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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115 Discussions


11 months ago on Step 18

Excenlte trabajo...y muy buen proyecto ...saludos


11 months ago

We used to have one of these in front of our house until the neighborhood cut it down...:’(


11 months ago

How do you make a tire swing? Play it some Glenn Miiler!


11 months ago

Really nice instructions, but I am quite worried by the 400lb rating on the swivel.

There are at least two reasons. First, there is dynamic load to consider. A user can hop onto the swing, which will produce a dynamic load greater than the weight of the user.

Second, there is the centrifugal force to consider. The tension in a pendulum is mgcosθ + mv2/r ( ). At maximum speed, this will be mg+mv^2/r. We know that mv^2/2 = mgh by conservation of energy, where h is maximum swing height. So, the maximum tension will be mg+2mgh/r=(1+2h/r)mg. If you swing to 90 degrees, that load will be 3 times the weight of the system (mainly, user+tire) as then h=r. If you swing to 45 degrees, the load will be 2.4 times the weight of the system, as then h=1/sqrt(2). And you want a safety factor on top of that.

I am not an engineer, but I would want to make sure that the swivel has a breaking strength of at least about 6 times the maximum weight of the combined users. If the maximum is a 200 lb adult, I'd want a breaking strength of at least 1200 lbs. If the hardware store posts a safe working load instead of a breaking strength, then you might be able to assume that they had a safety factor of 2 incorporated, and so 600 lbs would do. And if you won't swing past 45 degrees (but I think you really don't want to *assume* that; kids do crazy things, and you might find at some point you have two or three kids being crazy on the swing), then about 500 lbs might work. But 400 lbs is too small in any case.


4 years ago

we made ours but the only problem is when our daughter (who is 3) sits on one side opposite side lifts up as she swings and there is slack in the chain. any ideas to correct this?

1 reply

Reply 11 months ago

Your holes for the bolts are too close to the inner hole of the tire. Move the bolts to the outer edge of the side wall of the tire.


3 years ago

I'm having trouble finding heavy duty eye bolts. Please could you give some guidance on the size / spec?

1 reply

Reply 11 months ago

1/4" (shaft diameter) x 1.5" (thread length) is adequate for this. Could go to 5/16 if you are concerned. However use nylon insert nuts so they don't work loose.


Tip 11 months ago

If you use connector links instead of S hooks to attach the tire, you can easily change tires. This may be of worth as your kids grow.

I never liked chains on swings as a kid. Cold, and mittens would catch in them, sometimes would get pinched if I got it really pumped up. You can do this same approach and use 1/2" nylon rope instead of chain. Avoid polypropylene rope. Most of it is NOT UV stabilized, and it will require replacement every couple years.

Kids, being kids, it's worth having handles on the chain / rope so they can stand on the tire to swing. If you make the 3 tire chains 6 feet long, then you can put in connector chains at various heights for different kids to use as handles.

When hanging it you want it far enough off the ground so that it will pass over a kid on the ground directly under it.

the ground under the swing takes a beating if the swing gets a lot of use. Excavate the sod, and put in a patch of sawdust under it. Top up when necessary.

Other good toys if you have a multiple good tree branches for this would be a trapeze, and a pair of iron rings.


2 years ago

Im gonna try to build this today ill let you know how it turns out


3 years ago

My hubby and 13 year old daughter made this last night. They used rope to hang it from the tree, but otherwise loved the instructions! Thank you so much!


3 years ago

ill try it my mom and dad is taking dow my accaul backyard swing:( no fun


3 years ago on Step 18

This inspired me to get a tire swing! I found a used tire place that GAVE me the "junk" tire. I bought chains and links rated 660-2200 lbs so, no issue on whomever was going to get on it. I forgot the swivel. so I'm headed back tomorrow to get that! Thanks for the help!


4 years ago

Appreciate this alot. We decided to do this before we saw your project. We googled the how to and this came up first. It helped us finish what we already figured out.
For an even more frugal project, we used swing hardware salvaged from an old metal swing set we found. Thanks again.

We are using your instructions to build this swing for our little guy this weekend, as an Easter present. We really appreciate your clear and thorough instructions. Thank you for sharing, and I will posts some pics as soon as we unveil!