How to build a pirate ship play structure

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to build a pirate ship play structure
Create a pirate ship play structure that will inspire a child's imagination. (pirate flottant au vent image by rachid amrous-spleen from

Bring the adventure of the high seas to your backyard by building a pirate play structure. You can use basic materials and tools to create a pirate ship for your children and their friends. Create a ship platform, mast, cannon, telescope and sandpit to inspire hours of imaginative play on this structure.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 3/4-by-48-by-96-inch plywood sheet
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Old car/truck tires, 4
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • Drill
  • 3/8-inch bolts, 16
  • 3/8-inch washers, 32
  • 3/8-inch nuts, 16
  • 3/8-inch wrench
  • 2-by-72-inch PVC pipe
  • 2 1/2-inch eye bolts, 2
  • Child's pirate flag
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • 2-inch hole saw bit
  • 2-inch pipe flange
  • Coated wood screws, 1 box
  • 10-by-36-inch PVC pipe
  • 1-by-24-inch PVC pipe
  • 1/4-by-24-inch rod
  • 2-by-10-by-36-inch boards, 2
  • 2-by-10-by-24-inch boards, 2
  • Sand
  • Exterior grade paint

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  1. 1

    Place the plywood sheet on a work surface. Draw the outline of a pirate ship onto the plywood. The ship should resemble a football shape. Use the full length and width of the plywood.

  2. 2

    Cut out the outline of the ship using a jigsaw. Follow along the line slowly while allowing the blade to cut through the wood. This is the ship platform. Sand the edge of the platform with sandpaper until it is smooth.

  3. 3

    Arrange the tires on the ground so that one tire can go under each endpoint of the ship and two tires can go in the centre on the sides of the ship. The tires should rest on their sides. They will sit under the ship platform to elevate it slightly from the ground. Place the ship platform on top of the tires.

  4. 4

    Drill four 3/8-inch holes evenly spaced through the platform where it rests upon each of the tires. The holes should continue down through the side wall of the tires. The holes will enable you to bolt the platform to the tires.

  5. 5

    Slide a washer onto each bolt. Slide each bolt through the hole in the platform and through the tire. Slide another washer onto each bolt and tighten a nut onto the end of each bolt.

  6. 6

    Drill two 1/4-inch holes through the 2-by-72-inch PVC pipe. This is the mast. Drill one hole approximately 6-inches down for one end and the other 18-inches down from the same end. These are the holes for the eye bolts. The eye bolts will provide a place to tie a flag onto the mast.

  7. 7

    Slide an eye bolt through each hole in the mast. Tighten the nuts onto the eye bolts. Tie the pirate flag to the eye bolts.

  8. 8

    Drill a 2-inch hole through the centre of the ship platform. This is the hole for the mast. Align the 2-inch pipe flange over the hole. Screw the flange to the ship platform. Slide the end of the mast that is opposite to the flag through the opening in the pipe flange to stand the mast upright.

  9. 9

    Drill a 1/4-inch hole through the front of the ship platform. Drill a 1/4-inch hole through the 10-by-36-inch PVC pipe approximately 12-inches from one end. Slide the metal rod through the hole in the platform. Slide the pipe onto the rod. This is the cannon for the ship.

  10. 10

    Drill a 1/4-inch hole through the centre of the 1-by-24-inch PVC pipe. This the telescope. Slide the telescope over the metal rod so that it rests on top of the cannon.

  11. 11

    Place the two 2-by-10-by-36-inch boards parallel to each other approximately 24-inches apart. Place one 2-by-10-by-24-inch board between each of the 36-inch boards to form a box. Screw the boards together with coated wood screws. Place the box over the mast and onto the ship platform. Position it so that the mast is in the centre of the box. Fill the box with sand.

  12. 12

    Paint the pirate ship with exterior-grade paint. Allow the finish to dry prior to use.

Tips and warnings

  • Add a pulley and rope to the mast to raise and lower sand buckets for added activities.
  • Wear eye protection when working with wood.

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