Introduction: DIY Porch Swing (Free Templates!)

This might seem like a big project, but it is actually very simple and doable even for a beginner. I’ll be throwing in alternatives to tools so even if you don’t have a shop full of tools, you can make this swing with just a jigsaw and a drill. Visit my website for other DIY/woodworking projects!

I make all my swings from cedar because it’s a wood that is naturally rot resistant. So if you left a cedar board outside untreated it would hold up longer than something like pine. However, cedar is more expensive so you can purchase pine instead and follow all the same steps. If you go the route of building it from pine, you just have to make sure to seal it really well and often.

Here is my material list:

10 – 1 x 2 x 8

3 – 1 x 4 x 8

2 – 1 x 6 x 8

14 – 1/4″ flat washers

14 – 1/4″ nylon nuts

12 – 1/4 x 2 carriage bolts

2 – 1/4 x 3 carriage bolts

2 – Small S hooks

2 – Large S hooks

1 – Box of 1 5/8″ exterior screws

17′ of chain

Step 1: Sand Your Boards

I sanded the back side of all my boards. Cedar is very powdery so be sure to wear a respirator.

Step 2: Trace the Templates

I took the templates (below) and traced them on my boards until I had the correct number of each piece. You will need:

4 – Bottom Supports

4 – Back Supports

2 – Cup Holder Bottoms

2 – Cup Holder Backs

2 – Arm Fronts

2 – Arms

1 – Footer

Note: The footer is not included in the templates since it’s a big rectangle, however the dimensions are 43″x 2 3/4″

Step 3: Cut Out the Pieces

Once I had everything traced, I cut it all out using my bandsaw. Alternative: If you don’t have a bandsaw you can use a jigsaw.

Tip: In each group, I made sure to cut one as perfect as possible, then just rough cut the remaining so that I could use a flush trim bit to get them identical. Alternative: If you do not have a router, or a flush trim bit then just take your time cutting out all the different pieces with the jigsaw.

Step 4: Make Holes in the Arms

Next I went to the drill press with the arms and first used a 7/8″ paddle bit to drill a hole that will later be used for the chain. Alternative: If you don’t have a paddle bit then use a regular drill bit to make a starter hole then use a jigsaw to cut the hole. If you do not have a drill press then use a regular drill.

I also used the paddle bit to make a starter hole in the cup holder area so that I could get use a jigsaw to cut it out.

Step 5: Round Over Edges

With all the pieces cut I put a round over bit in my router and went over everything except the bottom and back supports. On the arms I went over both sides but on the vertical arm support, cup holder pieces, and footer I only went over one side (make sure it’s the smooth side). Alternative: If you don’t have a router than don’t worry about this step. You can leave your pieces with the factory edges on them or you can take some sandpaper and ease the edges a little that way.

Step 6: Start Assembly

Notes:
  • A carriage bolt is distinguishable because it has a build up of material in the shape of a square right under the head but before you get to the threads. So instead of just slipping it into into a hole and the head sitting flush like a regular bolt, you have to grab a hammer and give it a slight tap…just enough to get it started, then when you tighten down on the nut it will finish sucking that square build up into the wood and keep it from rotating when you tighten down on it.
  • I drilled a pilot hole on all of my holes with a countersink bit.
  • I used 1 5/8″ exterior screws throughout the entire build.

Next, I started joining things together. I first took the footer and one vertical arm support and lined them up where the bottom of the vertical arm support is flush with the bottom of the footer. Then I used the drill press to drill two 1/4″ holes. Tip: After you drill the first hole, take a 1/4″ bolt and stick it in the hole you just drilled. This will make sure the holes stay aligned perfectly while you are drilling your second hole, which will prevent alignment issues when you’re bolting things together. Alternative: If you don’t have a drill press just use your regular drill.

Step 7: Assembly of the Footer

I placed a 1/4″ x 2″ carriage bolt in each hole then used a hammer to tap them into place. Then I put a washer and a nylon nut on each carriage bolt and tighten them down.

Note!: In the photo I have the footer behind the vertical arm supports, however if you use my templates the footer needs to be in front or everything will be slightly off. (This was my personal swing so I changed a few things while building it).

Step 8: Assembly of the Bottom and Back Supports

Next I joined the bottom and back supports. I would first grab one of each and align them so that their angles matched up with one another. Then I drilled two 1/4″ holes, again sticking a bolt in the first hole to keep it’s position while I drilled the second. Once all four supports were drilled, I would tap in the 1/4″ x 2″ carriage bolts then put on a washer, nylon nut, and tighten it all down.

Note: I assembled two back supports on the left side of the bottom support, and two on the right.

Step 9: Assembly

To join the bottom/back support to the footer, I used a speed square to make sure I was attaching it straight. Once the speed square was flush against the bottom support and the footer, I would hold it in place then use a screw to attach it. At this point I only attached the far left and right supports. I used two screws in each support.

Step 10: Assembly

Before attaching the arms I first took them to the drill press and drilled a hole in the back portion, in order to give myself a way to attach it to the back supports, then I put a 3″ carriage bolt in.

Step 11: Attaching Arms

I lined the arm up so that the chain hole was just in front of the vertical arm support, then drilled a hole where the carriage bolt hit on the back support. I used a hammer to tap it into place then put on a washer and nylon nut.

Then I moved to the other side and repeated the steps.

Step 12: Assembly of the Arms/Cup Holder

Next, I screwed the front arm support in place by using two screws going in from the top.

Then I attached the cup holder assembly. First by joining the bottom and back of the assembly, then by attaching it to the arm.

Step 13: Making the Slats

After attaching the other side the same way I moved the entire thing up to a taller work surface then attached the two middle supports.

When you are buying the boards to make up the slats you can either purchase 1×2 boards and use them as is, or buy 1×6 boards and use a table saw to cut them down to 1 1/2″. The advantage of doing it this way is a slightly lower cost, but also it’s easier to find straight 1x6s than it is 1x2s. However, either way works. I was able to find 5 straight 1x2s so I used those then bought 1x6s to make up the rest. Note: You can get 2 slats from the 1x2s and 6 slats from a 1×6.

Before cutting any of the boards, I first went over the edges (on one side) with a round over bit. If you don’t have a router than just leave them as is or soften the edges with sandpaper.

Step 14: Cut and Attach the Slats

I set up a stop block at my miter saw and started cutting my slats to length. Alternative: If you don’t have a miter then use your jigsaw to make your cuts.

I started to attach the slats: I borrowed my husband drill to make this process go faster (using two drills). I kept a countersink bit in one to pilot hole, and a Phillips in the other to drive in the screws. I attached the front slat first, then moved to the back and attached the very last one.

Step 15: Adding the Slats

Then I went through and attached the rest, using a scrap piece of 1/2″ wood to make sure they were all evenly spaced.

Once the seat was finish, I just started on the back and repeated the steps. I attached the bottom most slat first, then moved to the top and screwed in my top most slat then filled in the in between.

Step 16: Finishing and Adding Chain

To give the wood a little protection I applied a coat of Teak oil by Minwax.

Once the swing was dry, I started to add the chain. I cut two lengths of 8 links each (each link is two loops) then drilled a hole in each side near the top. Then I attached the chain to the side with carriage bolt, washer, and nylon nut assembly. Note: Before tightening down on the nut be sure the link is slanted like in the below photo.

Next I divided the rest of the chain in two equal lengths and cut the middle then stuck them in their respected places on the footer. This chain goes through the hole in front of the cup holder.

Now you can connect the chains by way of a ‘S’ hook then find a spot to hang it

Step 17: Another Swing

This is a swing I made for my folks and my mom wanted their names on it, so I grabbed my soldering iron and burned in their two names.

This was a very simple simple project. If you are looking for a porch swing and are on the fence about tackling it yourself, I say go for it. Even if you don’t have a router or the two bits I used….you could build a swing with a drill, jig saw, and a 1/4″ wrench. Then you would be sitting on something you yourself built. <–very cool feeling.

Total Cost: $74

Comments

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DonS89 made it!(author)2017-06-27

Took it out to 5 feet long to fit the frame. Used the templates - thank you for those. wife is happy!

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shepnstein made it!(author)2017-05-28

Laura, I've made one already and am about to make 2 more for relatives. Thank you!
Have you tried using a brad nailer for nailing the slats to the frame? I'm considering using them instead of the hassle of screws. Do you think the results would be as good or would they pop out over time?

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tonykivett57 made it!(author)2017-04-27

How can I get templates?

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LisaM424 made it!(author)2017-05-27

The pdf for the templates is in a link under the step 2 picture.

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Dlyennie made it!(author)2016-11-06

I wish you would show dimensions of a speech piece example 24 inches by 3 Inches

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JustyBear made it!(author)2016-09-07

How much weight can this hold? I'm paranoid about overloading it- I'm really excited to build it as a gift, but I'm worried based on comments I've read here about force on the joint where the base and the back meet, etc. It looks like everyone's had luck with it though!

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PeterM298 made it!(author)2016-06-30

what are the length of the slats ? 4 feet 6 feet ,? thanks

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Readyt4 made it!(author)2016-08-31

my slats were same as april's in length

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Readyt4 made it!(author)2016-08-22

Dsgb31535 did you want mine?

Gvande,

I thought of April's templates as guidance, not an exact match for what I wanted. I printed her templates and then folded one side and taped two pages together so that the lines joined. I kept the left and right side of the paper edges aligned to get the right pattern. I then traced pattern onto some old pine boards and cut them one end assembly consisting of a vertical back support, a seat base and a forward vertical arm rest support, but not the arm rest since if you change the angle between the back and seat, you will need to adjust the arm rest length.

I measured the angle (in the center of the chair) of an Adirondack chair I like and used that as the angle between the seat base and back. I set two screws to join the vertical back support and seat base as April recommended and then marked the extra wood beyond its mated piece to be cut later for a clean look. I then cut a piece of scrap as a spacer to take the place of the front base, aligned it with the forward vertical arm rest abd joined both to the seat base as she shows it done. With the back and seat base set at my preferred angle, and the arm rest support in place, I then used her arm rest template to trace a pattern for the arm rest but adjusted the length so I had enough space beyond the arm rest support to cut a hole for the forward supporting ropes. Now my wife would tell you I enjoyed figuring it all out...and I did. And I hope you do too. I recommend you do an end assembly in pine first to get it right before doing it in cedar. After I got my end assembly the way I wanted it, I disassembled it, cut the extra wood off the bottom of the back support and end of the seat base, sanded all pieces to smooth, and used the pine pieces as my templates to lay out my cuts on the cedar. Hope this helps. I recommend you enjoy the journey and realize that any minor imperfection is what makes it uniquely yours.

Tom LBI
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JustyBear made it!(author)2016-08-29

1x2x8, and all the measurements are actually 3/4" x 2 3/4" x 8' right?

Similar terminology to 2x4 actually being smaller due to the wood being surfaced down? Or does the wood actually need to be 1 inch thick, etc. Thank you very much!

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Readyt4 made it!(author)2016-08-29

I found the cheapest way is to take a 1" x 6" x 8' and cut to the right length and then rip the two halves lengthwise to make 8 equal width, equal length slats per 8' length board. Don't forget to account for blade width when setting the table saw blade offset. Actual board size would be 3/4" x 5.5" x 8 ft.

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JustyBear made it!(author)2016-08-30

Thanks so much for clarifying- all the boards will then be 3/4" right, including supports? Seems like it could be flimsy, but maybe not. I'm going for a 5' - 6' bench as opposed to the 4'-ish one in the instructions. I dislike having to account for the kerf of the blade, but it's just one of those things I guess, lol.

I wonder if the four supports is enough to support a 6' swing, or if I should keep it at 5'- any hints on that? Thanks again!

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Readyt4 made it!(author)2016-08-31

i encourage you to account for blade width and get 8 slats per 8' board instead of 6 slats and save some cash To attach my 5/8" looped rope i used stainless steel 3" long 1/4" closed hooks Where i attached them i added a 2"x 3" spacer plate and then used fender washers on front and back of the bolt length to distribute stress acroos the face of the wood

Length of bench wont matter but the load per attachment point will I dont think you would gain much w a 5 ft bench but a 6 ft one would allow 3 people to sit But cost will go up because you would need to add at least one more seat and back support and you would have higher slat cost, maybe twice as much. I think if you went w the 4 ft length youd be pretty happy and your cost would be lower

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gvandewate made it!(author)2016-07-07

Could I possibly get some exact measurements for Back Supports, Arms, & Bottoms, rough template lines don't match up coming off my printer, very frustrating.

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Trevisrsmith made it!(author)2016-08-16

did you get exact measurements?

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gvandewate made it!(author)2016-08-18

No, told me they were in tutorial!


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Trevisrsmith made it!(author)2016-08-16

looking for exact measurements?

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Dsgb31535 made it!(author)2016-08-06

How do i get your templates

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Readyt4 made it!(author)2016-07-24

April. Thanks for inspiring me. I used your paper templates to make some wood ones using some old pine boards. Then I decided that I'd like a high back like I have in my Adirondack chairs. Then I decided that I'd like the backs to be ergonomically shaped so I copied the back shape of an outdoor rocker I like. I used 1x8x8 to create back slats but cut them so I could get six slats per board to save cost. I used clear cedar for all wood parts but would use knotty for the base and back on my next effort to save cost. Bench is in a marine environment so I used stainless bolts nuts washers and hooks. Used teak oil to finish. To hang I used 5/8" rope into which I spliced loops at each end and then attached each loop to closed end stainless steel loops bolted to the frame. I connected the rope to the joist hangers using stainless steel chain which allows me to get final flatness of beach deck by adjusting the number of links on each side. I created a loop at the apex of each rope to attach chain I kept the bench tilt locked at my preferred pitch by whipping the rope using sailor thread to create the apex rope loop. Total cost for project was $200. But it made a great 15th wedding anniversary present for my wife. Thanks for the inspiration. Oh. Used a simple table saw, a small drill press, belt sander, chop saw and jig saw. Had to buy a router but I always wanted one. Took two weekends to build including templates. Used 1-1/4 deck inserts to protect wood from rope threaded through it. Tom. Long Beach Island NJ

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PeterM298 made it!(author)2016-07-15

slat widths ? hi you say to rip 6 inch boards down to 1.5 inches on a table saw . then you say you can get 2 slats from a 1x2 or 6 slats from a 1x6 ,which means those slats are 1 inch wide not 1.5 , which is it ? by the way a 1x6 inch board is only 5.5 inches wide ,so the most you can get from a 6 inch board is 3 one and a half inch slats . please explaine . thanks ,Pete

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M%C3%A0ldee made it!(author)2016-06-28

Thank you so much for posting this. I have been wanting to try one. So glad I found this site

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KhoiP3 made it!(author)2016-06-18

Thank you so much for the templates.

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zkeninger made it!(author)2016-04-17

Awesome tutorial!

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rpmalouin made it!(author)2016-06-17

nice

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DavidB666 made it!(author)2016-04-10

like

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Bonnie56 made it!(author)2016-03-28

♥♥♥♥

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Devinchi42 made it!(author)2015-12-20

Thank you for doing this Instructable. I made a number of changes to the design to suit my needs. Thanks for the instructions, an templates.

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manuelmasc made it!(author)2015-09-15

Your porch bench inspired me to make a mini version! Thanks for the ible and for the idea!

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DIY+Andrea made it!(author)2015-09-12

Always beautiful work April!

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Volthaus+Electronics+Laboratory made it!(author)2015-09-12

Wow only $74. You saved a lot of money. And I'm sure your folks will get a big kick every time they go a'swinging in a swing made by their lovely daughter. Great work.

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ssoppa made it!(author)2015-08-29

Очень нравятся все твои работы. :-)

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seamster made it!(author)2015-07-30

This is excellent work - the swing, the video, this written tutorial. All around great stuff!

I hope you share all of your awesome projects here :)

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jwallace27 made it!(author)2015-08-16

I second more projects here request!! So glad to see a woman building!

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April+Wilkerson made it!(author)2015-07-30

: ) Thanks, I appreciate that.

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Phil_S made it!(author)2015-08-04

Hello,

This highlights some of the big differences between the States (I presume) and the UK.

We don't have porches other than little glasshouses in front of the main door - a swing would be impracticable, besides swings are for kids.

We don't socialise, instead prefer to watch the telly or go to the pub.

We don't have "porch" weather. We don't do verandas. We don't do flags (putting up an English flag = National Front). We don't do DIY, we've lost the art of making.

It's a great shame that we don't adopt some of your ways - it's a nice project.

I always fancied a swinging (hammock) type bed suspended from the ceiling (preferably a reinforced joist) with a motor to gently waft you off to sleep. As an ex-weather-ship man, the slow motion of a ship is deeply comforting.

Well done and good luck with the tools.

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Boltazar made it!(author)2015-08-13

Swings are for kids?

There is nothing more romantic than sitting with your spouse on a swing watching a sunset

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Phil_S made it!(author)2015-08-14

Hello Peter.

You've taken me a little too literally.

Swings and porches and the general "can do" attitude are a US phenomenon.

The latter iin particular has been driven out of the British psyche by GSI (get someone in) instead of DIY. We would be looking for reasons not to do something. Swinging seats used to be popular, mainly in the back garden, but are not seen much now. The Brits are more closet swingers (of the suspended variety), which highlights the lack of neighbourlyness here compared with the US. Swings are for kids would be used as a reason not to enjoy sharing a sunset with spouse or neighbours.

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richb77 made it!(author)2015-08-05

Sadly as a fellow Brit i have to agree. The art of building, designing and engineering is rapidly being lost in Britain. I dont think its all to do with the current trend of "buy it now and a new replacement in a matter of weeks". Some is to do with the prohibitive costs and stupid laws preventing invention and application.

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Phil_S made it!(author)2015-08-05

Thanks for that.

I have "thirty something" neighbours who typify the "British" attitude to getting stuck in. Everything they do is bought in, from shopping to cutting the grass - the husband couldn't tell one end of a screwdriver from the other - the kids will grow up the same.

This is all wrapped up in the smug response that they like to get the experts in, get a professional job done, as though I am some sort of nutter.

Having worked with contractors and the like for years, I have listened to their bad-mouthing of customers and seen many shoddy jobs by the so-called experts.

Give me a unpaid careful hands-on bloke or lady any day.

I would agree with the laws bit - it is a minefield in anything to do with building - I expect we would have to have a structural engineer in to hang a swing. Probably has to comply with Part X of the Swing/hanging/porch Regulations

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richb77 made it!(author)2015-08-05

Spot on Phil. But rest assured we are not all gone. I am mid thirties and love nothing more than fixing, improving or building things. Much to my annoyance with our current house sale (we NEED indemnity insurance as i changed plug covers and did some building work and not an electrician or builder!)

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Phil_S made it!(author)2015-08-05

Good for you rich and aplogies for lumping you in with my neighbours.

I owe much of my skills to my father and would find nothing more frustrating than having to through all the aggro of getting someone in for every little job. The difference between a professional and a DIYer is that the professional practices at your expense. Always research your jobs before you start, use good materials and good tools. I do anything from electrics to brickwork - electrics needs a lot of theory, brickwork needs courage and a good eye. Today, I helped out a plumber mate who got stuck with an electric shower. He's good and time served, but the little wires defeat him - usually it's case of two heads better than one, but this time, a decent meter and a new switch saved the day.

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April+Wilkerson made it!(author)2015-08-05

Man, that is a shame. My parents didn't have a porch large enough for their swing so they hung it from a tree instead. A good hammock swinging is also lovely!

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MasterC made it!(author)2015-08-11

This is excellent! Any thoughts on building a standalone frame for it, I'm envisioning this for our backyard open patio :-) Thanks for the details!

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Carleyy made it!(author)2015-08-10

I love the details! So great!

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jwarner75 made it!(author)2015-08-07

Great work. It's nice to see a Fellow woodworker. Expecially a Female woodworker. Woodworking isn't Just for males, it's for everyone that has a Knack or talent for this kind of stuff. Looking forward to scouring your instructables to see future woodworking projects!

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prince-of-weasels made it!(author)2015-08-07

Clear concise well thought out.Thank you for the inspiration ^_^ I envy both the shop & the husband hahahahahaha

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SiegHolle made it!(author)2015-08-05

thanks for the inspiration will build

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Mrballeng made it!(author)2015-08-05

April, You are my hero! I stumbled across you on youtube and now it's a pleasure to find you here. Thank you for making the impossible seem easy.

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DougM2 made it!(author)2015-08-04

Engineering-wise, there is an incredible amount of force being applied where the back and bottom attach. The force is caused by the rear chain connection point that transfer the weight of the user, plus the backward force of their back, down to that joint and then into the front arm support.

My fear is that the design will fail after a short time and exposure to the elements. I would hope otherwise and would be glad to be wrong. However, my Dad once built swing with supports in the same two locations and I still remember when he sat in it the first time and ended up on his butt with a broken swing around him.

Running the rear chain down to the rear of the seat, near where the back meets the seat, would remove over 80% of this destructive force.

Many designs drill hole in the rear of the arm and run the chain through it to the seat frame at the rear.

And, yes, you'll see this basic setup in many stores - what a pity you really can't beat physics.

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April+Wilkerson made it!(author)2015-08-05

Hey there, this is my personal swing so it's still pretty new. However I have built several of these over the years for friends and family and have never had a problem with them. Moving the chain placement would be an easy change though.

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