Easy instructions on how to build a snow fort - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Easy instructions on how to build a snow fort

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By Bill Washburn

Now is the perfect time to start building the ultimate snow fort with the kids. Building a snow fort is a great opportunity for spending quality time with your children and teaching them basic construction techniques. And, it can provide hours, or days, of outdoor fun for the entire family. Here's how to quickly get started with this outdoor project.

Location And Outlines

To build a decent sized snow fort you will need an easily accessible snow drift, or a foot or more of available snow. If snow is scarce, you may want to consider shoveling the driveway or walkways to mound up a sufficient volume of snow. Failing that, enlist the help of neighborhood kids and a wheelbarrow to help gather and transport snow.

Start construction by tracing the snow fort's outline in the snow with a stick or shovel. Using two sticks and a piece of string will help mark straight lines for the outer walls.

Make your new snow fort large enough for several children and their friends to comfortably move around inside.

If there is not enough snow available, consider building one high front wall and shorter side and back walls for the fort. Having one high front wall provides better protection during snowball fights.

Another alternative is to build the snow fort against a garage wall or house wall, far away from windows, to serve as the fort's back wall. Be sure to allow enough extra space inside the fort for your arsenal of snowballs.

Making Snow Bricks

Scrape the snow off the floor of your fort up to the fort's outline.

Start making snow bricks for the walls. A picnic cooler works fine as a mold for the snow bricks. Fill the cooler with snow and press the snow down to condense the snow bricks. Turn the cooler upside down to release the snow brick.

If your helpers are smaller kids, consider using a smaller rectangular plastic container for lighter and easier to move snow bricks.

Line up the first row of snow bricks along your outline for the fort. Fill any gaps between the bricks with well packed snow.

Stack the next layer on top and stagger the vertical joints like a brick wall to make the sides stronger. Snow bricks can easily be cut using a flat bottom shovel or even your hands. Leave an opening in a side or back wall for easy entrance to the fort.

Continue stacking the snow bricks to a height of about four feet. This will provide ample cover for kids or a crouching adult during a snowball fight. Don't build much higher than four feet. Snow bricks tend to be less stable on higher walls.

Adding Tunnels And Turrets Adding a round or square turret can change a boring snow fort into an imaginary castle or pirate fort. Little details can make a tremendous difference to snow forts. Tunnels and turrets can be added by chamfering the vertical edges of the snow bricks and laying them in an arc. Use a string and a stick to make a circular arc where you want a turret located. Then, start stacking snow bricks to build up the turret. Stagger the vertical joints just like the walls for stronger joints. Tunnels can be made the same way. But you will chamfer the top and bottom edge of the snow bricks instead of the side edges and slowly build the inclined rows until the top is enclosed. Another wall detail that is easy to add is crenellations, the saw tooth gaps and solid blocks on top of a castle wall. They can be made with half blocks of snow bricks to add another exciting detail to your snow fort.

Finishing Your Snow Fort

After you have built the walls and filled all the gaps, use a flat bottom shovel and finish trimming the inside walls to make them vertical. Then, trim the outside walls to form an inclined surface, thinner at the top and thicker at the bottom.

After the fort is completed, sprinkle all the exterior walls with water using a bucket or a garden hose. This will ice the walls up and turn the snow walls into harder and more durable ice walls.

Stocking your fort with snowballs is the final step. Now you're prepared for days of fun and a snowball war.

This article was originally posted on IdealHomeGarden.com

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