Fisher Hill Log Playground

Monday, July 17th, 2017 @ 10:42 am

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I’ve had the privilege to work with Mitch Ryerson for two summers now, and this was my first project with him in May-July of 2015.  This was a huge undertaking, and it took quite a while to work all the pieces into the final thing; many days of beating sun and humidity, no shade on the worksite and endless amounts of water guzzled.  But we did it!  And it came out great.

Prepping the logs

Mitch uses Black Locust logs for all of his playgrounds, using their natural curves and shapes to the advantage of the design of the piece, but also the structure.  When a tree grows into a curve or a fork, the tree is growing itself to withstand forces opposing those shapes, and so in building, when it’s possible to use the natural shape in the project, that strength that the tree grew will be applied to the built structure or object.  Many boatbuilders would use crotches or forks in parts of their boats because the grain of the wood makes that curve naturally, and so the strength in that piece of wood is used to strengthen the boat more than any handmade piece of wood could do.

Getting the outline right


Ripping a log in half for the walkway

Once we got the major members in place and tied together, we could start filling in with railings, stairs, the two mid-level decks, and eventually the ladders leading up into the various levels of the structure.

Two mid-level decks will get ladders and protective railings

Custom curving staircase and accompanying railing.

These stairs were fun to figure out and make.  Each piece had to be cut roughly to its final wedge shape, then the three compared to each other along the stringer, which was made up of two logs scarfed together, bolted, and then attached to the posts.  The three-log steps were then brought down with power planes to pretty much their final shape and sizes, attached to the stringer, and then finally leveled out with a big grinder, the edges broken, and the ends cut and smoothed.

The team makes the project.

The best part, the part that contributes most and shapes the project the most, is the team of people working.  I’m a very curious guy, and I’ll ask questions until you’re tired of me and leave!  But these two guys are patient, friendly, and love to chat when it’s something they know or are also curious about.  And the stories they can tell!  Great fun with your coworkers goes a long way toward making a crazy job like this one – in the full heat of New England summer with no shade – pretty fun.


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