Free-standing A-Frame Swing Set

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Introduction: Free-standing A-Frame Swing Set

This is a BIG sturdy swing set! The top beam is about 11 feet above the ground. The footprint is about 13 feet by 13 feet. It took me two days to build it,being careful and figuring it out as I went along. You might be able to knock it out in a day if you are efficient with your time. Total estimated cost for everything (not tools) should be less than $600, give or take. You'll need the help of two strong adults for one of the steps.

Step 1: Step 1: Buy Your Lumber and Hardware

Lumber:
Pressure treated pine. Buy from your favorite home inprovement store or lumber store. Pick the straightest pieces you can find. Buy ahead of time if possible to let dry (lumber is typically very wet and swollen at the store).

One - 4" x 6" x 12'
Four - 4" x 4" x 12'
Two - 2" x 8" x 10'

See pic 1.

Free-Standing A-Frame Brackets:

I ordered two from swingworks.com ($95+shipping).

See pic 2.

Swings.

One "Deluxe Platform Swing" from HearthSong.com

Two PlayStar Commercial Grade Green and Black Swing

See pic 3.

Swing hangers:

PlayStar Commercial grade swing hangers.

See pic 4.

Hardware.

4 - 3/16" Chain Quick Link (2 more if you want to lower the platform swing)

4 - 2.5' lengths of 3/16" zinc plated Chain (a little more if you want to lower the platform swing)

10 - 3/8" x 5" Carriage Bolts (two of these could be 4 1/2 inches long, if you can find that size)

10 - 3/8" lock washers

10 - 3/8" washers

10 - 3/8" nuts

32 - 1.5" Star head pan head self-tapping screws (manufacturer of bracket recommended 2" panhead screws, but I couldn't find any in the store. These worked great, no pre-drilling, and wide head, color is nice too)

See pic 5.

Step 2: Assemble Tools

Shown above:

3/8" woodboring spade drill bit (at least 6")
1 1/8 woodboring spade drill bit
2 clamps (4 if you have them)

Not shown:

Drill

9/16" socket

adapter to connect socket to drill

rubber mallet

hammer

1/4" drill bit

star drive bit

ladder

measuring tape

level

ruler

pencil/marker

planer or rasp

sandpaper and block

Step 3: Attach Hangers and Brackets to Beam

Attach swing hangers to the 4 x 6 beam.

See pic 1 figure 1 above for lengths for the *center* (where the chain hangs) of each hanger if using the swings shown in this project. You'll need to measure/mark where the four lag bolts are to be driven into the beam for each hanger. The platform swing needs a larger width for the hangers. If using other swings, separate evenly, leaving at least 13 inches in between the center of a hanger belonging to one swing and the next hanger for the other swing, and leaving at least 13 inches from the end of the beam to the center of the of one swing's hanger. Measure carefully, and make sure each hanger is centered on the beam and are square with the beam. After marking the holes, use a 1/4" drill bit to pretap holes for lag bolts. Use the washers and bolts that came wit hthe hangers. Use a drill and a 9/16" socket to drive the 24 lag bolts mostly in (not all the way). Then hand tighten the bolts.

Attach the brackets to the beam

You may need to use a mallet and clamps to get the brackets all the way on the beam, or possibly a planer/rasp on the edges of the beam - that depends on how dry your lumber is and the size tolerence. Per bracket instructions, mark where the carriage bolts will go, then drill through the beam using the 3/8" boring bit, being very careful to go in straight. If you miss the mark, bore in from the other side and make sure it's a straight path all the way through. Clamp the bracket on the beam tightly and then install the carriage bolt with a washer, lock washer and nut. Repeat for the other side. Using clamps to keep bracket tight against the beam, use a drill and star drive to attach the screws to the beam through the 16 holes in the brackets. See pic 2.

Step 4: Raise Beam on Legs

* You'll need two extra people for this step. *

Bring your lumber to your site. Place the beam on the ground about where it will be when the set is complete. Put cardboard under each end of the beam to prevent stamping dirt inside the bracket slots for the legs.

Place one of the legs in the bracket ( the other bracket slot should be faced down). You may need to plane or rasp the edges of the 4 x 4 so it will go all the way in the bracket and won't get snagged on the corners of the bracket opening.

While one person raises the bracket having a leg in it, the other person raises one end of the other leg until the bracket slot and the leg are oriented to connect. See pic.

Make sure both legs are inserted all the way in the slots.

Place your ladder next to the side of the beam on the ground. With your helpers, raise the end of the beam and rest it on the top of the ladder. Plane or rasp edges of legs if needed like you did for the other legs. While one person is on the ladder (careful!) and while two other people partially insert the legs into the open slots of the bracket, slowly lift up the beam until the legs slide into the bracket slots.

After the legs are in place, make sure each leg is all the way into the slot. Square up the bottoms of the legs, measuring the diagonal length between the legs. If your swing in not on level ground, spread out the legs connected at the same bracket on the side that is higher and/or push in the legs on the side that is lower. Get everything in position before attached the a frame cross pieces.

Step 5: Brace Legs (make a Frames)

Attach a 2x8 to the outside of the frame using the clamps. Measure the same length up from the bottom of each leg (e.g. 48 inches) and mark on the leg. Adjust the position of the 2x8 so the top of the board is at the mark on the leg. Mark the diagonal line on the board where you'll need to cut. Remove the board and make the cuts. Reposition the board back with the clamps. See first pic.

Drill holes for carriage bolts and attach.
Measure down the length of the leg 1" from where the top of the board meets the leg. Measure down another 4" from that mark. As shown in figure 2 of pic 2, measure and mark points in the center of the inside face of the leg that line up with the 1" and 4" marks. (Does that make sense?) Also see pic 3. Use the 1 1/8" drill bit and drill in the leg at the two marks about 1 inch depth. Make sure you go straight in by ensuring the initial circle cut by the bit is even. Them use the 3/8" bit to drill all the way through the leg and through the board. Insert the carriage bolts through from the outside. Use a washer, lock washer and nut and tighten until the square part of the carriage bolt is embedded in the wood. Repeat on the other leg.

Do this step again for the other a frame.

Step 6: Install Screws Into Legs at Brackets

Get up on the ladder and using your drill and the star drive, screw the pan head screws into the legs through the holes in the brackets.

Step 7: Attach Swings

Use the extra chain and quick links to hang the swings.

Sand any splintery parts of the frame where kids might get snagged.

Have fun!

Step 8: Anchor Legs to Ground

This swing is pretty sturdy, but for extra safety, anchor the legs to the ground (especially if adults will be swinging).

9 People Made This Project!

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30 Comments

0
pearlcub
pearlcub

2 months ago

Can anyone answer what the width of the star 1.5" Star head pan head self-tapping screws are?
Thank you

1
BethanyF17
BethanyF17

Question 3 years ago on Step 8

My husband is thinking about building something like this. How do you anchor the legs to the ground?

0
Xango
Xango

Answer 6 months ago

I just built mine also and im wondering how to anchor it also. Seems like concrete is the safest?

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darinandalina
darinandalina

11 months ago

Decided to build this swing set because of the sturdiness and the simplicity of it. It wasn't as nearly expensive to build as the original poster quoted it to be. I think all in, I was about $200 but I was able to reuse some hardware off my old rotten swing set (swing hangers and 1 swing). I have yet to put the other 2 swings on it yet but will do so in the near future.
The A frame brackets from swingworks.com are discontinued, so I found some better ones that were $40 cheaper than the ones recommended! Wayfair had a very nice set for $76 and I like the design better.
https://www.wayfair.com/outdoor/pdp/eastern-jungle-gym-easy-1-2-3-a-frame-metal-swing-set-bracket-ejgm1055.html?csnid=2258D1EC-9A14-40A4-BCDC-728F8E7A30EE&_emr=ce5e822c-f81b-4fdb-9fce-3d192bbf1be8&wfcs=cs9&_eml=9626f48a-9b89-40df-acd1-39e783513029&refid=EML_21969&source=graymatter
They are 1 piece and not 2 piece (per end) and come with lag screws to secure the boards.
(see pic)

I had to put 2 of the legs on my swingset about 2 foot into the ground to level it off. That is why it may not look at high on one side compared to the other. I would recommend putting it on level ground it will save a lot of digging time! lol

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0
mbchambers
mbchambers

Reply 10 months ago

Hiello! I'm almost done getting all of the pieces for this and I had a question: it seems the platform swings towards an edge, but couldvyoy put it at the center, or would that be too much stress at the middle of a long span? I was thinking that a middle position would give the most space for 360Β° spinning, especially with the two side swings pulled out of the way.

Also, I went and got a 4x6x16 beam, thinking that the extra 4' sticking out one end would give me more options for another station. I'm not sure if that would need more support or not... Maybe something gentle like a climbing rope or hammock.

0
tglass
tglass

Reply 9 months ago

How did the 16' top work? Have any pictures? I am curious about having a 4' extention as well.

0
darinandalina
darinandalina

Reply 9 months ago

I don’t think a extra 4’ will make it much weaker in the middle. It certainly not enough for a child to make it bend much, if any at all. I had enough trouble putting the 12' beam up by myself. I hope you have help for the 16 footer. Good luck

0
JacobM215
JacobM215

2 years ago

Your instructions say
One - 4" x 6" x 12'
Four - 4" x 4" x 12'
Two - 2" x 8" x 10'
But in the pic it looks like the 4*4s are smaller than the 4*6? Are the sizes correct?

0
adiemfamily
adiemfamily

Reply 2 years ago

Yeah, standard lumber dimensions are actually smaller than they say (e.g. 2” x 4” are actually 1.5” x 3.5”). Otherwise the dimensions are right.

0
JacobM215
JacobM215

Reply 2 years ago

I know that, but I was looking at the pics of the lumbar you have, and the 2*4 does not appear to be the same length as the 2*6. The lumbar dimensions you have listed show that both should be 12 feet. Just curious...

0
khaymanbb
khaymanbb

Reply 10 months ago

I'm guessing you mean 4x4 and 4x6. Yes, they're the same size. The angle is almost 45 degrees, so being 12 feet long 4x4's, they're still about 10 1/2 feet off the ground due to the angle of the 4x4's. My 10 foot chains hung about 6 inches off the ground when I hung them, so had to lower them around 12 links to be child seat high. Also, I used a 2x6x8 for the side bars, not a 10 foot board. I wanted the board higher on the legs, so I can later attach a playhouse deck to the 2x6.

0
khaymanbb
khaymanbb

10 months ago

Just built this for my 10 year old and 5 year old to replace a $500 metal swingset I bought 5 years ago that completely wore out. Swing chains broke, the middle was about ready to snap when I started this project. I went with the twelve foot 4x4's for the legs as well,and bought the brackets on Amazon for $75 along with heavy duty swing hangers for $29 a set (bought two initially, just ordered a third for a 48 inch circular net swing). The hardest part was transporting the twelve foot treated lumber without a truck! And man, that stuff is freaking heavy. Get a buddy to help, that twelve foot 4x6 had to weigh at least 100 lbs. Treated wood is green, very wet wood, so it's at least four times heavier than normal wood. Plan to wait at least a year or two before you need to stain it too, or it'll just be a waste. This thing is humongous! I had to buy 10 foot long chain, four strands for $9.95 each, at Home Depot for the swings, this thing is tall. Make sure you do a 4D lookaround in your yard, as just looking left right and down isn't enough, look up! Power lines or cable lines can easily be as tall as this thing. I'm going to dig a 6 inch hole under each foot, attach an anchor, then fill it will concrete to make it sturdy, as my 208 lb self is planning on swinging while I smoke meat in the backyard. Good thing too, the 2x6's on the sides, you can also build and attach a playhouse deck on one side to add more fun. That's much more expensive though, as you need a lot more boards. That's for the future though!

0
tompoulin1ae
tompoulin1ae

Question 11 months ago

How do you download your designs?

5
MurryC
MurryC

1 year ago

Not sure how long it's been since you built the set, but how has it held up? My research has shown that most manufacturers suggest a limitation of 8 feet on the legs but I'm considering building with 12 feet so that adults could swing. Have you used the swings yourself and have you noticed any issues with the 12' legs? Also, any sagging with the long beam? Any regrets or things you'd do different if you started from scratch? Thanks for the great article and your feedback!

0
jlittle2004
jlittle2004

1 year ago on Step 7

Very Nice! Liked it so much I had to build it. Thanks for sharing, my kids love it!

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Salesman77
Salesman77

5 years ago

One more question - I have some _yaw_ in mine... any suggestion for how to get them to swing _straight_??

0
Kevin and BeckyE
Kevin and BeckyE

Reply 2 years ago

Make sure the chains hang straight up and down without a twist

0
MelodyA16
MelodyA16

3 years ago

What was your total cost to build this?

0
just_do_it
just_do_it

4 years ago

How much weight can it bear?

0
just_do_it
just_do_it

4 years ago

How much weight can it bear?