Picture of Rope Swing with Monkey's Fist
So you're not satisfied with a skinny rope, a granny-knot, and a branch that wouldn't hold a squirrel? Learn to do it the right way.

An eye bolt will keep your rope from rubbing the bark off of the tree and/or wearing through. It'll also make the swing much smoother.

A monkey's fist will give you a place to sit (or stand) while your swing. And, let's face it, it will look awesome.
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Step 1: Step 1: Get your hardware

Picture of Step 1: Get your hardware
For about $15 at Home Depot or Lowes, you can get:
  • 1x clevis shackle (a nice big one; mine was rated for something like 2000 lb)
  • 1x eye bolt (long enough to go through the branch you've chosen)
  • 1x regular nut
  • 1x lock nut
  • 2x washers
If you don't already have a rope, get one while you're at the hardware store.
  • My rope is nylon, about 30 feet long and about 1.5 inches thick. It cost me somewhere around $20. 
  • You need 10-15 feet of rope for the monkey's fist knot
  • Thicker is better: no one wants to cut their hands on a thin rope, even if it's strong enough.

Step 2: Tie the Monkey's Fist

Picture of Tie the Monkey's Fist
Do this first.

You can't judge exactly how long the rope will be once this knot is tied. If the rope is already hung, you'll probably end up with a knot that is too high or dragging the ground.

The concept is pretty simple.  This link shows all you really need to know. 

The execution is more difficult, especially with a big rope. The images above show my method.

Step 3: Get ready to attach to the tree

Picture of Get ready to attach to the tree
Assemble your hardware:
  • washers and nuts on the eye bolt threads
  • clevis shackle on the eye of the eye bolt
  • rope looped through clevis shackle and tied in a knot (an overhand loop is easy and strong)
If you're working alone (like me), put tools in a bag that you can hoist up into the tree.
antioch1 year ago
There are only a few cases where a tree is damaged to repair it. Drilling cables through a split branch to repair it is mostly used for aesthetic reasons and when you're on a tight budget. In a few exceptions it can help keep the branch alive for a little longer. Drilling through a branch is a serious injury and will weaken it.
The 'swallowing' or growing around a farmers fence is an entirely different thing. At least to the tree. Like growing skin over a wound, it takes ages. That's the speed of trees from ahuman perspective.

Old bike tires help prevent ropes wearing into a branch. You can either pull the rope through the tube or you can unfold the tire mantle and wrap it around the branch where you want to strap the rope over it.
No matter how hard I try I can't do it right
Markdaman91 year ago
That was an amazingly written article! I am extremely excited to make this myself.
Thank you!
fran=11 year ago
you did a good job the eye bolt is a excellent idea,that's the way the tree people cable branches that are weak till the tree grows more.it doesn't hurt the branch much less damage the tree.the one thing I would do is put a tie wire through the hole in the clevis pin to the u part they have a way of coming lose
solobo (author)  fran=11 year ago
good idea
Kdemon1 year ago
Well done sir, how did you get up into the tree... Climb or Ladder?
solobo (author)  Kdemon1 year ago
I climbed, just because I didn't have a ladder.
How dare you damage a tree in this way, that is really really unnecessary. I am, it would appear others are too, shocked by this vandalism.
Bravo for scathing this unworthy scalawag. It's going to confuse all the poor squirrels too.
Yes they will get confused about the nuts!
qawdrg1 year ago
Дерево не жалко??? Надо применить другой метод крепления качелей!!!
keng1 year ago
a monkeyfist stopper?! you are HARD CORE SIR!!!
marhar1 year ago
I don't have a convenient tree, but was able to put the monkey knot to good use on a light fixture string. Thanks!!
perryb1 year ago
A tree will "skin" over a wound almost immediately. This bold will have no effect on it's health. Anyone who has seen an old farmer fence with a tree grown right over it knows this.
wabi_sabi1 year ago
I used to work for a tree company and the way they would reinforce two branches from splitting apart is by drilling through the branches and attaching cables to pull it together. Very similar to how it's done here. He would also cut the bark away under the washer so it would be directly on wood.. Anyways my point is they were certified arborists.
I just love swings! You did an awesome job with yours! I love that you also did so much research before even attaching it to the tree. Nicely done :)