Building your own Swing Set: The Essentials

Buying a ready-made swing set may be the easiest way to install your swing for your children, many prefer to create their own. Metal swing sets can rust and deteriorate over the years, but a solidly constructed wooden swing set will last for decades – and there’s something to be said for the satisfaction you receive from creating something with your own hands, especially for your own children’s enjoyment.

If you’re keen to build your own, here’s our easy-to-follow guide to the basic, including all of the essential tools and materials you’ll need to get the job done.

Essentials:

Ready mix mortar:

  • If your ground is particularly soft, you may want to cement in your swing set for added stability. Ready mix mortar is the least expensive way to create a solidly bedded-in swing set, and you can purchase this cheaply from online specialists Wickes, who currently offer 25% off ready mix mortar when buying in bulk

Treated lumber:

One 12’ 1 by 6, or two 6’ 1 by 6

  • Four 10’ 4 by 4s
  • One 12’ 4 by 4

Eight 6” eyebolts and nuts

Sixteen 6” bolts and nuts

Ratchet with socket to fit bolts

Four steel braces

Four swings with chain ready-attached

Eight steel “S” hooks

Four trapezoid steel brackets

Forty-eight 3” nails

A drill

A pair of pliers

A hammer

An extra pair of hands!

Construction:

First you’ll need lumber to provide stability between the upright legs of your swing set. Use your two 6’ 1 by 6s, or halve your 12’ 1 by 6 lumber for this purpose.

  • Your 12’ 4 by 4 will be your main beam, so drill eight holes along the beam, where you will position the eyebolts to attach the swings. Your first and last bolts should be about 17” from the end of the beam, with a 17” gap between each bolt.
  • Next, drill two holes in each upright and in the side of the main beam. This is where you will position the steel braces in order to securely fix the main beam to the upright leg. Lay the steel braces on the wood first then use a permanent marker to mark out where your holes need to go.
  • Fix your eight 6” eyebolts into the main beam, using washers to protect the beam from the bolt pressure. Position your eyebolts with the eye on the bottom, from which to hang the swings.
  • Your upright legs will be the two 10” 4 by 4s. Lay these on the ground at a 45 degree angle then lay the steel trapezoid brackets on the leg ends and adjust the angle so the bracket doesn’t overhang. Attach your brackets using 3” nails, flip the upright legs and attach brackets to the other side.
  • To stabilise the upright legs, lay your 6’ 1 by 6 across the legs at a point where it fits without much overhang. Attach this support board to each leg using 3” nails.
  • Now it’s time to attach the steel braces. Bolt a steel brace to the main beam using two 6” bolts in the holes you drilled earlier, making sure to use nuts and washers for each. Do the same at the other end of the beam then flip it over to attach steel braces to both ends on the other side.
  • Now fix your upright legs into place with the main beam by bolting the other end of the steel brace to the legs. Use two 6” bolts with nuts and washers, repeating on both sides and both ends.
  • Now your swing set will be able to stand upright, where you can attach the “S” hooks to the eyebolts you installed earlier. Next hang your swing chains from the “S” hooks, using pliers to tighten the hooks to prevent the chains from unhooking.
  • You can now cement in your swing set now, or if the ground is hard enough, simply use tyres to weight down the swing set, making sure you drill some drainage holes into the tyres first.
  • You’re all done and ready to swing!

Seesaw Fun: How To Make a Seesaw

Have a couple of kids? Or just the kid in you is still alive? Seesaw is a special swing set that can only be used by two kids at a time – no more, no less. I remember we had some of these in the kindergarden. They were built of steel pipes and had a plastic seat over the main metal pipe. This was really robust. If you want to build a seesaw yourself it’s unlikely you’ll be able to work easily with such steel pipes. So, you may prefer to build one out of wood. Here is how:

Seesaw at Evelle

The design I’m giving below is very similar seesaw on the picture above. But we’ll use a regular flat beam because it’s easier to find such one. But first here is materials list along with their approximate costs.

Materials

  • One 4″ x 6″ 14ft (4 m) long beam. Approx. cost $50 – $150. This is the most costly item. It is the main and most important part of your seesaw.
  • One 3″ x 4″ 10ft beam – hopefully you can find one for under $50. It can be even shorter as you’ll use it only for the holders.
  • One 10″ x 8″ steel plate – 4mm thick. This may be available for less than $10 at a local hardware store.
  • One black steel pipe 1/2″ or 3/4″ like this – $12 or so.
  • A hinge or curved metal plate that will help attaching the spike to the plank and all this to the beam – will cost a buck or two.
  • 3 ft wooden plank or something similar for the seats – $3-$4.
  • A couple of used tears or anything else that can go under the seesaw ends to prevent hitting the ground directly.
  • Nails, screws, varnish, paint
Seesaw plan

Click on the plan image to see the legend and more details

Building Steps

  1. Cut 8ft / 2.5 m piece out of the 4″ x 6″ beam. This will be the main part of the seesaw.
  2. The rest will be cut on two equal parts and used to anchor the seesaw to the ground. You should be left with two pieces of about 3ft each.
  3. Dig 15″ deep holes in the ground. The vertical supports from the previous step will go here. If the ground is soft you may have to pout concrete and/or gravel. The two holes should be about 12″ apart. A bit more is OK, less is not. Make them stand up equally from the ground.
  4. This construction will hold the entire weight of the seesaw so it must be really stable. If the two pieces of the beam are unstable you should fix them with angular steel plates or lay out an entire concrete foundation under them. See more info on anchoring swings.
  5. Measure 4ft from the center, on each side, dig holes and place the used tires there in the ground.
  6. Drill holes in the vertical support beams large enough to put the steel pipe inside.
  7. Before putting the pipe find the middle of the main seesaw beam and attach the steel plan there. Then on top of it install the curved plate or hinge using screws.
  8. Now insert the pipe so it connects the three parts – the left beam, the main seesaw beam, and the right beam. The pipe should go through the opening in the hinge/curved plate.
  9. Now (or this can be done before) you can attach the holders and seats on both ends of the seesaw.
  10. Painting and finishing can be done at the end. Painting is not required but some water-resistant finish will be good so your wooden seesaw can last longer.

Done? Wait a day or two for the varnish to dry and you can use the seesaw.

Here is the plan also in PDF format. You can download and print it on paper.

Anything unclear? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to explain.

Better ideas? Share them in the comments.

 


« Previous Entries


Warning: mkdir(): Permission denied in /home/aboutswingsets/htdocs/wp-content/advanced-cache.php on line 921

Warning: mkdir(): Permission denied in /home/aboutswingsets/htdocs/wp-content/advanced-cache.php on line 924

Fatal error: Uncaught exception 'Exception' with message 'Cache directory not writable. Quick Cache needs this directory please: `/home/aboutswingsets/htdocs/wp-content/cache/quick-cache/cache/http/aboutswingsets-com/topics`. Set permissions to `755` or higher; `777` might be needed in some cases.' in /home/aboutswingsets/htdocs/wp-content/advanced-cache.php:926 Stack trace: #0 [internal function]: quick_cache\advanced_cache->output_buffer_callback_handler('<!DOCTYPE html ...', 9) #1 /home/aboutswingsets/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php(2980): ob_end_flush() #2 [internal function]: wp_ob_end_flush_all('') #3 /home/aboutswingsets/htdocs/wp-includes/plugin.php(470): call_user_func_array('wp_ob_end_flush...', Array) #4 /home/aboutswingsets/htdocs/wp-includes/load.php(573): do_action('shutdown') #5 [internal function]: shutdown_action_hook() #6 {main} thrown in /home/aboutswingsets/htdocs/wp-content/advanced-cache.php on line 926