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.
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Step 1: Step 1: Buy Your Lumber and Hardware
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.
One "Deluxe Platform Swing" from HearthSong.com
Two PlayStar Commercial Grade Green and Black Swing
See pic 3.
PlayStar Commercial grade swing hangers.
See pic 4.
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
3/8" woodboring spade drill bit (at least 6")
1 1/8 woodboring spade drill bit
2 clamps (4 if you have them)
adapter to connect socket to drill
1/4" drill bit
star drive bit
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.
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).