Instructables
Picture of 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!
 
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Step 1: Pick out a tire!

Picture of 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.
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genepreston14 days ago

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

ChuckB127 days ago

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).

hreamer5 months ago
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?
theyankeegirl7 months ago
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!
Angelarae1 year ago
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?
srilyk Angelarae11 months ago
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.
McBane1 year ago
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 :)
JAH11 year ago
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.
What about using rope instead of chain? Does that work?
philandy1 year ago
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.
taragl2 years ago
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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bkessler8262 years ago
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! :-)
JB4ever2 years ago
what would be the weight limit for this swing?
rickluc2 years ago
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
pulrich12 years ago
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.
cia0cicci03 years ago
thank you for the easy-to-understand directions and pictures. the swing (and your yard in general) are very handsome.
ljennings3 years ago
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.
alaskanjer3 years ago
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.
michael.su4 years ago
Thank s a bunch for this idea and great instructable! -Mike
wbentrim4 years ago
Excellent instructions and photos. I thank you and I know my grandkids will thank you. Bill
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?
jonband4 years ago
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!)
jonband jonband4 years ago
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)
Jayefuu4 years ago
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.
bellas nana4 years ago
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.
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
liandyk4 years ago
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.
adlabens (author)  liandyk4 years ago
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.
ncurrier5 years ago
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!
adlabens (author)  ncurrier4 years ago
NCurrier, I am humbled by your praise. I'm just 6 years younger than you, but my children (ages 7 & 3 & 3) love it also. Yep, I started a bit late. But the kids love it just the same! Thank you.
arpruss5 years ago
Where can one buy a swivel?
adlabens (author)  arpruss5 years ago
If you want the kind of swivel that comes with a Rainbow Playset, you can buy them from Rainbow online. I got mine (inline swivel, not "attached" swivel) from Lowe's, but I expect Home Depot or Tractor Supply or other hardware store would have those - two rings connected with a swiveling connector. Swiveling, not sniveling. ;+)
They didn't have it at Home Depot where I initially went to price out components, but it was there at Lowes ($6-7--surprisingly expensive). I greased it with Lithium grease and it works well. It was a fun project, but harder than I expected. I coated the three chains that attach to the tire with transparent vinyl hose ($0.40/foot). The kids were very insistent on this. I learned that if one's going to thread chain through hose, one shouldn't have the chain be too close in size to the inner diameter of the hose--threading the chains was a horrid task (it helped to lubricate with bicycle chain lubricant while feeding the chain, but still it involved either two people pulling with just about all their strength, or the chain being tied to a tree and the hose being pulled with just about all my strength, one link--or even half a link--at a time). It was also surprising how dirty a used tire is. I just changed tires on our car, so I used our old tires. It took a lot of scrubbing with soap, water and wipes of different sorts before it stopped leaving black marks on cloth rubbed against it (it was still leaving light grey marks). One thing I did that I am not sure I saw in your writeup (maybe I missed it) was to drill holes in the bottom for drainage (don't want to provide nurseries for mosquito eggs!). I did 16 holes, 1" in diameter (with a hole saw). We just had a thunderstorm, and the holes work great--there are a few small puddles inside the tire, but they are less than 1/8" deep, and will disappear as soon as the sun comes out.
arpruss arpruss5 years ago
I just saw--you did drill the holes, too. :-)
cdimezza5 years ago
Very nice instuctions mate. I used about 50 feet of chain for my mission. First thing I did was get the tire. Midas was of no help, Pep Boys gave me a tire but it was a bit small so I decided to check out Just Tires. They hooked me up with a nice big truck tire. Next was onto the hardware. Home Depot had the chain. the eye hooks, washers and nuts and the Connector link which was made out of zink and weighted for 1540 pounds. They did not have rated S Hooks, quick links or swivels. I tried Graingers and Ace Hardware. Graingers could order them and Ace was very expensive. I decided to try Lowes later in the day and they had exactly what I needed. My friend came over yesterday and helped me with the install. He used to be a tree surgeon so we rigged up a baseball on a rope with a screw and he did some underhanded jerky throw and sunk it 30 feet up, between the y limb on his second try. We pulled the chain over ate lunch and got back to business. I drilled the drainage holes, mounted the S Hooks, pinhed them, cut three pieces of 4 feet chain link, attached, etc....The girls love it...Thanks bro... Chris
adlabens (author)  cdimezza5 years ago
Chris, I am so glad that you have completed this as a successful project. We've had ours up for over a full year now, and it's going strong, no problems from steel belts, wasps or hornets, or even tire-black rubbing off on kids' clothes. I would suggest, however, that this small size tire attached with three eye-bolts is suitable for just about one child at a time. If I had used four eye-bolts (& four hanging chains), it would have been suitable for two small children. But, this way, even one big child can swing in it. I am considering building a second one, a "big brother" to this one. I found a big truck tire shop on the Interstate that would give me a huge tire off an 18 wheeler. If I go get it and hang it up, it will be exactly the same as this one, but will have four eye-hooks and hanging chains so that two or four bigger kids can swing on it together. But, those tires are pretty big & I'd probably have to take the trailer out there to get one. They charge several hundred dollars for a used tire, but when I told him I was wanting it for a tire swing, he told me he'd find one I could have for free (I was there fixing their phone lines). So, that's a possibility, but only after I complete the backyard play structure (a couple of Rainbow play sets) that I'm building. I will move the old tire swing from the broken branch of the tree (the branch is now completely dead) and will hang it from the swing bar of one of the play sets. I'll have to see how it fits and then I'll decide if I'm going to go get the huge tire to hang on the other end of the swing bar.
kyrsyan5 years ago
One suggestion to add: use a bias ply tire. These are trailer tires and have no steel belting in them that may injure you or the children.
adlabens (author)  kyrsyan5 years ago
Definitely, a steel-belted tire with steel showing through should be rejected and not used in any capacity, much less in a child's toy. However, unless the tire were badly worn and only about a balloon's thickness of rubber covering the steel belts, I'd have to say it's probably a non-issue to use steel-belted tires. My thinking is that the rubber that covers the steel belts gets MUCH more wear & tear when mounted on a vehicle and driven. However, on a tire swing, about the only thing that is going to get any wear and tear is the lip and the sides where the chains mount, which have no steel belts in them anyway. My motorcycle tire (which I used) is steel-belted. The only REAL danger that I can find with this whole setup is if wasps or hornets are allowed to build nests inside the tire. But, I usually give the inside of the tire a good dose of some organic insect repellent, usually citronella oil, to make it an uncomfortable abode for said insects. But, like I said, you are absolutely correct that visible steel belts would negate a tire's eligibility for use in such an application. Thank you for that reminder.
The warning was actually given to me by the guys at the tire shop. Of course since this shop sells used tires, it is quite possible that any tires they were willing to give away would be in really rough shape. But the trailer tire is in good condition. I will follow your suggestion for the citronella oil. I have to watch for that in our yard. BTW, thanks for this instructable!
adlabens (author)  kyrsyan5 years ago
You are most welcome for the instructable! You can get the citronella oil at your local "health foods" store (Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Sun Harvest, etc.), wherever they sell essential oils. You can order bottles of them online, too. I use them when I'm going to do work in the yard and there has been an infestation of mosquitoes - after the rains but before I've emptied any open containers full of water. A few drops of citronella oil around the pants legs & shirt openings, and the mosquitoes stay away. We are about to move the tire swing off that fallen limb. We have managed to acquire a couple of Rainbow wooden playsets that I'm currently pressure washing and rehabbing the rotten wood, then will put them together so that they form one big structure. Somewhere on the structure I shall mount the tire swing (none of the Rainbow playsets we got have a tire swing). So, that should be another fun project, tho I'm not really instructable-ing the process.
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