck could be made into a screened porch with permanent, removable, or retractable screens.
9.  Second and third floors are accessed via split-rung ladder recessed into wall.
10.  Second and third floors have trap door to cover ladder access hole to reduce the chance of people fall through that hole.
11. “Bedroom” areas can accommodate a queen-size bed and may be used for sleeping, or putting in a table for eating and board games.
12.  Areas above windows in “bedrooms” contain storage shelves.  These shelves could have LED lighting installed underneath to light the space.
13.  Concrete footings need to be engineered to support this tall narrow structure and keep it stable under max wind loads for that region of the country.  A soil survey may be necessary to ensure the design provides the necessary stability.
14.  Upper deck has access to a tree stand/platform (more like a traditional tree house) via suspension bridge that is not attached directly to the tree tower (in case the tree falls over, we don’t want it pulling on the tree tower).  The tree platform has a rope ladder for second means of access.
15.  Install two-piece A/C system for comfort and to avoid musty, moldy camp bunkhouse situation.  A/C system includes a wall mounted blower, a single wall penetration for coolant lines, and a ground-based compressor located outside.  No ductwork needed.
16.  The railing around the second story deck would probably be open wood (standard looking railing) or painted metal to give it a more open airy feel, but I was too lazy to model that for this concept.

What do you think of this design?  What should be changed?  What have I forgotten?



Juicer Designs and Michael Graves Design Deluxe Lemon Squeezer: Fun or Fart?

If you are like me, you have found that even simple recipes can be slowed down when fresh fruit juice is necessary.  Want a whiskey sour or lemonade?  Just dump the ingredients together.  No wait, you’ve got to juice that lemon first and don’t even think about the stale bottled stuff.

For years we used one of those plastic ribbed half-football thingies that screws on the top of a jar.  It sucked but we didn’t know any better.  Then a friend gave us a fruit reamer which was many times better.  Recently we heard about another design which was supposed to be a juicer’s delight.

The basic design of any lemon squeezer is the same.  There is a hinged cup that the fruit half goes in.  Squeezing a pair of handles closes the cup, inverts the fruit half and extracts the juice.  The specific model that I’d heard great things about is the Amco Enameled Aluminum Lemon Squeezer.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it locally but I did find the Michael Graves Design Deluxe Lemon Squeezer at Target.

Just guessing by looking at the pictures the Michael Graves version probably isn’t quite as sturdy as the Amco one but it works just fine.  Actually, it is much better than fine.  It is by far the easiest and fastest way to extract fruit juice that I’ve ever tried.  It doesn’t get every last drop, but then neither does a reamer and it is so much faster than a reamer.  It takes about as long as running garlic through a garlic press, but much less hand strength is required.  It seems like it will hold up as well as other items in this price category but eventually the finish probably will come off.  I think the product life could be extended with a quick hand washing rather than running it through a dishwasher every time it is used.

My only quibble is that small seeds slip through the strainer and into the juice, but overall this is a great kitchen gadget.