DIY Porch Swing (Free Templates!)




This might seem like a big project, but it is actually very simple and doable even for a beginner. I’ll be throwing in alternatives to tools so even if you don’t have a shop full of tools, you can make this swing with just a jigsaw and a drill. Visit my website for other DIY/woodworking projects!

I make all my swings from cedar because it’s a wood that is naturally rot resistant. So if you left a cedar board outside untreated it would hold up longer than something like pine. However, cedar is more expensive so you can purchase pine instead and follow all the same steps. If you go the route of building it from pine, you just have to make sure to seal it really well and often.

Here is my material list:

10 – 1 x 2 x 8

3 – 1 x 4 x 8

2 – 1 x 6 x 8

14 – 1/4″ flat washers

14 – 1/4″ nylon nuts

12 – 1/4 x 2 carriage bolts

2 – 1/4 x 3 carriage bolts

2 – Small S hooks

2 – Large S hooks

1 – Box of 1 5/8″ exterior screws

17′ of chain

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Step 1: Sand Your Boards

I sanded the back side of all my boards. Cedar is very powdery so be sure to wear a respirator.

Step 2: Trace the Templates

I took the templates (below) and traced them on my boards until I had the correct number of each piece. You will need:

4 – Bottom Supports

4 – Back Supports

2 – Cup Holder Bottoms

2 – Cup Holder Backs

2 – Arm Fronts

2 – Arms

1 – Footer

Note: The footer is not included in the templates since it’s a big rectangle, however the dimensions are 43″x 2 3/4″

Step 3: Cut Out the Pieces

Once I had everything traced, I cut it all out using my bandsaw. Alternative: If you don’t have a bandsaw you can use a jigsaw.

Tip: In each group, I made sure to cut one as perfect as possible, then just rough cut the remaining so that I could use a flush trim bit to get them identical. Alternative: If you do not have a router, or a flush trim bit then just take your time cutting out all the different pieces with the jigsaw.

Step 4: Make Holes in the Arms

Next I went to the drill press with the arms and first used a 7/8″ paddle bit to drill a hole that will later be used for the chain. Alternative: If you don’t have a paddle bit then use a regular drill bit to make a starter hole then use a jigsaw to cut the hole. If you do not have a drill press then use a regular drill.

I also used the paddle bit to make a starter hole in the cup holder area so that I could get use a jigsaw to cut it out.

Step 5: Round Over Edges

With all the pieces cut I put a round over bit in my router and went over everything except the bottom and back supports. On the arms I went over both sides but on the vertical arm support, cup holder pieces, and footer I only went over one side (make sure it’s the smooth side). Alternative: If you don’t have a router than don’t worry about this step. You can leave your pieces with the factory edges on them or you can take some sandpaper and ease the edges a little that way.

Step 6: Start Assembly

  • A carriage bolt is distinguishable because it has a build up of material in the shape of a square right under the head but before you get to the threads. So instead of just slipping it into into a hole and the head sitting flush like a regular bolt, you have to grab a hammer and give it a slight tap…just enough to get it started, then when you tighten down on the nut it will finish sucking that square build up into the wood and keep it from rotating when you tighten down on it.
  • I drilled a pilot hole on all of my holes with a countersink bit.
  • I used 1 5/8″ exterior screws throughout the entire build.

Next, I started joining things together. I first took the footer and one vertical arm support and lined them up where the bottom of the vertical arm support is flush with the bottom of the footer. Then I used the drill press to drill two 1/4″ holes. Tip: After you drill the first hole, take a 1/4″ bolt and stick it in the hole you just drilled. This will make sure the holes stay aligned perfectly while you are drilling your second hole, which will prevent alignment issues when you’re bolting things together. Alternative: If you don’t have a drill press just use your regular drill.

Step 7: Assembly of the Footer

I placed a 1/4″ x 2″ carriage bolt in each hole then used a hammer to tap them into place. Then I put a washer and a nylon nut on each carriage bolt and tighten them down.

Note!: In the photo I have the footer behind the vertical arm supports, however if you use my templates the footer needs to be in front or everything will be slightly off. (This was my personal swing so I changed a few things while building it).

Step 8: Assembly of the Bottom and Back Supports

Next I joined the bottom and back supports. I would first grab one of each and align them so that their angles matched up with one another. Then I drilled two 1/4″ holes, again sticking a bolt in the first hole to keep it’s position while I drilled the second. Once all four supports were drilled, I would tap in the 1/4″ x 2″ carriage bolts then put on a washer, nylon nut, and tighten it all down.

Note: I assembled two back supports on the left side of the bottom support, and two on the right.

Step 9: Assembly

To join the bottom/back support to the footer, I used a speed square to make sure I was attaching it straight. Once the speed square was flush against the bottom support and the footer, I would hold it in place then use a screw to attach it. At this point I only attached the far left and right supports. I used two screws in each support.

Step 10: Assembly

Before attaching the arms I first took them to the drill press and drilled a hole in the back portion, in order to give myself a way to attach it to the back supports, then I put a 3″ carriage bolt in.

Step 11: Attaching Arms

I lined the arm up so that the chain hole was just in front of the vertical arm support, then drilled a hole where the carriage bolt hit on the back support. I used a hammer to tap it into place then put on a washer and nylon nut.

Then I moved to the other side and repeated the steps.

Step 12: Assembly of the Arms/Cup Holder

Next, I screwed the front arm support in place by using two screws going in from the top.

Then I attached the cup holder assembly. First by joining the bottom and back of the assembly, then by attaching it to the arm.

Step 13: Making the Slats

After attaching the other side the same way I moved the entire thing up to a taller work surface then attached the two middle supports.

When you are buying the boards to make up the slats you can either purchase 1×2 boards and use them as is, or buy 1×6 boards and use a table saw to cut them down to 1 1/2″. The advantage of doing it this way is a slightly lower cost, but also it’s easier to find straight 1x6s than it is 1x2s. However, either way works. I was able to find 5 straight 1x2s so I used those then bought 1x6s to make up the rest. Note: You can get 2 slats from the 1x2s and 6 slats from a 1×6.

Before cutting any of the boards, I first went over the edges (on one side) with a round over bit. If you don’t have a router than just leave them as is or soften the edges with sandpaper.

Step 14: Cut and Attach the Slats

I set up a stop block at my miter saw and started cutting my slats to length. Alternative: If you don’t have a miter then use your jigsaw to make your cuts.

I started to attach the slats: I borrowed my husband drill to make this process go faster (using two drills). I kept a countersink bit in one to pilot hole, and a Phillips in the other to drive in the screws. I attached the front slat first, then moved to the back and attached the very last one.

Step 15: Adding the Slats

Then I went through and attached the rest, using a scrap piece of 1/2″ wood to make sure they were all evenly spaced.

Once the seat was finish, I just started on the back and repeated the steps. I attached the bottom most slat first, then moved to the top and screwed in my top most slat then filled in the in between.

Step 16: Finishing and Adding Chain

To give the wood a little protection I applied a coat of Teak oil by Minwax.

Once the swing was dry, I started to add the chain. I cut two lengths of 8 links each (each link is two loops) then drilled a hole in each side near the top. Then I attached the chain to the side with carriage bolt, washer, and nylon nut assembly. Note: Before tightening down on the nut be sure the link is slanted like in the below photo.

Next I divided the rest of the chain in two equal lengths and cut the middle then stuck them in their respected places on the footer. This chain goes through the hole in front of the cup holder.

Now you can connect the chains by way of a ‘S’ hook then find a spot to hang it

Step 17: Another Swing

This is a swing I made for my folks and my mom wanted their names on it, so I grabbed my soldering iron and burned in their two names.

This was a very simple simple project. If you are looking for a porch swing and are on the fence about tackling it yourself, I say go for it. Even if you don’t have a router or the two bits I used….you could build a swing with a drill, jig saw, and a 1/4″ wrench. Then you would be sitting on something you yourself built. <–very cool feeling.

Total Cost: $74

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79 Discussions


7 days ago on Step 2

Nice design. I see no way to determine sizes. On the templates could you indicate scale. Thanks.


4 weeks ago

Where are the free templates


2 months ago on Step 16

I Love Love Love the swing...but found the templates hard to use as no measurements were included. The templates were hard to follow not knowing the size of each item. Through trial and error I succeeded though. Thanks for the site will follow you for more projects.


3 months ago on Step 4

Please use dimension on the wood so far I am confused and I don’t believe you build it


Tip 5 months ago

The 1st two times I made this I used premium 1 by lumber and it was very expensive so I found a cheaper way it took 3 6ft wood fence pickets (make sure they 3/4 inch thick not the 5/8 on) and one 2x10 and it was less than 30 dollars. It did require more sanding but the sanding was well worth the savings to me.

Mikey P

6 months ago

Nicely done April. I just made one of these for my wife out of cherry. I followed your instructions exactly as written. In the areas where I wasn't sure about pcs lining up,(Such as where the templates do not come to the edge of the paer) I used common sense and it all worked out. I would say the length can be whatever you would want it. Thanks for taking the time to do this so others can do this.


7 months ago

Where did you get your materials for $74 it is $100 here in Texas and that's without Hardware this is for a porch swing made out of cedar


Tip 11 months ago

The 'footer' is dimensioned in the text after Step2 as being 43" long. For a 4ft swing, this didn't seem right to me esp since the slats are cut from the 1x2x8ft stock making them 48" long. The footer needs to be longer than this by the width of the vertical arm supports. I cut mine to 51-1/2" long. It worked great.


Answer 11 months ago

I assumed that the 1x2x8 material was for the slats so I cut mine to 1x2x4ft. It worked out very well.


1 year ago

I like the photos and the complete assembly instructions........good job. I would, however, use a heavier weight link chain for the hanging........IMO. Its surprising how fast chains can wear through at the hinge points when using the swing regularly..........just saying.

Allyn ray

Question 1 year ago on Introduction

I down loaded the plans, the lines of the drawings on some of the pieces are short of the papers edge. I what length should I use for the piece, the edge of the paper or where the lines stop?

Allyn ray

Kink Jarfold

1 year ago on Step 17

Now that I follow you on YouTube I might as well do the same here on Instructables.


4 years ago on Introduction


This highlights some of the big differences between the States (I presume) and the UK.

We don't have porches other than little glasshouses in front of the main door - a swing would be impracticable, besides swings are for kids.

We don't socialise, instead prefer to watch the telly or go to the pub.

We don't have "porch" weather. We don't do verandas. We don't do flags (putting up an English flag = National Front). We don't do DIY, we've lost the art of making.

It's a great shame that we don't adopt some of your ways - it's a nice project.

I always fancied a swinging (hammock) type bed suspended from the ceiling (preferably a reinforced joist) with a motor to gently waft you off to sleep. As an ex-weather-ship man, the slow motion of a ship is deeply comforting.

Well done and good luck with the tools.

6 replies
April WilkersonPhil_S

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Man, that is a shame. My parents didn't have a porch large enough for their swing so they hung it from a tree instead. A good hammock swinging is also lovely!


Reply 4 years ago

Swings are for kids?

There is nothing more romantic than sitting with your spouse on a swing watching a sunset


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Hello Peter.

You've taken me a little too literally.

Swings and porches and the general "can do" attitude are a US phenomenon.

The latter iin particular has been driven out of the British psyche by GSI (get someone in) instead of DIY. We would be looking for reasons not to do something. Swinging seats used to be popular, mainly in the back garden, but are not seen much now. The Brits are more closet swingers (of the suspended variety), which highlights the lack of neighbourlyness here compared with the US. Swings are for kids would be used as a reason not to enjoy sharing a sunset with spouse or neighbours.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Sadly as a fellow Brit i have to agree. The art of building, designing and engineering is rapidly being lost in Britain. I dont think its all to do with the current trend of "buy it now and a new replacement in a matter of weeks". Some is to do with the prohibitive costs and stupid laws preventing invention and application.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for that.

I have "thirty something" neighbours who typify the "British" attitude to getting stuck in. Everything they do is bought in, from shopping to cutting the grass - the husband couldn't tell one end of a screwdriver from the other - the kids will grow up the same.

This is all wrapped up in the smug response that they like to get the experts in, get a professional job done, as though I am some sort of nutter.

Having worked with contractors and the like for years, I have listened to their bad-mouthing of customers and seen many shoddy jobs by the so-called experts.

Give me a unpaid careful hands-on bloke or lady any day.

I would agree with the laws bit - it is a minefield in anything to do with building - I expect we would have to have a structural engineer in to hang a swing. Probably has to comply with Part X of the Swing/hanging/porch Regulations