Introduction: How to Make a Tire Swing!

This explains how to build a tire swing. On the surface, a simple tire with a rope would seem to be a good tire swing. After all, it worked for us when we were children. But, these days, just tying a rope to a tire is not good enough. For purchased play sets, tires are now mounted horizontally instead of vertically, and that presents an entirely set of its own challenges. Here is how I succeeded in building my children a professional looking tire swing for half the cost!

Let me note at the onset that this instructable is not a joke. It is long and detailed, with lots of pictures. If you're really not interested in building a tire swing, then don't waste your time looking through it. But, if you are truly interested in building a tire swing, then this is serious and detailed instructions that ought to give you every tool to be successful. Good luck!

Step 1: Pick Out a Tire!

First, pick out a tire. Thinking that "Bigger is better" will only get you in trouble here. Without being indelicate, consider the size of the derrieres that will be riding the swing. For smaller children, a big tire just won't do. For large adults, a smaller tire should be fine - as long as it's bigger (the tire, not the derriere) than the one on your wheelbarrow! I was looking at a tire from a pickup truck, but realized our 2 1/2 year old twins wouldn't get near it. So, I settled for the tire I'd just taken off the 15" rear wheel of my motorcycle. Perfect!

Once the tire is chosen, look at both sides of it and determine which side looks better. This will be the top side. Flip the tire over and drill holes in the bottom sidewall. To do this, set the tire on a surface that will be at a height appropriate for drilling without straining your back. I used our new picnic table & it did the job perfectly. Use about a 1/2" drill bit and drill holes around the sidewall, ever few inches. The holes don't have to be perfectly spaced, but it'll drain better if the holes are more evenly spaced. I used the tread pattern to space the holes. Here's a picture of the bottom of the tire with the drain holes already drilled.

Step 2: Attach the Eye-Bolts (Part 1)

Next, flip the tire over so that it's top-side up. This is where we're going to attach the eye-bolts that'll attach to the chains that will support the tire swing. Since a triangle is the most stable plane, you'll want to find three spots, equally spaced around the sidewall, for each eye-bolt. You can use all kinds of geometric formulas for determining the ideal spots. I simply picked an arbitrary spot for my first hole. I went ahead & drilled it with a drill bit just barely big enough for the shaft of the eye-bolt. I put it in a spot where the fender washer won't stick out over the curvature of the tire. Here's what that looks like:

Step 3: Attach the Eye-Bolts (Part 2)

Then take a string & approximate where the 2nd hole would be, then use the string to see if the 3rd hole would be equal distance from the first two. Finding that it wasn't, I adjusted the string & tried it again. This process took three attempts before I hit the perfect distance. I drilled the other two holes. Then, I threaded the eye bolts with one nut & a fender washer. Then I threaded the eye-bolt through the tire. On the inside of the tire, I placed another fender washer on the eye-bolt, then the lock washer, & finally the 2nd nut, which I tightened down. Here are a few pics of the hardware, in the sequence in which they are to be attached:

Step 4: Attach the Eye-Bolts (Part 3)

The tire sidewall is now being squeezed between the two big flat fender washers. This prevents the smaller nut from pulling thru the sidewall as it gets stressed by the weight of the person swinging. Here's another view of that:

Step 5: Attach S-Hook (Part 1)

Next, take an S-hook & put it through the eye-bolt, like this:

Step 6: Attach S-Hook (Part 2)

Using a pair of big Vice Grip brand pliers, squeeze the attached side of the s-hook so that it eventually is closed around the eye-bolt. This takes several squeezings of the Vice Grips to make it happen. Adjust the Vice Grips pretty wide and squeeze them, closing the s-hook just a little bit. Open up the Vice Grips & tighten down the adjustment bolt, making them a little smaller, and squeeze them tight again, closing the s-hook a little bit more. Repeat this process, making the Vice-Grips smaller each time, until the s-hook is completely closed around the eye-bolt. Remember this process, because you'll have to do it on all the s-hook attachments.

Step 7: Attach the Eye-Bolts (Part 4)

Speaking of doing it again, do it again for the 2nd s-hook on the 2nd eye-bolt and for the 3rd s-hook on the 3rd eye-bolt.

Here's where we are right now:

Step 8: Attaching the Chains

Now that the s-hooks are attached to the eye-bolts, it's time to attach each of the 3' chains to each of the attached s-hooks. Here are the pictures of that:

Step 9: Attach the Top S-Hook

Next, take the 4th S-Hook & attach the tops of all 3 chains to it, clamping it tight with the Vice-Grip brand pliers just like the first three. Here are the pictures of that:

Step 10: Top Attachment Hardware

Now, there are three pieces of hardware, to attach to the top of this last s-hook, that will complete the tire swing portion of the project. By the picture of them, it should be obvious their purpose, once you see them. The ratchet is in the picture for size reference. Going from left to right is the order that the items will be attached to the s-hook. First is the swivel. This will allow the tire swing to swivel freely. The 2nd piece is the Connector Link between the swivel & the Clip Hook. The Clip Hook is in the sequence so that the height of the tire swing will be adjustable to the hanging chain. If you don't want/need it adjustable, then either use the Connector Link to attach it to the hanging chain, or use another s-hook. The s-hooks came in packs of two, so I had 4 of them, using 3 at the tire & 1 at the top of the chains. Instead of getting another two-pack of s-hooks, I got the Connector Link (I didn't want any leftover parts!).

Step 11: Swivel to the S-Hook

Here are 3 shots of connecting the Swivel to the top s-hook:

Step 12: Top Attachment Hardware (2)

Here's a shot with the Clip-Hook connected to the Connector Link connected to the Swivel connected to the S-Hook connected to the hip bone connected to the knee bone! well, you'll get the picture. Tighten down/up the screw closure on the Connector Link, and the Tire Swing is now ready to hang. Here are the pics:

Step 13: Long Chain

Here's a pic of the 12' of chain that I strung from the tree branch.

Step 14: Hanging the Chain

Here's a pic of the 12' Hanging Chain hanging loosely from the branch in the back yard (this is a temporary location as this branch is going to be cut off (it broke last year but is still alive until I put it out of our misery - and the tire swing will be moved to the swing set that I'm going to build, once I get the structure in place).

Step 15: Connector Link on Hanging Chain

Here's a pic of the Connector Link I used to close the Hanging Chain.

Step 16: Swing Attachment With Hanging Chain

Here are a couple of pictures of the swing attachment with the Hanging Chain:

Step 17: Completed Project

And, here's the final picture of the finished project (same as the first one):

Step 18: Final Notes:

Let me provide some final notes. I used components that were rated at a weight capacity greater than anything that'd be on the swing. The s-hooks were rated at over 600 pounds, the Clip Hook was over 500 pounds, the Connector Links were over 500 pounds, and the Swivel was over 400 pounds. This means that ANY adult who can fit between the chains, or can stand on the tire, will be safely held by the hardware used. If you want, you can certainly use lighter-duty components, which will naturally cost less money. But, I wanted to test the tire swing, and I'm 200 pounds, so I wanted to make SURE that it was safe! So, I went with double weight protection just to be certain. The whole thing, except for the tire, cost about $60.00. You could buy the kit from one of the playset manufacturers. The kit runs just a hair under $100.00. Doing it this way gave me the flexibility to do what I wanted and hang it how I wanted, and saved money along the way. If anyone has any comments, I'm interested in hearing them. But, don't ask me to do an instructable on how to build the completed playset! I'm planning on building two elevated forts with a swingset between them & a walkway above them, tho the vertical supports for the forts are being planned to use telephone poles! And, if anyone does use this to build their own tire swing, I'd really like to know.

Comments

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salmansheikh made it!(author)2013-04-20

What about using rope instead of chain? Does that work?

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KaitlynH1 made it!(author)2015-12-11

im gonna do that

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salmansheikh made it!(author)2015-12-11

Wow that was 2 years ago I made that comment :)

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DavidK592 made it!(author)2017-06-13

And here I am learning from it another 2 years later

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DaniC36 made it!(author)2017-04-09

Im gonna try to build this today ill let you know how it turns out

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Photon19 made it!(author)2016-10-04

OK. First, let me tell you, I can barely use a butter knife and duct tape. Yes. I'm that mechanically challenged. Yes, I'm a father, and I did admit that. My 6 year old came home from school and complained she never got enough time on the swing at school...so, my fingers ran across the keyboard, and this site came up. Off to the store I went. Like one of the prior posters, a tire shop was more than happy to put a gently used (and they power washed it for me too, once they found out what I was going to use it for) 16" tire in my trunk for nothing, and shook my hand on the way out, wishing me luck on my project. As you may or may not be able to tell, I'm not the tool owning guy in the neighborhood, but a $12 investment on vice grip hand pliers was worth every penny. With upgrading my drill bit, the stainless steel (to prevent rust) hardware/chains, measured all at 1/4 inch rated above 500 lbs, I spent about a $100 at Home Depot. That also included my Monster drink. 2 hours later, here are the pics. Awesome instructions - -so easy, even for a mechanically challenged father.

Thank you!!!

P.S. Do not forget the swivel at any cost!!!It's half the fun!

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RebeccaR63 made it!(author)2016-03-16

My hubby and 13 year old daughter made this last night. They used rope to hang it from the tree, but otherwise loved the instructions! Thank you so much!

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skippingstonepress made it!(author)2016-02-18

There's nothing like an old-fashioned tire swing to get kids off their electronics and using their energy and imaginations. And for those of you with children/ grandchildren in your family, check out the children's book High in the Sky by Kathleen Gauer. A bouncy, fun-to-read story that follows a child's energetic and wildly imaginative adventures - all while riding a tire swing. A book to delight young and old alike! Get your signed copy at www.skippingstonepress.net

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DeeL7 made it!(author)2016-01-10

slightly modified with tow belt instead of longer chain. kids love it!

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thomasleigh made it!(author)2015-12-13

I'm having trouble finding heavy duty eye bolts. Please could you give some guidance on the size / spec?

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KaitlynH1 made it!(author)2015-12-11

ill try it my mom and dad is taking dow my accaul backyard swing:( no fun

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CharlesD27 made it!(author)2015-10-10

Made it using these directions this week -- super easy and the kids love it!

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redcodefsu made it!(author)2015-07-19

I made the swing and it came out great!

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JoshuaG10 made it!(author)2015-06-30

This inspired me to get a tire swing! I found a used tire place that GAVE me the "junk" tire. I bought chains and links rated 660-2200 lbs so, no issue on whomever was going to get on it. I forgot the swivel. so I'm headed back tomorrow to get that! Thanks for the help!

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JoshuaG10 made it!(author)2015-06-30

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Mechymom made it!(author)2015-06-24

I followed your instructions to a point, I used an old swing to hang over the tree, all my parts came from an old swing set and I used a 19 inch tire. Except instead of using chain I used rope and its holding up, to me, my older daughter and my 3 year old

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JamieR7 made it!(author)2015-05-27

we made ours but the only problem is when our daughter (who is 3) sits on one side opposite side lifts up as she swings and there is slack in the chain. any ideas to correct this?

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Stichter made it!(author)2015-05-25

Thanks for the detailed instructions. We just made this swing this weekend and it took about an hour and $80 worth of hardware. Our branch is pretty high and the tire is really big so we got heavier load capacity components and chain. We also added braided rubber tubing as a means to protect the branch and the kids' fingers; just thread the chain through the tube or pull like you would wire through conduit.
One note our tire is pretty big and is steel reinforced so drilling the cores on the bottom was pretty tough!

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katrina.parker.543 made it!(author)2015-04-19

Appreciate this alot. We decided to do this before we saw your project. We googled the how to and this came up first. It helped us finish what we already figured out.
For an even more frugal project, we used swing hardware salvaged from an old metal swing set we found. Thanks again.

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jennifer.campbellowens made it!(author)2015-04-04

We are using your instructions to build this swing for our little guy this weekend, as an Easter present. We really appreciate your clear and thorough instructions. Thank you for sharing, and I will posts some pics as soon as we unveil!

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PhotolithographyE made it!(author)2015-03-12

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nvahalik made it!(author)2015-02-23

We used an old car tire for this one. Works like a charm and can hold almost the entire family! I didn't use a clip hook, but instead opted for some extra connector links to put it all together.

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genepreston made it!(author)2014-08-11

Great directions! You made it easy for us tool challenged people.

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ChuckB1 made it!(author)2014-07-30

It's not clear to me why you have the clip hook and how it'd be used to adjust the height of the tire from the ground. Hooking to the chain anywhere gives you the exact same height. The only obvious (to me) way to change the length from the tree is to use the connector link that closes the chain to close it with a shorter chain loop (i.e., leave some links out of the closed loop).

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hreamer made it!(author)2014-03-06

hi this is excellent!! I just bought all my hardware yesterday... will rope work as well as the chain? and how did you decide the 3 pieces of chain should be 3'? and how tall off the ground you say?

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theyankeegirl made it!(author)2014-01-02

Thank you so much for sharing this very detailed and thorough tutorial. I just "acquired" a tire from my car and have been dying to make it a swing for my 3yo, but had no idea where to begin except the ol' school rope-over-a-limb approach. I'm super excited to get this going for my first Spring project of the year!

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Angelarae made it!(author)2013-07-09

Another Tire Swing tutorial suggested running the part of the chain that will touch the limb through a piece of heavy duty garden hose to protect the tree limb. What are your thoughts on that? Also, we will be using our swing in our front yard only when our grandkids come to visit a few times a year. It appears that your system would allow us to take it down when not in use and easily re-hang it when the kids come. Is that possible with this design?

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srilyk made it!(author)2013-09-06

The garden hose will certainly help - I'd even go a step further and suggest wrapping the branch with a carpet sample square (usually available for a few dollars @ a carpet store). You basically want to avoid any rubbing of the bark. The concept is the same as wearing leather gloves when working with shovels/axes/etc. - the in between layer takes the brunt of the friction so your skin (or bark, if you happen to be an Ent or some other type of tree) stays safe.

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McBane made it!(author)2013-06-11

Ran across this post last week, after a friend gave me a very nice "used" tire from a previous tire swing (roped) and about $50 in materials, I now have a wonderful tire swing that can support a minimum of 800lbs :) Thank you for the how to and here's to the many hours of fun and enjoyment my boys will get out of this swing!!! p.s. I used a sadle connector due to buying too big a hook for my chain :)

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JAH1 made it!(author)2013-05-11

This is great tire swing. It is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for letting me know the weight limits too. My only real problem is I am hanging it from the walk-way on my dock which is metal. I am hoping if I add hose around the top chain, it will minimize the loud metal and chain clanking or grinding.

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philandy made it!(author)2013-03-30

Just finished ours, thank you so much for the idea - our monster tire and 800 lb rating can fit up to 3 heavy adults safely. However, check if all the components fit together at the shop! Also, check the weight ratings (some brands only rate to 20 lb, especially on the S hooks). I can see this being a 10+ hour project and future headache if you don't. If I build another my shopping list would be the tire, the 3 "complete" eye bolts, 6 C links, the swivel, and the 4 chain lengths; 3 C's would be to connect the chains to the tire (instead of S hooks), 1 to connect the 3 chains together to the swivel, 1 to connect the other end of the swivel to the long chain, and 1 to adjust the long chain length. The 1/4" C links are rated for heavier than the 3/8 and 1/2" S hooks (at least at Lowe's). This project cost about $100 for me with a free tire, however I can see it being under $50 if you can get the chain online / on sale.

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taragl made it!(author)2012-08-24

Thanks for this great Instructable. We followed your instructions and ended up with a perfect tire swing for our three-year-old. He's thrilled!

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bkessler826 made it!(author)2012-07-08

Excellent instructions, thank you! A few variations: instead of all chain, I used 3/4" nylon 1,450lb WLL rope from the limb (16' up). To attach to the tire, I used "swingset chain" that was already coated with plastic. Instead of 'S' hooks, I used quick-links. Everything else was exactly the same as yours. My 8yo son and I did this together as a father/son project, and he was absolutely giddy about it! :-)

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JB4ever made it!(author)2012-07-08

what would be the weight limit for this swing?

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rickluc made it!(author)2012-03-11

I've got a 4x6 beam, about 9 feet off ground, setup for a couple of swings for my 4 and 7 year old grand kids. Wondering how much room would be needed between support post for a tire swing with one of those swivel brackets? Or I could do the swing like in this forum and how much space should I leave?Thanks

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pulrich1 made it!(author)2011-12-09

Does anyone know what to coat the tires with to get them to be hard and shiny and smooth, like on a playground? I'm thinking of using Krylon plastic spray paint. That way they tires won't leave marks and detriorate in the heat/sun as the rubber leeches out its checmicals that make it soft.

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cia0cicci0 made it!(author)2011-07-19

thank you for the easy-to-understand directions and pictures. the swing (and your yard in general) are very handsome.

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ljennings made it!(author)2011-06-12

A suggestion. Wasps/hornets are territorial. If they find an existing nest they won't build in that area. I've seen decoy nests on Gardener Supply Company's webpage. Hang one of those near the swing and they shouldn't be a problem.

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alaskanjer made it!(author)2011-04-30

Does the swivel get any side load when the kids are swinging? I am about to build this for three 7 year olds and I know they will test the limits of its range of motion. I would guess the swivel's rating doesn't factor anything in besides tension.
Also, the weight rating on the components you selected assumes a static weight. A 200 pound person swinging probably produces a lot more tension at the bottom of the swing arc than a 200 pound person just sitting on the swing. That said, in addition to the safety factor that you used, there is probably also a safety factor built into the numbers printed on the packaging.

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michael.su made it!(author)2010-08-03

Thank s a bunch for this idea and great instructable! -Mike

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wbentrim made it!(author)2010-07-28

Excellent instructions and photos. I thank you and I know my grandkids will thank you. Bill

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doitagainman made it!(author)2010-07-27

Hey ya'll if you have a 1" hole saw or a big drill bit drill 3 holes in the bottom side of the tire. This will let all the H20 drain out. most side walls are reinforced with nylon not steel belts. But I have a problem, my tire is several years old the black coming off is excessive. How do I stop it? I power washed it, can I wax it?

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jonband made it!(author)2010-07-20

Great instructable here. Here's my 2 cents (from an aerospace engineer working in structures). For any given swing, if you were to start 90 degrees from the vertical, the tension in the chain at the bottom of the arc will be 3 times your weight. Therefore, PLEASE PLEASE make sure that your rope or chain working load limit (WLL) is at least 3X the maximum load of the swing. I wanted my swing to accomodate a 250 lb adult, and therefore needed components with a 750 lb WLL. The big weak link in your design here are the eyelets. I could only find eyelets with a 80 lb WLL after searching around! This means the swing is really only safe with a 80 lb child ((3-80lb eyelets * 80 lbs)/3MG)=80 lb. I strongly recommend using ubolts instead for the chain-to-tire attachments, especially if your swing will be used by adults and is potentially dangerous (my chaiin length is over 20 ft!)

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jonband made it!(author)2010-07-20

Forgot to mention my advice is against the non-welded eye bolts as pictured in your tutorial. Welded eye bolts are another story and are much stronger (but also harder to come by - neither home depot or lowes sells these in my area)

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Jayefuu made it!(author)2010-05-26

Brilliant ible :D

Just thought you might like to know that the "connector link" you describe is commonly used in climbing and is called a maillon (pronounced may-on not mal-eee-on), can be bought for a few dollars from climbing shops. Thought it might help people find them.

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bellas+nana made it!(author)2010-05-12

Instructions were great!  DH just hung our swing last weekend after purchasing everything we needed at Lowe's and he did a fab job!  We have plenty of trees in the back yard but none with an appropriate limb for the swing. My husband (former boy scout and retired Navy) advised me it was no problem...he would "lash some boards to the trees."  I was the doubting thomas but it all worked out great.  He screwed together 2 - 2x6 boards for strength and lashed them in between 2 trees, nothing was screwed into the trees.  He tested it with his 200 lb weight and all is well.  Now we just have to wait for the grandkids (7 and 5) to arrive from Germany for the month of July.  I am sure they will have tons of fun!!  Thank you adlabens for taking the time to post these instructions and inspiring us all!  I have been unable to upload photos...sorry.

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brian5sterling made it!(author)2010-05-01

Hey I just wanted to say that I used your directions and built a killer tire swing. I had rented a 43' lift for the day to cut down some tree limbs and thought ahead of time that that would be a great idea to put up a tire swing the same day. I spent about $65.00 in materials by using a heavy duty manilla rope 3/4'' that has a weight capacity of 640lbs and bought 15' of chain for the triangle down to the tire itself. The tire was free from my local motorcycle shop. They were more than happy to give away as many tires as I could take. So I grabbed 5 of them. One suggestion if you have the option is to try the tire out on your backside first before stringing it up. I had one of the five picked out but then asked my wife to see what she thought and she went and put it on her tushie and said no go. She proceeded to try out the other ones which were of different diameters and found one that "fit good"  It happened to be the Harley Davidson tire. Everything looks great and the kids love it. I've roped the tire up to an eye bolt running through a limb about 30' feet up so the kids have a nice big swing. The swivel works great and I used lithium grease on it to keep it quiet. Good suggestion.  One more suggestion that should be obvious to most folks. Watch out where the tire swings to. We have some electrical wires that our tire could hit if you were to swing high enough but most of our kids won't be swinging that high. But it could happen. I'm just saying that folks should check that before stringing up. Thanks soooo much for your helps and suggestion. They saved me money and time.
All my best
Brian Bartlett

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liandyk made it!(author)2009-09-10

Great instructions! All supplies were at Lowes and a tire store gave us a free tire. Swing is over 50 feet high and my kids love it! It cost half the cost to make than it would cost to purchase from a swing-set store. Thanks for the Instructable.

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adlabens made it!(author)2009-09-11

Liandyk, I was at a tire shop the other day, and talked with them about building another tire swing. They offered to give me one of their used tires for that purpose - they service tractor/trailers, so it was a HUGE tire & would have sat at least 4 kids, maybe 8! So, if folks are nice & don't want to use the tires for their vehicles, it seems this is a good way to get a tire! Also, with a tire that size, I'd have used four supporting chains rather than the 3 I used on the motorcycle tire. And, with 4, even on the motorcycle tire, it would have made it easier for two children to share it. That may be the only mistake I made.

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ncurrier made it!(author)2009-08-27

Ok guys...I'm a 56 year old school teacher (white haired and female) and I made one of these for my 2 year old granddaughter. It was easy, the directions are great. I did add the tubing over the chains to avoid pinched fingers. She loves it! I got all the components at Lowe's and it was worth every penny. It is the first thing she goes for when she gets out of the car. We expect many years of use. Thank you, Aldabens...good job!

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