Introduction: Metal Swing
Have you ever been to a park, and saw little children having so much fun on a swing that you want to join them? But you're to old for it and scared that they'll make fun of you?
Well this is something for you. You can swing ANYWHERE you want, at ANYTIME, while still looking the coolest childish adult at the park!
I present you, the mobile swing. Easy to make, easy to set up, easy to bring it with you.
It's not only possible to swing from a tree, but everywhere you have a beam, or a rail. As long as it is above your head.
So let's get started!
Step 1: Creating the Pannel
First of, you need something to sit on. One of the lightest way to achieve this is using sheet metal.
I have used a aluminium sheet of 0,8mm and a surface of 500x500mm. The most important aspect of the panel is giving it strength by adding profiles underneath is. Think about a cardboard box. It's basicly thick paper, but with the wave like pattern inside, it's much stronger.
Start of by cutting the flat top layer. I used 200x500mm from the sheet, giving you plenty of leftover to create the profiles.
Next up is to calculate the surface you need to bend and align the profiles under your top layer. I would aim for an angle of 60°. In case you bend it to far, it's not that big of a problem. Keep in mind! Bending the sheet back to a previous state will weaken the sheet, resulting in a possible failure of the material. It's better to bend both profiles towards 70° than trying to go back.
Step 2: Attaching the Profiles
Since we're using metal sheets, the same kind of this they build airplanes with, we can use different kind of techniques to attach one sheet to an other than ordinary nuts and bold's.
A good way is using pop rivets. It depends on which rivets you bought, but I got 4mm rivets.
First drill holes with a 4mm drill, same thickness of your rivet, in your top layer as well as in your profiles. Mark the positions with a scratch pen or something else sharp. In this panel, I have used 7 rivets in one line. The best way is to drill the holes while keeping the profiles aligned, is to pinch them together and drill both simultaneously.
When you drilled the holes, don't forget to remove any excessive material that was not removed by the drill. The chances are high your rivet will be in an odd position and screw up it's effectiveness.
Finish the panel by using some sandpaper to remove sharp edges from the sides.
And that's it for the panel! it can support at least +90 kilograms. I have not dared to push it further.
Step 3: Attaching the Ropes to the Pannel
The only thing that will be "permanently" attached to the panel, are the ropes. If you want, you can add a wooden block in between the profile and the top layer. The only difference is that with the block, it will be even more stronger because it can spread out the tension more through out the panel. I have chosen not to, making it bend like you can see in the picture.
What ever you do, do NOT tie the rope only at the top layer. It will spread the tension more into the rivets, giving them unnecessary tension that they might not appreciate. The profiles are there for a reasons.
For the rope, I used polypropylene with a thickness of 4mm. It's not to thick and will help keeping the weight down.
Drill a hole with with a diameter of 5mm through the top layer, (through the wooden block) all the way through the profile. Try to keep the drill vertical, and place the holes with an equal offset from the side. Yet again, remove any sharp edges or it might start cutting in your rope.
For the length of the ropes, use 2 meter. The ropes goes around the suspension stick (see next steps) and back down to the other closest hole. You'll need head clearance for the suspension stick.
At the bottom of the the profile, tie a stopping knot to prevent the rope from coming loose from the panel.
And that's it for the panel part!
Step 4: Suspension Stick
This part will be above your head, connecting the ropes from the panel, to the ropes in the tree. You need 2 part for this and a lathe which is highly advisable, but not necessary. You need a wooden beam, not to big, and an aluminium tube.
I used a wooden beam of 37x37mm to create the cubes. And an aluminium tube of 1 meter (stock length), outer-diameter of 16mm and a thickness of 2mm.
First drill a hole all the way through both wooden cubes with diameter 16mm right in the center. This is where your tube will fit through.
If you know your cube is 37mm wide, and you want to space the 2 blocks 500mm from each other, you need to cut the tube at a length of 584mm. (37*2+500)
Use some sandpaper on both ends on the tube and glue the cubes in position on the tube.
Here comes the lathe in handy. The goal is to remove material from the cubes to turn them into cylinders. I don't have a lathe so I used more sandpaper to scrub them cylindrical-ish.
Next, make a ditch in the cylinder so the ropes can't slip off and you come crashing down onto the ground. Be careful not making the ditch to deep, or you'll slice it half. You don't want that.
And that is the suspension stick! This will make the swing possible to level horizontally even at non-horizontal tree branches.
Step 5: Ropes Ropes Ropes... One Rope to Be Precise
You can chose the length of your rope how you desire. It all depends on how high you want your max height. I have set my max height to almost 9 meter. Minus the height of the ropes of your panel, you need 16 meter rope. That is 8 meters going up, around the tree branch and 8 meters back down to your suspension stick.
We'll knot loops in the rope so we can shorten the rope for lower branches.
Keep in mind, you can only knot the rope together less than the half. Otherwise you won't be able to hang your suspension stick.
Tie less than the half of the main loop together with spacings of 0,5m. You can do more or less. These smaller loops will make it possible to adjust the length.
Step 6: Extra Materials
The last purchase you need to do before you can actually swing in safety, is a safety hook.
It's handy to swing your rope way above your head over a branch, ledge, rail, electricity cable (I wouldn't try that) And to pull your ropes together to experience a better swinging motion.
Step 7: The Swing Setup
Pulling the ropes is the trickiest part.
You'll have to rely a lot on the pictures, since it's complex to explain. And my explanation will probably make you even more confused.
After you managed to get the ropes set up, just hang the suspension stick on the 2 newly created loops. And hang your panel on the suspension stick.
Step 8: Packing Up to Go on an Adventure
Everything is done! The weight of the final product should be around 950 grams. It can differ depending on type and length of ropes your used, kind of sheet metal, size of safety hook,...
The only thing that you need to know is how to bring the swing with you without to much hassle.
This is the easiest way:
- Turn the panel upside down
- Roll up the main rope around your arm and place it in the centre of the panel
- Place the suspension stick on top of it
- Roll the ropes from the panel itself around the panel and work towards the middle
- Hook the 2 ropes from the panel together with the safety hook
Now you are ready to go on an adventure!
Reach for the highest, biggest branch you can find and show those kids how cool you really are.