Few things beat the relaxation of sitting back in the shade passing a cool spring evening in a porch swing. For those who have some basic power tools and skills to use them, here are the steps to building your own wooden swing.
- Determine the appropriate size for your swing. This includes the overall width, which may require locating the centers of porch ceiling joists to give optimum anchoring locations, but also will require you consider how deep the seat will be, and how tall you prefer the back.
- Choose the materials you will use for building your swing. This article describes building with treated southern yellow pine, but cedar, fir, cypress, juniper, or even birch will work equally well, so long as the thickness of the components are adjusted so they are strong enough to support the weight it will carry.
- Gather all the tools, fasteners, and lumber you need for the project. Here is the list broken down by type, see Things you will need for dimensions and sizes.
- Tools: circular saw, jigsaw, hammer, tape measure, square, and drill with bits.
- Fasteners: wood screws, eye bolts.
- Lumber:15-1X4 (50 × 100 mm) by Ten foot (2.4m) boards.
- Set a table up to work on. The illustrations show a pair of metal sawhorses with a sheet of plywood as a make-shift table, but any flat surface that provides a workspace at a comfortable working height will do.
- Measure 7 2X4 boards the length you will want the finished swing to be. The one used as an example here is 5 feet long. Cut these boards to length, being careful to make all cuts square (90 degrees).
- Set blocks on the table to support the boards, then attach a stop for keeping them from sliding while you rip them to width. The seat slats are 3/4 inch (1.9cm) thick, the back slats (which support less weight) are 1/2 inch (1.25cm). For a seat 20 inches (51cm) deep, you will need about 17 slats, for a back 18 inches (45cm) tall, you will need 15.
- Rip the number of slats of each width you will need, depending again on the height of the back and width of the seat you choose to build. Again, the illustrations show a swing 20 deep and 18 inches tall, which is comfortable for a fairly tall individual, but may not be as comfortable for a person with shorter legs.
- Drill through each strip one inch (2.5cm) from each end with a 3/16 drill bit to keep the wood screws that will attach them from causing the strip to split. Drilling for the center support is optional, depending on how hard the lumber you choose to use is.
- Mark a pattern with a curved edge, rounded over then curving back out of a 2X6 board, similar to the one in the picture. The amount of curve depends on your preference, the seat and back can actually be straight if you prefer.
- Carefully cut three identical pieces of the curved back and seat boards with a jigsaw, leaving the narrow end a bit long for trimming to fit the joints together.
- Cut a miter at the ends of the back and the seat board so they join at the correct angle for the amount of slant (recline) you want your seat to have. You can start by cutting a 45 degree angle on either piece, then lay it on top of the opposite piece, and judge the amount of angle you want. Mark the angle by scribing to the piece previously cut on a 45 degree angle. The length of the two angles will probably not be the same, but it won’t matter, since they are on the bottom rear of the swing, out of sight.
- Drill pilot holes for the screws which will join the seat and back boards together, then fasten them with 3 1/2 inch, #12 gold plated wood screws. This is a critical connection, since the screws are the only support for this joint, and it will have a good bit of pressure in it, so depending on the length of the joint, use two screws set at opposing angles and tightened securely.
- Set the three completed frame (connected back and seat) pieces on your table, and lay the strips of wood you ripped earlier across them. Screw the ends to the outside frames, then center the middle one and fasten it, also. It may be easiest to attach one strip to the rear of the seat first, then another at the front edge, lastly attaching one at the top of the back.
- Use a framing square to check the angle of the back and seat to make sure it is square, and rack (shift sideways) it if needed. Space additional strips across the seat, leaving a 1/4 to 3/8 inch (6 – 9.5mm) space between them. You can tack these temporarily or go ahead and fasten them securely, but you may find it necessary to adjust them to get your spacing to work out uniformly. Take note that you are using the thicker (3/4 inch, 19mm) strips for the seat, and the 1/2 inch (13mm) strips for the back.
- Cut a wedge shaped 2X4 board about 13 inches (33cm) long, tapered from 2 3/4 inches (7mm) on one end to 3/4 inch (19mm) on the other for each (two) armrest support, then cut another board 22 inches (56cm) long, tapered on one end from 1 1/2 inches (3.8cm) to full width in 10 inches (25.4cm) for each armrest itself. Generally, the armrest will be about 8 inches (20cm) high, and 18-20 inches (approx. half a meter) long.
- Locate the height you want the armrest on the back frame, and locate the position you want the support on the seat portion of the frame, and attach these with 3 inch (7.5cm) #12 wood screws. Fasten through the top of the armrest down into the support board with two more wood screws.
- Drill a hole through the armrest support and the seat frame for the eyebolt that will attach your swing chain to the swing, and drill through the back frame for another eyebolt for the back chain. Install your eyebolts, using washers to keep the nuts from drawing into the wood frame, and tighten them with a wrench.
- Locate the position and height you will install your swing, install eyebolts or eyescrews for the overhead connection, and measure the length you will need your chains to hang your swing. You may find you need to adjust the chains to get the swing tilted back the proper amount to be comfortable for you.
- Sand any edges smooth to prevent splinters or other injuries which may occur from the wood.
- Curve any edges that may need it to prevent children from bumping into them and injuring themselves.
- Finish with an exterior coating such as polyurethane or paint to make your swing look better and last longer.
- Use galvanized or coated fasteners to prevent corrosion. Galvanized fasteners are not recommended for cedar wood, however.
- Consider making the length of your planks 8 feet when you buy them. Typically, 8 foot lumber is least expensive, and scrap may be used for other projects.
- Use safety precautions when operating power tools.
- Connections must be secure for safe use of the finished swing.
- Never let small children play on this swing unattended, they may fall off, and it may swing into them.
Things You’ll Need
- Fifteen 1×4 boards as long as the width of your swing
- One 2×6 board, 8 feet long
- 30 (approximately) 3 or 3 1/2 inch, number 12 gold plated screws
- 180 (approximately) 2 inch, number 8 or 10 gold plated wood screws
- Two 3/8 inch by 3 inch galvanized eye bolts with nuts and washers
- Two 3/8 inch by 2 inch galvanized eye bolts
- Length of chain (3/16 inch) to hang swing
- Power tools and hand tools described in project steps
- How to Make a Swing
- How to Make a Rope Swing
- How to Make a Desk Chair from a Car Seat
- How to Build a Kitchen Table
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