How to Build a Porch Swing
It's easy to imagine wiling away a summer afternoon or an early evening on your own porch swing. With a glass of wine, you'll enjoy chatting with passing neighbors or watching your children as they play on the lawn. Building a porch swing often can be a difficult project that requires fine woodworking skills—but not with this project. Here, the focus is on simplicity, with a spare design that takes you from the home center to completion in only a few hours. This compact porch swing requires only a minimal quantity of lumber, allowing you to purchase higher-grade maple or oak lumber. At the same time, this porch swing is generous enough in size—and strong enough—that two people can sit side-by-side.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Electric miter saw
- Cordless drill
- Set of drill bits and drivers
- Wood glue
- Wood stain
- Clutch-style wood clamp
- Polyurethane, oil-based
- 3 8-foot hardwood one-by-fours
- 4 8-foot hardwood two-by-twos
- 32 1-1/4-inch wood screws
- 32 1 1/2-inch wood screws
- 8 3-inch corner braces
- 1 porch swing chain kit
Cut the Wood for the Side Pieces
Create two sections to form the side pieces of the swing. These sections provide a great deal of structural support for the swing, plus they have multiple functions. Not only do the side pieces form the arms, but they also act as support points for the seat slats and for the chains.
With the electric miter saw cut, cut:
- 2 24-inch pieces of two-by-two
- 8 14-inch pieces of two-by-two
Dry-Fit the Side Pieces
Each side piece will consist of four pieces of wood. Dry-fit the four pieces for a general idea of how they will look when assembled and to confirm that all of the cuts are correct. An assembled side piece can be viewed as resembling that of a chair silhouette or an inverted letter "P". For each side piece:
- The 24-inch long vertical two-by-two will help to form the back.
- A 14-inch long two-by-two will extend horizontally to form an arm.
- Another 14-inch long vertical two-by-two will connect to the bottom of an arm, near the front.
- A 14-inch long horizontal two-by-two will act as a support to hold the seat slats.
Assemble the Side Pieces
Create a side piece with the wood from the previous step and with four of the 3-inch corner braces. While the outer profile of the side piece is that of a chair or an upside-down "P", the inner part forms a square that will be held together with the four braces.
Assemble the side piece by creating pilot holes, then driving 1 1/4-inch screws through the holes in the braces, into the wood. Adding wood glue increases the strength of the assembly. After you have completed one side piece, build a duplicate second side piece.
Cut Slats for the Seat and Back
With the electric miter saw, cut each of the 8-foot one-by-fours in half, resulting in six one-by-fours, each 4 feet long. Three boards will be used for the seat and two boards will be used for the back, with one extra board remaining. Alternatively, you may wish to add the remaining board to the back.
Add Seat Slat Connection Points to the Side Pieces
The seat slats will run through and be supported by the side pieces. However, the metal corner braces mean that it is not possible to drive screws to secure the seat slats. To solve this, add one 14-inch two-by-two alongside the bottom of each side piece. Make sure that you add these on what will eventually become the inside of the swing so that they are not visible.
Add the Back Slats
Use six screws per slat—three on each side—in order to connect the two slats to the two side piece. This will form the back of the porch swing. Drill pilot holes first, then drive 1 1/4-inch screws to secure each slat.
Add the Seat Slats
Similar to the step with the back slats, add the three seat slats to the side pieces. When driving the screws, make sure that you drive the screw into the side receiving board and not the board with the metal braces.
Add the Porch Chain Kit
Rather than purchasing the porch swing chain and hardware piecemeal, it is easier and usually less expensive to buy an all-in-one porch swing chain kit. Drive appropriately sized holes for the eyehooks, then turn the eyehooks into the wood. Either use the wrench or you can insert a screwdriver into the hook's "eye" and turn it that way. Install the included eyehooks to a strong part of your porch ceiling, such as a ceiling rafter, a two-by-four, or a four-by-four beam.
Stain and Finish the Porch Swing
Remove the porch swing from the chains and place it in a garage, woodshop, or other well-ventilated, warm place suited for applying stain and polyurethane coating. After staining, spray with oil-based polyurethane coating. Apply at least two coats, allowing two hours or more between each coat. Oil-based polyurethane takes much longer to cure than does water-based polyurethane.