Introduction: DIY Swing With Arbor

So i was approached by a neighbor that wanted to make their back yard a nicer place to hang out and they wanted a swing. As there is no porch to hang the swing on, I had to construct an arbor. When building outdoor furniture, there are definitely species that hold up better in the elements and the most common are Cedar, Cypress, and Redwood. Since i live in the southern U. S. the two most plentiful species for me are Cedar and Cypress. I brought a piece of each cedar and cypress to the neighbor and she really liked how the cedar looked so we went with that! I love building with cedar because it has some really great colors and makes my shop smell AMAZING! I started on this project by making plans that are available on my website,


To get started you will need one of the previously mentioned species of wood (cedar, cypress, or redwood) there are other species that do well outdoors, these three are just the most common and widely available.

You will need wood glue, screws, brad nails, some chain, 4 eye bolts for hanging the swing, 6 "S" hooks to join the chain to the eye bolts. Galvanized carriage bolts, nuts and washers.

Step 1: Layout the Main Frame

Cut the four main posts to the frame to the desired overall height. Begin to add support by attaching the bottom and top braces. I held these braces in temporarily with screws that were later replaced by carriage bolts. I just used the screws to allow the frame to stand on it's own while beginning construction.

Step 2: Cut Mortise and Tenon Joint for the Middle Stretcher

The middle stretcher in the frame is what the swing will connect to and as it bears a great deal of the load when people are in the swing, i wanted to make sure it had a solid connection to the rest of the frame. I decided to go with a mortise and tenon joint to add a lot of structural strength. Cut the mortise and tenon and install the middle stretcher in the main frame of the arbor.

Step 3: Cut and Install the 45 Degree Braces to the Frame

Cut and install the 45 degree braces to the main Arbor frame. There are four on the top and four on the bottom and these braces really help in keeping the frame from racking (swaying) especially when people are actually swinging. They don't seem like much but these eight braces are vital in the stability of the overall build.

Step 4: Cut All Parts and Assemble Octagon Braces and Lattice

Now that the major parts of the frame are stable, it's time to begin cutting and assembling the more decorative elements. I cut the parts for the octagon braces, lattice and the top. These parts offer some shade while seated in the swing but they also help to tie all the parts together to make the structure of the arbor more sound. I did simple pockethole joints for the octagon braces to tie them to the outer posts of the frame. I began to install the lattice work by placing the first piece at the starting point then making spacer blocks for the distance of the height and length they were to be laid out. I joined the lattice pieces to each other using wood glue and a small dab of super glue, so i would have a strong bond (wood glue) that would dry quickly ( super glue) and i could keep moving quickly and not have to leave clamps on each part too long.

After the lattice inserts were assembled, I joined them to the frame using exterior screws that i later counter-bored and plugged with cedar plugs to match the grain.

Step 5: Begin Construction of the Swing Frame

Because the swing frame parts are identical, it is a good idea to really make them IDENTICAL. This is achieved by first making templates to follow. Templates are great because they allow you to make minor changes on your design using cheap materials so you don't waste your valuable stock for the project. Once you have your templates dialed in, you can attach them to your actual stock using double sided tape, then rough cut the shape on the bandsaw and finish the parts with a flush trim bit in a router. This makes accurate, repeatable parts that you can make as many times as you like. Make sure that the angle on the swing back is correct and all three sub assemblies are exactly the same. Cut the holes in the armrest for the chain to pass through as well as the hole for the cupholder.

Step 6: Cut the Swing Seat Slats and Assemble the Swing

Now that you have your swing frame parts dialed in, it's time to assemble the rest of the swing. Cut the seat slats and begin to attach them to the frame. I use the same method to join the seat slats as I did for the lattice work. I use wood and super glues so i have a strong bond that cures quickly so i can move through the project without using a ton of clamps. Space the Frame parts correctly and begin installing all the seat slats while using spacer blocks to ensure the slats are all an even space apart. I start at the bottom and work my way up the seat to the back and wrap around the back slightly.

Step 7: Construct Cupholder Bottom

To make the cupholder bottom i wanted to use a couple of small dowels and a thin strip of wood. I wanted the dowels to match the rest of the swing so i needed cedar dowels. Since i cant buy them, i had to make them on the router table. Once I had the dowels, i laid out the space for them on the armrest and drilled a small recess to inset the end of the dowels. This small assembly is held in place with CA glue alone since it wont need to bear much weight or stress.

Step 8: Connect Eye Bolts and Chain to Hang the Swing

Take care in your placement of the eye bolts that the swing will hang from. All the pressure is on these few points so make sure their location makes sense structurally. Test where your chain hangs and the lengths before making the final cuts. Hang the swing and make sure you like the way it hangs, this will differ depending on each person, so make sure you are happy before making the cuts on the links of chain.

Step 9: Prep All Surfaces and Apply Finish

Sand all surfaces. This is easier if you break down the main components into sub assemblies, move them so you can get to all the parts. Apply your finish of choice. For outdoor projects I usually use Spar Urethane, as it offers great protection for years to keep your project looking great!

Step 10: Move Swing to Permanent Location and Reassemble

I thought a lot about the fact that i would have to move the swing to it's final home while designing and building this project. It breaks down to only 6 major parts that are relatively easy to reassemble quickly. Make sure you like where it's at and put all the major parts back together. Hang the swing and enjoy!

Step 11: Go Watch the Full Build Video!

You can watch the build video here:

If you want to support the channel and have an easier path to making your own swing, you can get the plans on my website here:

Thanks for following along, now GO BUILD SOMETHING!