Introduction: 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!

Step 1: 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.

Step 2: Attach the Eye-Bolts (Part 1)

Next, flip the tire over so that it's top-side up. This is where we're going to attach the eye-bolts that'll attach to the chains that will support the tire swing. Since a triangle is the most stable plane, you'll want to find three spots, equally spaced around the sidewall, for each eye-bolt. You can use all kinds of geometric formulas for determining the ideal spots. I simply picked an arbitrary spot for my first hole. I went ahead & drilled it with a drill bit just barely big enough for the shaft of the eye-bolt. I put it in a spot where the fender washer won't stick out over the curvature of the tire. Here's what that looks like:

Step 3: Attach the Eye-Bolts (Part 2)

Then take a string & approximate where the 2nd hole would be, then use the string to see if the 3rd hole would be equal distance from the first two. Finding that it wasn't, I adjusted the string & tried it again. This process took three attempts before I hit the perfect distance. I drilled the other two holes. Then, I threaded the eye bolts with one nut & a fender washer. Then I threaded the eye-bolt through the tire. On the inside of the tire, I placed another fender washer on the eye-bolt, then the lock washer, & finally the 2nd nut, which I tightened down. Here are a few pics of the hardware, in the sequence in which they are to be attached:

Step 4: Attach the Eye-Bolts (Part 3)

The tire sidewall is now being squeezed between the two big flat fender washers. This prevents the smaller nut from pulling thru the sidewall as it gets stressed by the weight of the person swinging. Here's another view of that:

Step 5: Attach S-Hook (Part 1)

Next, take an S-hook & put it through the eye-bolt, like this:

Step 6: Attach S-Hook (Part 2)

Using a pair of big Vice Grip brand pliers, squeeze the attached side of the s-hook so that it eventually is closed around the eye-bolt. This takes several squeezings of the Vice Grips to make it happen. Adjust the Vice Grips pretty wide and squeeze them, closing the s-hook just a little bit. Open up the Vice Grips & tighten down the adjustment bolt, making them a little smaller, and squeeze them tight again, closing the s-hook a little bit more. Repeat this process, making the Vice-Grips smaller each time, until the s-hook is completely closed around the eye-bolt. Remember this process, because you'll have to do it on all the s-hook attachments.

Step 7: Attach the Eye-Bolts (Part 4)

Speaking of doing it again, do it again for the 2nd s-hook on the 2nd eye-bolt and for the 3rd s-hook on the 3rd eye-bolt.

Here's where we are right now:

Step 8: Attaching the Chains

Now that the s-hooks are attached to the eye-bolts, it's time to attach each of the 3' chains to each of the attached s-hooks. Here are the pictures of that:

Step 9: Attach the Top S-Hook

Next, take the 4th S-Hook & attach the tops of all 3 chains to it, clamping it tight with the Vice-Grip brand pliers just like the first three. Here are the pictures of that:

Step 10: Top Attachment Hardware

Now, there are three pieces of hardware, to attach to the top of this last s-hook, that will complete the tire swing portion of the project. By the picture of them, it should be obvious their purpose, once you see them. The ratchet is in the picture for size reference. Going from left to right is the order that the items will be attached to the s-hook. First is the swivel. This will allow the tire swing to swivel freely. The 2nd piece is the Connector Link between the swivel & the Clip Hook. The Clip Hook is in the sequence so that the height of the tire swing will be adjustable to the hanging chain. If you don't want/need it adjustable, then either use the Connector Link to attach it to the hanging chain, or use another s-hook. The s-hooks came in packs of two, so I had 4 of them, using 3 at the tire & 1 at the top of the chains. Instead of getting another two-pack of s-hooks, I got the Connector Link (I didn't want any leftover parts!).

Step 11: Swivel to the S-Hook

Here are 3 shots of connecting the Swivel to the top s-hook:

Step 12: Top Attachment Hardware (2)

Here's a shot with the Clip-Hook connected to the Connector Link connected to the Swivel connected to the S-Hook connected to the hip bone connected to the knee bone! well, you'll get the picture. Tighten down/up the screw closure on the Connector Link, and the Tire Swing is now ready to hang. Here are the pics:

Step 13: Long Chain

Here's a pic of the 12' of chain that I strung from the tree branch.

Step 14: Hanging the Chain

Here's a pic of the 12' Hanging Chain hanging loosely from the branch in the back yard (this is a temporary location as this branch is going to be cut off (it broke last year but is still alive until I put it out of our misery - and the tire swing will be moved to the swing set that I'm going to build, once I get the structure in place).

Step 15: Connector Link on Hanging Chain

Here's a pic of the Connector Link I used to close the Hanging Chain.

Step 16: Swing Attachment With Hanging Chain

Here are a couple of pictures of the swing attachment with the Hanging Chain:

Step 17: Completed Project

And, here's the final picture of the finished project (same as the first one):

Step 18: Final Notes:

Let me provide some final notes. I used components that were rated at a weight capacity greater than anything that'd be on the swing. The s-hooks were rated at over 600 pounds, the Clip Hook was over 500 pounds, the Connector Links were over 500 pounds, and the Swivel was over 400 pounds. This means that ANY adult who can fit between the chains, or can stand on the tire, will be safely held by the hardware used. If you want, you can certainly use lighter-duty components, which will naturally cost less money. But, I wanted to test the tire swing, and I'm 200 pounds, so I wanted to make SURE that it was safe! So, I went with double weight protection just to be certain. The whole thing, except for the tire, cost about $60.00. You could buy the kit from one of the playset manufacturers. The kit runs just a hair under $100.00. Doing it this way gave me the flexibility to do what I wanted and hang it how I wanted, and saved money along the way. If anyone has any comments, I'm interested in hearing them. But, don't ask me to do an instructable on how to build the completed playset! I'm planning on building two elevated forts with a swingset between them & a walkway above them, tho the vertical supports for the forts are being planned to use telephone poles! And, if anyone does use this to build their own tire swing, I'd really like to know.

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