Introduction: Free-Standing Portable Hammock Stand

Picture of Free-Standing Portable Hammock Stand

One of the best things about summer is being able to enjoy the beautiful weather from the comfort of a hammock. But unless you’ve got the perfect gear, it can be difficult to find two trees or posts close enough and sturdy enough to set up your hammock exactly where you want it. That’s why we decided to design this lightweight portable hammock stand – so you can make any spot the perfect hammock spot, wherever you are. This project takes about 1-2 ½ hours, depending on your tools. Once the stand is completed, it only takes about 5 minutes (longer the first few times) to set up.

Materials:
10ft. of 1 ¼” diameter SCH-40 PVP Pipe

10ft. of 1” diameter SCH-40 PVP Pipe

50ft. Paracord

48” x 3/4” x 1/8” aluminum angle

(2) 1/2” screws

Material Cost: approximately $20

Tools:

Permanent marker

Pocket knife

Lighter

Power Drill with 3/8” drill bit

Small, round file

Screwdriver

Hacksaw w/ blade

Step 1: Create Stakes (Optional)

Picture of Create Stakes (Optional)

These first few steps describe how to make your own aluminum stakes. If you’d prefer, you can skip this section and buy aluminum tent stakes from any outdoor gear store - just make sure they’re at least 10” long.

1. Measure & mark the aluminum angle into four 1ft. sections. We suggest laying the aluminum angle with the corner facing up for easier cutting.

2. At one end of each aluminum section, mark a line from the center of the angle towards the edge, creating a 45° angle; repeat on the other side of the center to create a point. Cut along the guide lines.

3. At the flat end of each stake, make a mark ¾” from top edge, and ¼” from side edge. Make a small triangle with the pointy end of the triangle pointed towards the bottom of the stake.

4. With the hacksaw, cut out the notches at the top of each stake.

5. File all cut edges of each metal stake.

Step 2: Creating the Stand - Cut PVC Pipes Into Sections

Picture of Creating the Stand - Cut PVC Pipes Into Sections

1. Measure & mark the 1 ¼” diameter pipe into four 27” sections. Wrap a piece of paper around the pipe as a guide when making marks. Using the hacksaw, cut along your guidelines.

2. Measure & mark the 1” diameter pipe into two 27” sections. Wrap a piece of paper around the pipe as a guide when making marks. Using the hacksaw, cut along your guidelines.

3. Fold a piece of paper into a guide for the PVC pipe angle cut. You'll use this guide in the next step.

Step 3: Creating the Stand - Cut the Angle for the Bottom Pieces

Picture of Creating the Stand - Cut the Angle for the Bottom Pieces

4. Wrap the newly-folded paper guide around one section of 1 ¼” PVC pipe – make sure that one corner of the paper guide ends at the edge of the pipe, and the bottom edge of the guide lines up all the way around.
Mark the pipe with marker.

5. Starting at the edge of the pipe, align your saw blade with the indicated mark and cut through to the other side of the pipe. Note: you will not follow the line entirely around the pipe.

6. File all cut edges of pipe.

Step 4: Creating the Stand - Create Top & Support Pieces

Picture of Creating the Stand - Create Top & Support Pieces

7. With the longer end of the 1 ¼” angle-cut pipe facing downwards, make a mark at 13 ½” from the flat end of the pipe. Repeat on second angle-cut pipe.

8. Secure a screw at the designated mark. Repeat on second pipe. No need to add a second screw to the other side of either pipe as these screws are not weight-bearing, they just hold the internal connector pipes in
place within the larger weight-bearing pipes.

9. On each section of the non-angle-cut 1 ¼” pipe, measure & mark 1 ½” down from edge. Drill a hole through one side of the 1 ¼” pipe, then check to see that the drill bit is angled to exit the pipe as perpendicularly as possible before drilling through to the other side.

10. Smooth the edges of the drill holes with the knife or round file.

Step 5: Creating the Stand - Add the Support Cords

Picture of Creating the Stand - Add the Support Cords

12. Cut the 50ft length of parachute cord (paracord) into two 25ft sections.

13. To prevent fraying, melt the cut ends of the cord with your lighter. (Note: When you apply heat to good quality paracord, the internal core and outer sheath of the cord should melt simultaneously into a hard plastic tip. We wrapped our cord edges with Gorilla tape before melting, as the cord material we were able to find didn’t melt properly.)

14. Find the middle of each 25ft. section and feed the loops through the holes drilled at the top of the 1 ¼” pipes. Tie a Figure-8-on-a-Bight knot to create an approximately 4” loop.

15. Tie a second Figure-8-on-a-Bight on the opposite side of the pipe to keep the cord from sliding through. Repeat with second set of cord and pipe.

16. At the end of each support line, leave approximately 1ft of tail and tie another Figure-8-on-a-Bight. The loop at the end of the knot should be approximately 4” – long enough to loop around the head of the stake. Most important: each side of the support line connected to the same pipe must be as equal as possible. Measure your second knot against the first.

Step 6: ​​Setting Up Your New Hammock Stand, Part 1

Picture of ​​Setting Up Your New Hammock Stand, Part 1

We know this next part might sound complicated because of all the angles and geometry, but trust us, it’s actually really simple. This system is pretty forgiving, so even if your angles aren't exact, as long as your support cords are even, everything will balance out. It may take you 15 minutes or so the first few times, but eventually, it only took us about 4 minutes to set it up.

1. Lay out your hammock on the ground in the position you want it to hang.

2. Place the pointed end of one of the bottom post sections near one end of your hammock at approximately an 80° angle (tilted away from the direction your hammock will eventually hang). Be sure that the longest side of the angle cut is facing towards the direction your hammock will be. Use a rubber mallet to hammer it into the ground until firmly planted (depth will vary based on soil composition).

3. Slide in inner connector pipe, and top piece.

4. While looking straight at the support pipe, line up each support cord at approximately a 30° angle to this center line.

5. Using the loop at the end of the support line, create a girth hitch around the head of a stake. Repeat on the other support cord connected to your first support post.

Step 7: ​​Setting Up Your New Hammock Stand, Part 2

Picture of ​​Setting Up Your New Hammock Stand, Part 2

6. Connect hammock to first support post.

7. Pull support cords until straight, but not tight. Hammer stake into ground at a sharp angle away from the support post. Repeat with second cord & stake.

8. Fully assemble second support post, and connect the other end of your hammock to the loop at the top of it. Position second support post so that it is also at an 80° angle from the ground, and hammock has a generous curve at the bottom but still about a foot above the ground. Mark where the bottom of this post should be hammered in.

9. Disconnect the hammock from the second support post and disassemble post. Hammer in bottom section of post, then reassemble the second post. Repeat steps #2-#5 above to set up the support cords for the second post.

10. Clip hammock back into second post.

11. If you’ve set everything up properly, the cords should tighten just enough to prevent the support posts from bowing outwards, and the posts will hold your weight.

Lay back and enjoy your summer siesta. You’ve earned it.

Step 8: Additional Notes

Picture of Additional Notes

This system can support two people (up to about 300lbs.) so long as your hammock is strong enough to do so as well.

Use both posts to create a free-standing system, or use one post to connect your hammock to an existing tree or post.

The aluminum stakes we showed you how to make, fit snugly inside the 1" diameter PVC pipe for storage and transportation.

The long tail you left at the end of each support cord makes it easier to pull up stakes when you take down the system.

This hammock stand works in sand as well - just be sure to dig down to the hard-packed sand before hammering in your stakes.

Comments

Brent Blaskievich (author)2017-05-05

For stakes, I use 70cent 12-inch nails from Lowes that are good for outdoor use. and I just leave them in the ground and reattach as needed.

Pumuggel (author)2017-02-24

Has anybody tried to use walking sticks instead of PVC-poles? These should be able to support peoples weight and you might carry them anyway.

joombaloomba (author)2016-08-08

i was just about to make my own one of these and i was super confused. then i saw your instructable! so lucky! thanks!

pacster (author)2016-08-01

Very cool project.
I love my Mayan hammock and this will be perfect for it.

I am afraid that when using two stand alone pvc posts it might be slowly going deeper into the ground.
I would add some sort of stops /bumpers on the lower part pvc posts so it will stop against the ground and will not go into the soil more while sitting on it.

CHeers!

Sgt Doughy made it! (author)2015-06-03

I made this with high hopes, and I wasn't completely let down. After I made it I tested it out by trying to hammock in the middle of my yard. After MUCH adjustment I finally got to where my butt barely touched the ground, but the longer I sat, the more the hammock streched until I was sitting on the ground completely.

After a while I felt defeated, but I decided to try to use one of the polls and a tree instead of two polls. This method works great.

My advice is this. Don't make this if you plan on using the 2 polls as standalone support for the hammock. Make 1 poll and use that and a tree for the support (as shown in the picture #1).

******NOTE: You can buy 11in or 16in plastic ground spikes at Lowes for $2/spike

Good suggestions, Sgt Doughy--I'll look into the ground spikes. Your hammock looks super-taut in that photo...that looks way below the recommended 30deg and could also be part of the challenge you faced? Thanks again for the suggestions. -EK

cejot (author)2016-06-02

What do you think about increase angle between the poles and the ground? It automatically increase the angle between the poles and the hammock ropes and in result decrease the pull force acting on the poles from hammock ropes in my thought.

sidmarx (author)2016-04-30

How about using those spiral, screw-in pegs usually for restraining dogs? That should give better grip.

JenniferCarver (author)2016-04-25

I need free standing poles to hold a hammock that holds 390lbs. The poles need to be high so a flag can be attached. Also the strings won't work so what could I use base wise?

darus67 made it! (author)2014-09-23

Neat project. It worked fine for my 10yr old offspring. For my more considerable adult frame, not so much. The stakes ripped right out of the sod. For my second attempt, I attached one end of the hammock to a basketball goal post (3" steel pipe set in concrete) and put all 4 ropes and stakes on the other end of the hammock. That seemed to support my weight without much problem. Future plans include making another set of stakes and using two stakes on each corner, with a yoke to distribute the load between them.

Bundaberg42 (author)darus672014-09-24

Thanks for sharing pics! Glad the system was workable for you.

darus67 (author)Bundaberg422015-08-30

This happened to me yesterday.

I'm glad it was just a lazy afternoon in the yard and not last weekend when I was camping out overnight in the hammock.

I'm not sure what I did different than any of the other times I've used it. Guess I need to build it stronger. We have the technology. :)

tonghop24 (author)2015-08-09

I usually use a hammock stand to relax and sleep. I like these kind of hammock in website: http://hammockstandexpert.com/

Nuonaton (author)2015-08-08

Neat!

cbhoff923 (author)2015-04-28

If I used larger PVC pipe would this hold more weight? I have a family sized hammock and it's rated for 600lbs!

crazyndhed03 (author)cbhoff9232015-06-09

Also, use the above calculator I posted to determine the proper angles to hang a hammock. A really taut hammock at 600lbs (5 degree angle) would exert a whopping 3442 lbs per strap!!!! No PVC would withstand that. A 30 degree angle, you exert 600 lbs per strap. 45 degree angle = 424 lbs per strap. Now we're talking. Not the "comfortable" taut hammocks we all think of, but better than hearing something snap suddenly!

Sgt Doughy (author)cbhoff9232015-06-03

A larger PVC pipe would hold a little more weight but the best thing to do would be to layer pipe on the inside. About three layers or more of PVC pipe of varying sizes each going into the other would give it a much stronger weight capacity. Also if you know anything about bows you know that a recurve makes a bow much stronger. If you know how to recurve the PVC pipe you could do that too.

crazyndhed03 (author)2015-06-09

Great instructable!

As I am sure you are probably aware, but as a PSA for others: Hammocks should all be hung at much less taut than people think! Your angles, at least in the final pictures, look pretty good. You want a minimum 30 degree angles between the supports and the hammock lines.

If a hammock is too taut, then the forces are way too strong. A 200 lbs person can exert over 1000 lbs of of force at a 5 degree angle (per strap!), but only 200 lbs (per strap) at a 30 degree angle. This was the biggest wake up call when I got into hammocks. The backyard hammocks exert a TON of force on their stands when they are super taut, which is why they are heavy steel. Basically, take your weight / sin(angle).

This is also why straps rated for 200 lbs (per strap) fail on people all the time. A 100 lbs person in a hammock at 5 degree angle exerts 500 lbs of force on the straps and the supports.

This is a wonderful calculator that everyone should use before hanging a hammock!!!!

http://theultimatehang.com/hammock-hang-calculator...

This also explains why the PVC and stakes did such a good job supporting your weight. Your angles are closer to 30 degrees in the final pictures.

angelleah1981 (author)2014-08-22

This is a great idea. I'm just wondering why it's so close to the ground?? I saw where you were talking about the angle and "tighter" hammock but didn't seem to get my answer there.

We started low to the ground so we wouldn't be injured if the system failed, so that's what most of our pictures show. In general, the further you hammer the support posts into the ground, the lower your eventual set up will be. The support posts could be made longer, but you'd likely have to use a stronger (and heavier) pipe to reduce bending.

FringeBits (author)2014-08-25

Great project, was able to put it together in a couple of hours. I did end up using some existing tent stakes that I had, and they seemed to work OK. Getting everything setup and aligned took awhile the first time, but I expect it'll be easier next time. Thanks!

Bundaberg42 (author)FringeBits2014-09-24

So glad the project worked for you :-)

rocksalt2342 (author)2014-09-21

Fun build! Now I don't have to find two trees perfectly spaced apart. I tried this and modified some things. It helps to
tie a weight on a string before the knot where the cords split, this
makes setting up easier as you can tell when the pole is level. The
stakes don't work very well in the rain, so digging deeper for the poles
and reinforcing stakes with buried rocks is the only solution I found. I
put a small piece of rebar in the 1/2" tube so it won't break easily, and the pole won't bend so much.

Bundaberg42 (author)rocksalt23422014-09-24

Thanks for the notes about modifications. I hope you enjoyed the project.

arlen (author)2014-08-21

I love this. I want to try making a version using bamboo poles :D

lumpyspacePrincess410 (author)2014-08-21

Very cool. Always good to use on family trips and stuff

Jobar007 (author)2014-08-19

I didn't know PVC could support that much weight. That's good to know. An alternative would be a hardwood closet rod but you would lose the ability to store stakes inside of your tube. Perhaps aluminum tubing?

Your hammock seems to be setup with the poles too close. Sleeping all night like you show is hard on people's backs if they have back problems. You ideally want to be on a relatively flat surface when you lay in your hammock, slightly canted to one side. Here is a very crude drawing I found on the internet on how it is best to sleep in a hammock:

Bundaberg42 (author)Jobar0072014-08-19

I agree and have first hand experience of how much more comfortable it is to sleep for longer periods of time on a flat hammock than a curved one. The curve we recommended for this hammock stand setup is based on the limitations of PVC pipe.

We chose PVC because it is lightweight, easy to acquire, and fairly inexpensive. But, because it is highly flexible, PVC is relatively stronger when supporting weight as a column (load applied parallel to the pipe direction) than when a load is applied perpendicularly to the pipe, so long as lateral flexibility can be managed.

This setup angles the force vectors so that weight is supported by the relatively high compressive strength of the pipe, with the support chords and internal connector piece reducing lateral flexibility, rather than applying force to the relatively weaker flexural strength.

A tighter setup would put more force perpendicular to the direction of the pipes (from the hammock stretched between them pulling horizontally) which would weaken the structure.

TL;DR - Yes, a tighter hammock is more comfortable long-term, but PVC is so flexible that it is stronger when the weight pulls downward, and parallel to the pipe, than when force pulls it inward, side to side. Thanks for the pointer on long term comfort, though.

Jobar007 (author)Bundaberg422014-08-20

That makes sense (the compression vertically verses perpendicularly). That's the exact reason I suggested wooden poles. Wood has one of the highest compression resistance rates if you compress it like gravity does when growing (when cost and availability are deciding factors). On top of that it is really light given how high the compression is. I think I still have a hammock. I'm going to have to try this out. If I do, I'll report back here.

floppydisk123 (author)2014-08-20

Or possibly metal

floppydisk123 (author)2014-08-20

Would a wood pole be better if you wanted a tighter setup I was looking at making this but I like my hammock to be very tight

MrRedBeard (author)2014-08-19

Nice! I love my hammocks and now I can possibly use it on flat land with no trees.

seamster (author)2014-08-19

Nice hammock stand! And excellent documentation. Great first instructable!

Bundaberg42 (author)seamster2014-08-19

Thank you. I've read a ton of instructables since I became a member, so I had some good examples by the time I created this first one.

Jdsardone (author)2014-08-19

This is great, possibly for this weekend, and then maybe make a taller version for my hammock tent

http://hammockcompany.com/product/expedition+asym+...

Bundaberg42 (author)Jdsardone2014-08-19

We're thinking of modifications to this system that could support a rainfly/tarp as well. We'll keep experimenting and post again with new ideas.

buckwag1219 (author)2014-08-18

Awesome "ible"! I will be attempting to build this at my first chance!

Bundaberg42 (author)buckwag12192014-08-19

Thanks! We hope you enjoy it.

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