Hot Outdoor Projects

Hot Outdoor Projects

The days are long and you’ve got more time to work and play outside. Here are 10 of our favorite builds to liven up your summer.


Backyard Climbing Wall

With a little creativity and some expert advice, putting up a home climbing wall can be a family project and a way to stay fit. Start with a frame and add a plywood face, embedded with T-nuts. You can buy holds from climbing supply stores, but you can also mold your own from sand and polyester resin. Don’t forget the crash pads!



Camping Silverware Holder

Great for camping trips or to carry tools, this fabric holder easily rolls up for packing.



Pedal-Powered Phone Charger

With an old AC generator, a rectifier, and a voltage regulator, you can easily rig up a mobile charging station that transforms your momentum into juice for your phone. Inside a small enclosure, the rectifier converts the AC to DC, and the regulator dials it back to a mobile device-appropriate voltage.



Hands-Free Water Station

Use gravity to wash your hands — suspend a jug of water from a tree.



Backyard Zip Line

Why buy a dinky, ready-made kids’ kit when you can make your own industrial-strength zip line that will support the heaviest of adults? With galvanized aircraft-quality cable, a two-wheel zip pulley, and a few other parts, you can tackle this high-flying tree-to-tree transporter in a weekend.



Wood Gas Camp Stove

This elegantly simple gasifier design is called a TLUD stove (for top-lit updraft), or inverted downdraft stove. Built around a 1-quart paint can, it boils enough water for a small pot of tea or bowl of noodles, using scrap wood as fuel.



Astronaut Ice Cream

At very low temperature and pressure, the ice crystals in the dessert convert directly to vapor without melting into water, leaving behind a sweet, weirdly crunchy treat. Build a freeze-drying rig using a vacuum pump and a cold-trap made from copper pipe and an insulated flask, and you can make the famous snack for your next backpacking trip.



DIY Baseball Tees

Batting tees are a great tool for hitting practice. Make your own adjustable, durable tees out of PVC, dishwasher hose, plywood, and floor flanges for half the price you’d pay in the store.



Regulation Cornhole Set

This corn-bag toss game is safer than horseshoes, and it’s an easy woodworking project for the whole family. All you need are two platforms and eight bags, but the American Cornhole Association (yep!) has strict regulations for dimensions, so follow their guidelines ( to keep your set official. and



$4 Hot Air Balloon

Fashion a balloon out of plastic drop cloths, Scotch tape, and coat hangers — and float it with an improvised burner. The envelope encloses roughly 230 cubic feet, weighs 15oz, and can lift another 15oz in payload when thoroughly heated. Unladen, these balloons have lots of extra lift for a rapid climb and a long flight.


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Nathan Hurst is an editor at Make. He loves anything having to do with science or bicycling. He tweets as @nathanbhurst.

View more articles by Nathan Hurst


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