How to Build a Swing

Wood Swingset

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Overview
  • Working Time: 8 hrs
  • Total Time: 10 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $200 to $400

What child can resist a swing? And what better than to have a swing in your own backyard? Kids can amuse themselves for hours on this sturdy, all-wood swing. Plus, the thick, stained wood frame and the jute rope for the swings add a quaint, picturesque air to your yard.

Using just a few pieces of six-by-six lumber, jute rope, and several more fasteners and accessories, you and an assistant can build this swing in as little as one weekend day. This swing is about 7 feet, 3 inches high, 8 feet wide, and with a leg span of 7 feet.

Codes and Regulations

Building permits likely will not be required for your backyard swing but check with your local permitting agency. Safe building practices are observed with this project. If you live in a community controlled by a homeowner's association, you may need to seek permission from the board to erect the swing in your yard.

When to Build a Swing

It is always more comfortable to build outdoor projects such as this swing in the late spring to early fall months. However, nothing this swing's construction precludes you from building it in cold, snow, or other inclement weather. If you have a garage or other enclosed space, you can build the two side pieces inside, then move them outdoors later.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Speed Square
  • Circular saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Six-foot step ladder
  • Laser level or bubble level
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Hand saw (wood saw)
  • Saw horse
  • Set of wrenches
  • Long auger bit

Materials

  • 4 8-foot-long six-by-six ground-contact pressure-treated lumber
  • 1 8-foot-long four-by-six pressure-treated lumber
  • 5 8-foot-long two-by-four pressured-treated lumber
  • Wood stain
  • 40-foot jute or nylon rope
  • Wood swing seat
  • 3-inch lag bolts

Instructions

  1. Measure the Cut Marks on the Legs

    The four six-by-sixes require angle cuts on all eight ends for the swing to rest flat and secure on the ground.

    Lay one six-by-six on the ground with the long side facing you. With the Speed Square and the pencil, mark an angle on the left side of 64 degrees and on the right side an angle of 26 degrees. Lightly indicate with the pencil that from hereon, the left side is considered top (of the swing) and the right side the bottom.

    Make sure that the angles are measured using the long side of the six-by-six as the starting point of the angle.

  2. Wrap the Cut Marks

    Set one leg on a saw horse. With the pencil and Speed Square, wrap the previous pencil mark around on all four sides of the six-by-six. Do this by continuing the ends of the marks across two adjacent side at a 90-degree angle with the Speed Square and drawing the lines with the pencil. The angled mark on the opposite side should be a reverse mirror of your original angled mark.

  3. Cut the Leg Ends

    With the circular saw set to maximum depth, cut each of the four marks in succession since the saw does not cut deep enough to make the cut in one pass. A small connecting piece of wood at center will remain. Finish this cut with the hand saw.

    Repeat for the remaining three legs, using the first leg as a template.

  4. Add Lower Leg Bracing

    Lay two legs on a flat surface angled to each other. The top should form a 52-degree angle. The two tops should be 3 1/2 inches apart. Using the four-by-six is a convenient way to hold them separate from each other. Lay a two-by-four roughly 1 foot above the bottoms of the legs (as if the swing were upright) and rest it on the six-by-sixes. Bolt it into place with 3-inch lag bolts and washers, two per leg. Drill a pilot hole for each bolt.

  5. Add Upper Leg Bracing

    Similar to the lower leg brace, add a shorter upper leg brace 5 1/2 inches from the top. Use a 24-inch-long two-by-four. Bolt into place as you did with the lower brace.

    With an assistant, turn the leg assembly upside-down and lop off the excess material with the hand saw.

  6. Repeat Leg Braces on Other Side

    Both the lower and upper leg brace should be duplicated on the other side of the leg assembly.

    Once complete, duplicate all leg braces for the other leg assembly.

  7. Put Into Position

    With help, move the leg assemblies to the site. Position them 7 feet from each other. With the level, make sure that they are level to the ground and plumb. Hold them temporarily in position by nailing two scrap 8-foot two-by-fours onto the legs, nail heads protruding for easier removal.

  8. Notch Tops, Bolt Into Place

    With the circular saw, notch out sections at the tops of the legs, 2 inches down. The sections should be 90-degree cutouts that provide flat surfaces for the bolts' heads to rest.

    Place the 8-foot-long four-by-six across the top. Drill pilot holes, then drive 3-inch lag bolts and washers (two per leg) through the legs and into the four-by-six.

  9. Add the Swing Seats

    Access the top of the cross beam with the stepladder and drill four vertical holes with the auger bit. Thread the swing ropes up through the bottom and create several knots at top to prevent the ropes from slipping through.

    Knock off the temporary braces with the hammer.