DIY Portable Swing

Introduction: DIY Portable Swing

I am a first year student product design at the college university of West-Flanders in Belgium, the Howest. For the course Design and Prototyping we had to make a portable swing, a swing that is super easy to set up randomly in a park or garden and super easy to get out of the tree as well. Furthermore, the swing had to be very light in order to make it easy to carry around.

This is the result!

You like it? In this instructable I will show you step by step how to make one of your own.

The spacey background, you'll have to photoshop behind it yourself :-).

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Step 1: Materials

For the swing you will need the following materials:

  1. Two pieces of (fake) leather of about 24cm x 20cm
  2. Two pieces of firm, water resistant textile (I used nylon) of about 58cm x 42cm
  3. Two zippers of 30cm long
  4. One piece of firm rope (I used polypropylene fiber rope: 8mm thick and 20m long)
  5. An aluminium tube 25mm thick and 75cm long
  6. A piece of birchwood 56cm x45cm x 3mm
  7. A piece of particleboard 20cm x 45cm x 4cm

Step 2: Tools

You will need the following tools for this project:

  1. A drilling machine
  2. A metal chuck of 12mm thick
  3. At least 5 holdfasts
  4. A pair of scissors
  5. A sewing machine
  6. A saw
  7. A jig saw
  8. Wood glue
  9. A sander

Step 3: Bending the Wood

The wooden arches are used to attach the swing to the ropes, they will go through the (fake) leather loops.
To make the arches, you will need to bend some wood. We will be laminating several layers of thin pieces of wood in order to create our arches.

  • Start with sawing out the arched shape out of your piece of particle board (you can use some other kind of wood as well, but since this will only be used to bend the pieces of wood into their shapes, using a cheap kind of wood is a good idea). (first and second image)
  • Saw out 14 rectangles of 45cm x 4cm as shown in the third image
  • Put some water based woodglue on one side of 7 of the rectangles and put them on top of each other (forth image). Don't lose the other 7 rectangles!
  • Ultimately, put the 7 glued pieces of wood in the mold and tighten the whole thing together using holdfasts. You will need one in the middle and one on each side.
  • Let the wood rest in it's mold for at least 7 hours (the longer the better)
  • Repeat this process to make the second arch

Step 4: Drilling the Holes in the Arches

  • First of all, start with marking up your wood in order that you know where to drill (as shown in the first photograph)
    The center of the holes should be around 2,5cm from the border. Make sure that you don't drill the holes to close to the border, because that might cause you to fall right through your swing when swung too enthusiastically.
  • Take your chuck of 12mm thick and drill (as shown in the second photograph)! If you want a nice result you can also mark up the back of your arches and restart drilling a hole when you've reached the middle of your wood. That way, you avoid making splinters.
  • Once you've drilled the four holes, it's time to finish off the arches using the sander (as shown in the third photograph)
  • Finally you should get a result similar to the arches in the fourth photograph

Step 5: Sewing the Leather Loops

  • Take the two pieces of leather, they should be about 24cm x 20cm
  • Print out this pattern
  • First, sew a border on the top and the bottom as shown in step 1 on the image
  • Then, fold the leather in the middle, and sew together as shown in step 2
  • You should get something similar as in step 3
  • Repeat the previous steps to make your second leather loop

Step 6: Sewing the Whole Thing Together

  • Take your two pieces of (nylon) textile
  • Print out the pattern for the right side of the seating, and the one for the left side. The patterns are made to be printed out on A3 paper, but you can also print them out on several sheets of A4 paper and then fit them together.
  • Use the pattern to cut out the oval shape out of the rectangular textile and mark where you should stitch the layers together
  • Place the layers as shown in the first step on the image. Sew everything together using a sewing machine (so that it is firmly stitched together).
  • Leave a small part unsewed as shown in step 2 and turn the seating inside out so that the loops are on the outside.
  • Sew the part that you left out in the previous step together
  • Sew on the zippers on each side as shown in step 4. Be sure to sew on the zippers so that they close from the side to the middle, because otherwise you won't be able to put the aluminium tube inside.
  • (Optional) you can make extra stitches in the seating as in the last photograph to make it extra firm and unbreakable. But without it you should be fine as well.

Step 7: Drilling the Holes in the Aluminium Tube

  • Start with marking up your aluminium tube: on both sides two pairs of holes need to be drilled. The center of the first pair of holes should be 2cm from the border and the center of the second pair 3cm from the border.
    The imaginary drilling lines of the two pairs are perpendicular to each other, so when the rope is put inside, it will form a cross.
  • Take your chuck of 12mm thick and start drilling!
  • Repeat on the other side of the tube

Step 8: Hanging Up Your Swing

First of all, cut off 1m of your 20m propylene rope. This is to use in the next step.

  1. Throw your propylene rope over a branch (you can use some other piece of wood / branch lying around on the ground to make it easier to throw the rope)
  2. Make a simple knot about 1m above where your head will be
  3. With one end of the rope go through the first pair of holes in the aluminium tube
  4. Wrap the rope one time around the tube (this is necessary because otherwise the knot you use in the end won't hold up the swing)
  5. Put the wooden arch through the loop of your seating and put your rope through the holes of the arch
  6. Go to the second pair of holes in the aluminium tube with your rope
  7. You can wrap the rest of the rope around the tube
  8. Put your thumb on the part of the rope holding up your swing, and wrap it (at least) three times around it)
  9. Tighten the knot by going underneath the three wraps around your thumb
  10. Repeat step 3 - 9 for the other arch and you're done!

Step 9: Transform Your Swing in a Bag

Once you're done swinging, you will want to go home carrying your swing easily around. Because you've sewn on two zippers on each side of the seating, you can transform your swing in a bag-sort-of-thing.

  1. Put the seating with the wooden arches through the loops on the ground, put the aluminium tube in the middle and the rope above it
  2. Close the zippers on each side
  3. Use the spare meter rope you cut off previously to create a handgrip
  4. Start carrying your swing around!

Check out the video for some (sped-up) instructions on how to set up your swing

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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work on your swing! I like this design quite a bit.