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.
Step 1: Step 1: Get Your Hardware
- 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
- 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
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
- 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)
Step 4: Attach the Rope
- Climb the tree (or use a ladder, if you have one)
- Drill a hole in the branch (yes, this is better for the tree than having a rope wear away it's bark)
- Put your eye bolt through and tighten the regular nut over the washers
- REALLY tighten the lock nut against the regular nut
Step 5: Enjoy
Step 6: A Note on Tree Health
- Protecting the tree's bark is important. If a tree or branch is girdled, any tissue above the damaged bark will die.
- Looping a rope over a tree branch is likely to damage the bark. This is mentioned in many of the articles I found, and I witnessed it happen in my first attempt at a rope swing (see photo above).
- Carpet or a garden hose can be used to reduce the friction of a rope loop, but it can be tricky to absolutely eliminate the friction and avoid damaging the bark as the tree grows.
- A better solution is to use an eye bolt. This is the technique used by arborists to support branches, the technique used by this famous tree-swing hanger, and the technique recommended by almost every result of a google search for "rope swing and tree health". A small, clean hole is unlikely to damage the tree, and according to several sources the tree will tend to grow over the bolt completely after a few years.
Landscape Contractor Recommendation: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/asktoh/question/0,,1212571,00.html
Swing Company Hanging Instructions: http://www.breezyswings.com/hanging-instructions
Another Swing Company's Hanging Instructions: http://www.vintageswings.com/hang.html
Discussion on an Arborist forum: http://www.arboristsite.com/homeowner-helper-forum/81910.htm
Chapter from "Backyard Recreation" book: http://goo.gl/yI1kNY