How to Make a Tree Swing

Get out and play with these easy instructions for making your very own tree swing. (Tree not included.)

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mick Telkamp

DIY Tree Swing

Kids will get endless enjoyment out of an at-home tree swing. A tree swing is also a great way to encourage little ones to spend more time outside. The best part? It can be made in an afternoon.

You Will Need:

One 2” x 8” plank Southern yellow pine \ 1 quart outdoor enamel paint \ one 5/8” braided polypropylene rope (two times limb height + 5 feet in length) \ two 1/4” galvanized or stainless steel chains (branch circumference + 3” in length) \ two 5/16” galvanized or stainless steel anchor shackles with screw pin \ two 5/8” fender washers \ miter saw (or handsaw) \ jigsaw (or handsaw) \ drill with 5/8” bit \ belt sander, rotary sander or sandpaper \ paintbrush \ ladder \ measuring tape \ utility knife \ lighter \ spirit level

Step 1: Select a Tree

Find a tree that is healthy and clear of obstructions such as bushes, structures or other trees. Select a branch at least 8 inches in diameter, growing roughly parallel to the ground at a height of 10 to 15 feet. A swing attached to a branch higher than 15 feet will result in a greater swinging arc unsafe for children.

Step 2: Cut the Seat

Using a miter or hand saw, cut a length of 20 inches from a 2" x 8" plank of Southern yellow pine or other dense hardwood (like oak or maple). Do not use softer woods, which are less durable and more likely to split under stress.

Step 3: Shape the Seat

Using the bottom of a quart-sized paint can as a template, mark the corners of the seat to rounded edges and cut using a jigsaw or hand saw.

Step 4: Sand the Seat

Using a belt sander, rotary sander or sandpaper, sand all surfaces and edges of the seat until smooth.

Step 5: Drill Holes for Rope

Using a power drill with a 5/8” drill bit, drill a hole at each end of the seat 1 inch from the end and centered between the long edges.

Step 6: Paint

Apply 2 to 3 even coats of outdoor enamel paint to the seat. Make sure the inside of drilled holes are thoroughly coated (use a Q-tip, if necessary).

Step 7: Attach Chains

Making sure your ladder is stable before climbing, attach chains to selected branch using anchor shackles. Chains should be spaced 20 inches apart and at least 3 feet from the trunk of the tree. Chains can be cut to length at the hardware store or using bolt cutters on site. A few extra links ensure that the chain may be resized as the tree grows. Using chains to attach the swing to the branch reduces rope stress and makes it easy to relocate to a new branch without additional expense.

Step 8: Attach Rope to Anchor Shackles

Using a figure 8 follow-through knot, tie an end of the rope to each of the anchor shackles. The center of the rope should touch the ground.

Step 9: Set Anchors

From the ground, tug on rope to ensure knots are set and chains do not wander.

Step 10: Cut Rope

Locate the center of the rope and cut using a utility knife.

Step 11: Seal Ends of Rope

Braided polypropylene rope is less slippery than twisted rope and should last for many years. Once cut, use a lighter to melt the ends of the rope to prevent fraying.

Step 12: Attach Seat

Thread the rope through the holes in each end of the seat and washers underneath. Loosely tie a simple knot in each rope to hang roughly 2 feet from the ground.

Step 13: Measure Height

Using a measuring tape, adjust knots so that the seat hangs level at a height of 2 feet. Once in use, swing will hang 2-3 inches lower than this measurement.

Step 14: Level Swing

Use a spirit level to make sure seat hangs evenly. Adjust and tighten knots. Trim excess rope, leaving 2 inches to allow for future adjustments.

Step 15: Go for a Spin

Your swing is ready for action! The first ride is yours, not just because you’ve earned it, but because your weight will set the knots beneath the seat and ensure the swing is stable. Do not allow anxious children on board until you are confident the swing is sturdy and knots are completely set.

Ready to Ride!

Children under the age of 12 should be supervised when swinging and instructed on the importance of keeping both hands on the ropes at all times. This strong and reliable swing should last many years without maintenance but regular inspection by an adult is recommended.

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