How do I Build a Swing?

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  • Written By: Patrick Roland
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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With little more than a piece of wood, some rope, and a tree, anyone can build a swing. This classic childhood treat can transform any backyard into a playground. By following a few simple steps, kids and adults alike can join in on the fun.

While it takes no special training to build a swing, good materials should not be overlooked. High quality components not only assure safety, but also provide longevity for generations of enjoyment. Its two main pieces, rope and wood, can be inexpensively purchased at most hardware stores.

A strong piece of wood is a must to build a swing. Redwood and cedar are popular choices because they are strong and easy to work with. Dense woods like oak will be difficult to drill, but may actually last longer. If in doubt about the wood selection, consult the your hardware store's expert.

While at the hardware store, also choose a strong rope to make a swing. Traditional rope is not recommended since it weathers quickly and may snap. Instead, choose approximately 50 feet (15.24 m) of heavily braided nylon or Dacron®/polyester rope. Cut this into two equal lengths to provide for both sides of the swing.


Cut a length of wood that is approximately 18 inches (45.72 cm) long and 8 inches (20.32 cm) wide. This size should accommodate most children and adult riders. An ideal seat is at least 2 inches (5 cm) thick to prevent premature breakage. In order to build a swing with balance, drill four 0.5-inch (1.27 cm) holes approximately 1 inch (2.54 cm) from the side and 2 inches (5 cm) away from the back and front sides.

Tree selection is just as important as material selection when building a swing. A sturdy, well-aged tree like an oak or a maple are best, but if that is not an option, simply locate a tree with the thickest branches. The ideal branch should be as close to level as possible and approximately 8 inches (20.32 cm) in diameter. Also, choose a branch that is more than 10 feet (3 m) from the ground in order to provide enough clearance.

A tall ladder will also help you when you build a swing. Climb up to the chosen branch and secure each section of rope, wrapping it around the limb at least twice and tying a knot so it does not slide. Run each of the four rope ends through its corresponding hole on the seat. Tie sturdy knots on the bottom side so the swing is level and at least 3 feet (0.91 m) off the ground. Carefully take a test ride on the swing to ensure it can hold your weight, and enjoy swinging.


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