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I am building a tower style tree house and have a perfect tree with a notch to act as one of the 4 support posts. The other three posts will be 4x4s with cement footers. I was thinking of resting a cross beam on the notch of the tree where two limbs branch off. I saw something online about saving the tree by using rope instead of nails and envisioned figure eighting the rope around the beam and branches of the v. I'm concerned this will strangle the tree as it grows. What is the best way to use the tree for a beam support without causing damage?

  • Rope is not always an improvement over driving a fastener directly into the wood. There are a number of good books on ways to mount treehouses with minimum damage to the tree; I'd strongly suggest checking into those since they will give you better advice and more alternatives than I could. – keshlam Jan 2 '15 at 0:12
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You certainly won't want to just sit the beam in the fork of the tree. The tree will move quite a bit and you'd slowly wear through the bark and damage the tree if you do that. Also note that forks aren't always the strongest part of the tree.

What you want to do is have the beam mounted to the tree with hardware that a) allows for lateral movement and b) is offset from the surface of the mark.

They make special hardware just for this. It's typically a huge lag bolt with a spacer than the beam 'rides' in via a slip bracket. Example:

enter image description here

source: http://www.treehousesupplies.com/1_25_Floating_Bracket_p/br-f1.25.htm

  • Would an inverted half cut tire on the tree crotch alleviate your concern of tree damage? – statHacker Jan 5 '15 at 12:20
  • @statHacker you could try it. My concern with that is that a tire has a lot of friction and I don't know that it'd let the beam smoothly move back and forth over it. – DA01 Jan 5 '15 at 14:36
  • Do you think the beam not being able to move smoothly would cause a great deal of forces on the rest of the treehouse? So by using the tire we increase protection of the tree but also increase the risk of the treehouse falling down earlier in its lifespan? – statHacker Jan 5 '15 at 18:32
  • @statHacker trees are meant to move. Restricting their movement can add undue stress to other parts. It's not the treehouse so much as the tree I'd be worried about. Today's treehouse hardware is all designed to ensure the tree can move freely (which, in turn, will help avoid transfer of stresses to the tree house as well). – DA01 Jan 5 '15 at 19:08

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