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How to Build a Wooden Kids' Swing Set

You need just basic woodworking tools and lumber to construct our updated version of a classic kids' swing set.

Brian Patrick Flynn, Decor Demon

Materials Needed:

  • 3" exterior screws
  • 8' pressure-treated pine 2x6
  • (4) 8' pressure-treated pine 4x4s
  • (4) 12" lag bolts
  • 4 galvanized fender washers
  • 12' pressure-treated 2x4 pine plank
  • 4 exterior lag eye screws
  • drill fitted with 1" paddle bit
  • measuring tape
  • landscape-marking spray paint
  • shovel
  • 10 bags fast-setting cement
  • cement mixing tub
  • pencil
  • miter saw
  • adjustable wrench
  • speed square
  • torpedo level
  • hammer
  • screw swing hardware with bushing
  • orbital sander and sanding pads
  • exterior paint
  • roller handle and cover
  • paint pan
  • painter's tape
  • spool of heavy-duty nylon rope
  • utility knife

Lay Out Crossbeam and Add Stakes

The swing set structure is made up of four vertical support beams (4x4 pressure-treated pine) and one horizontal crossbeam (2x6 pressure-treated pine). To determine best location for swing set, lay crossbeam directly on ground, repositioning until it's in the perfect spot then mark each end of the crossbeam on the ground with wooden stakes and a hammer.

Mark and Dig Holes

The vertical support beams must be anchored in cement. In order to do this, first use measuring tape and landscape-marking spray paint to mark a 3-foot by 1-foot rectangle on the ground, centered around the location for each beam (Image 1). Next, referring to the spray-painted marks, dig a 1-1/2-foot deep hole for each beam (Images 2 and 3).

Miter Top Ends of Vertical Posts

Once postholes have been dug, it's time to start cutting all wood to size. Use speed square and pencil to mark a 45-degree angle on the tops of all four vertical 4x4 posts, then cut with circular saw (Images 1 and 2). Tip: This mitered edge is not only decorative, it will also help with water runoff, reducing the chances of wood deterioration.

Cut and Attach Footers

To keep vertical posts perfectly level and evenly spaced, footers need to be cut and attached to the bottom of the coupled 4x4s. To create footers, first cut a 4x4 block that's approximately four inches tall. Place the 4x4 block between the two vertical support posts, evenly spacing them (Image 1). Next, use a chop saw to cut four 2x4s which will become two sets of footers, one for use on each pair of vertical posts. Use a speed square to ensure 2x4s sit perfectly level (Image 2). Next, remove the 4x4 block, then secure footers to vertical support posts with 3-inch exterior screws using drill (Image 3).

Drill Hole Through Crossbeam to Vertical Posts

With vertical posts laid flat on ground in proper position, and with speed square in place (Image 1), sandwich crossbeam between each pair of 4x4s of vertical posts, tapping them into place with hammer. Tip: Proper spacing is extra important in relation to a level installation; taking extra time now to make sure everything is level will save you time later on. Measure and mark the height of the 6x4 crossbeam directly onto the face of the 4x4 with pencil. Use drill and paddle bit to create a hole through both 4x4s and the 6x4 crossbeam (Image 2).

Attach Lag Bolts

Use an adjustable wrench to tightly fasten lag bolts and fender washers through 6x4s and 4x4s (Images 1 and 2).

Turn Structure Upright and Check for Level

With the help of two or three friends, lift structure then slide into dug holes (Image 1). Use torpedo level to ensure cross brace is level with ground (Image 2). Tip: If not level, attach scrap 2x4s to bottom of vertical posts, shifting placement until perfectly level, then secure with exterior screws using drill.

Pour, Mix and Shovel Cement

Pour bags of cement into mixing tub (Image 1). Next, add water and mix using shovel. Once liquefied, use shovel to fill each of the two holes with cement (Image 2).

Ensure Level Crossbeam

Once cement has fully dried around each of the vertical posts, place level on top of crossbeam to ensure a perfectly level fit.

Measure, Mark and Cut Swing Seats

Using measuring tape and pencil, mark 2x4 pine planks to standard seat width which is 18-20 inches (Image 1). Cut swing seat to size using circular saw (Image 2)

Attach Exterior Lag Eye Screws to Swing Seat

Use measuring tape and pencil to measure and mark placement of exterior lag eye screws along swing seats. The lag eye screws should be inset one inch from the left and right edges of the swing seat, centered between the front and back edges (Image 1). Use drill bit to create a hole (Image 2). Next, secure the lag eye screws through the hole with bolts and fender washers (Image 3).

Install Screw Swing Hardware to Crossbeam

Standing on ladder, use measuring tape to determine exact width of crossbeam starting from the inside edge of each of the support beams (Image 1). Next, use speed square to ensure each mark is perfectly level to the other (Image 2). Use drill and drill bit to create pilot holes for screw swing hardware. Install screw swing hardware into holes (Image 3).

Sand Then Paint

Prepare all wood surfaces for paint or stain by smoothing down rough areas with orbital sander (Image 1). Tape off screw swing hardware with painter's tape or remove it completely to avoid paint coverage. Using roller handle and roller sleeve, paint all wooden surfaces with two even coats of exterior paint (Image 2). For extra detail, consider taping a pattern to the swing seats using painter's tape, first removing the exterior lag eye screws, then covering with exterior paint (Image 3). Once dry, remove painter's tape and re-attach lag eye screws (Image 4).

Attach Nylon Rope to Swings

Taking into consideration that the top of each swing seat should sit 24 inches above the ground, cut nylon rope to size, leaving a generous amount of slack for creating a knot. Thread nylon rope through screw swing hardware, then down into lag eye screws of swing seats. Create a solid double knot around the eye hook, then cut excess with utility knife (Image 1). Note: Before allowing kids on the swings, first test them out, making sure that your knots are strong.

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