Build a tree swing

A swing is as much fun for parents as it is for children! With the good weather at our doorsteps, building this tree swing is the perfect activity to do with your family. Your children will learn to take precise measurements, cut wood, and they will even learn the art of knots. What’s not to like ?

Difficulty level : 
Duration : 
2 hours

1
Cut

  • 1.1Start your tree swing by measuring and marking a piece of hardwood lumber at 22 inches.
  • 1.2Saw the board using a Japanese-style hand saw, which cuts on the pull stroke so it is easy to use even for kids.
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Top tip

If you are doing this with your kids, just make sure they keep one hand behind their back so they can’t possibly hurt themselves.

2
Glue

  • 2.1Glue the two boards together with carpenter’s glue by squeezing a generous squiggle of glue onto both boards.
  • 2.2Distribute glue evenly on the surface of both boards using a putty knife. If you haven’t squeezed on enough glue to coat the whole surface, add some more.
  • 2.3Make a sandwich out of the two boards, gluey sides together.
  • 2.4Use clamps to squeeze the two boards together. The moisture from the glue may make the boards want to warp a bit so use as many clamps as you have.
  • 2.5Leave the clamps for at least 20 minutes or overnight if you can.

3
Sand and drill

  • 3.1Use a small electric sander to round off the edges of the hardwood seat. Pay special attention to softening the sharp corners of the boards.
  • 3.2Drill holes in each corner for the ropes that will hold the seat, using a spade that matches the diameter of the rope. Each hole should be inset from the edges by about one inch.
  • 3.3Buff the underside of each hole with a sander.

4
Measure

  • 4.1After measuring the height of the tree branch that will hold your swing, measure the correct amount of rope adding an additional 4-5 feet for knots and passing the rope under the seat.
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Top tip

For a fun shortcut, measure the distance between your fingertips and use your arm span as a measuring tool.

5
Mark

  • 5.1Mark the spot where you need to cut by wrapping the rope with a piece of masking tape.
  • 5.2Cut through the middle of the tape using craft scissors.
  • 5.3Melt the cut fibers with a match or a lighter.

6
Tie

  • 6.1Start a double bowline by making a 6 with the rope
  • 6.2Make a second loop on top of the first one so you have a double coll.
  • 6.3Pass the end of the rope up through the double coll.
  • 6.4Pass the end, under the long rope.
  • 6.5Put the end of the rope back into the hole
  • 6.6Now pull the taut. You should have a double bowline.

7
Hang

  • 7.1Practice throwing your double bowline over the tree limb that your swing will hang from. You can use your arm till you get a feel for it.
  • 7.2Keep hauling on the rope till your double bowline is snug against the tree limb.
  • 7.3Once you’ve got both ropes hanging from the tree branch, attach the seat by feeding the first rope through one corner and the other rope through the opposite corner.
  • 7.4Draw each rope along under the seat and pull it up through the empty hole on the opposite side.
  • 7.5Tie a single bowline starting with a 6 at about 8 inches above the seat.
  • 7.6Pass the end of the shorter rope, the one that you just passed under the seat, up through the 6 like a rabbit sticking his head out of a hole.
  • 7.7Take the ‘rabbit’ around the long rope that’s secured to the tree branch overhead and then back into the hole.
  • 7.8Snug the bowline down by tugging it from each direction till it’s nice and tight. Repeat on the other side of the seat.

8
Tidy up

  • 8.1Use any excess rope to tie ‘half hitches’ until you’ve used up all of the excess!
  • 8.2Enjoy!

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