At my vacation house we have a large fruitless mulberry tree. Some day during the summer I thought that a swing hanged from tree's branches would be a nice decorative element. Also it could be used for, what else, swinging! Without a second thought I went to the lumber yard and bought some pine boards.
Materials and cost:
- 4 m board, 1,8x9,3 cm (5 EUR)
- 4 m board, 3,5x4,5 cm (3 EUR)
- 10 m rope (10 EUR)
- Hardware (L-brackets, screws, washers, nuts, eyebolts) (~ 7 EUR)
- Varnish (~ 5 EUR)
Total Cost: ~ 30 EUR
- Palm sander
- Hand saw
- Miter box
- 80 grit sandpaper
- Drill bits
- Angle finder
Step 1: First Sanding
I thought that would be easier to sand each piece individually. After I cut every board to length, I did a rough sanding with 80 grit sandpaper. I didn't care to do a finest sanding, because it's something outdoors and doesn't have to look very nice like a furniture. I smoothed all the edges for not to be sharp and rounded almost every edge and corner of the 1,8x9,3 boards.
Step 2: Seat Frame
For the seat I measured the size of a director's chair. It was almost 40x47 cm. I cut the 3,5x4,5 to length for each side, grabed the handsaw and mitered the ends of the boards. Due to lack of square clamps, I glued firstly the three pieces together and after the glue dried out I glued the fourth piece. I screwed some L-brackets for extra strength.
Step 3: Back Frame
The back frame has the same width as the seat. The height was slightly smaller than the depth of the seat. So, again I cut the 3,5x4,5 to length for each side, grabed the handsaw and mitered the ends of the boards. I cut only three pieces this time since the fourth will be shared with the seat frame. I used again L-brackets at the joints for extra strength.
I wanted the back to has a tilt so that it is convenient to sit. I placed the two frames at an angle that suited to me and with the angle finder I marked it. I transferred the mark at the bottom ends of the two sides and with the jigsaw I cut them out. The length of the cut should be 4,5 cm, as the width of the board, to fit against the seat frame.
I did one more cut. It was perpendicular to the previous one, so the very bottom of this frame would be flush with the bottom side of the seat frame.
Step 4: Arm Brackets
The arm brackets were two simple L shapes. I had to make them at the height of my elbow when I was sitting. I measured very carefully the remaining 3,5x4,5 board, because if I did a mistake, I would have to buy a new 4 m long board, just to use a few centimeters.
I glued the two pieces of each bracket with a 90 degree rotation between them to form the L shapes and added L-brackets for strength. I made sure the one bracket be mirrored to the other. Finally, with the angle finder marked with the back frame tilt, I trimmed the back end of each bracket to make them flush with the back side of the back frame.
Step 5: Assembly of the Swing Skeleton
Now that all parts are ready, it's time to put them together. I attached the back frame to the seat with glue and put screws to hold in place. I did the same thing to attach the arm brackets. I added some L-brackets behind each new joint, so that it's not easily visible and give extra strength.
The swing started to take form.
Step 6: Boarding the Skeleton
With the skeleton be ready it's time to start boarding. I cut the 1,8x9,3 board to six equal pieces, a little bit longer than the frames width. The rest of the board was cut to half to form the arms.
I started with the seat. On the rear board I cut two slots, for the back frame to be inserted. I marked the position of each slot and with the jigsaw I cut them out. I tried to dry fit it, the slots were to tight, so the two far edges broke. However, because of the tilt, there was a gap in the slots between the board and the back frame. I took my rasp and scraped the inside of the slots at the same angle as the tilt. When I glued the board in place, I glued the broken pieces as they should be. For the third board I had to cut a notch at the ends to fit between the arm brackets. The boards glued on the seat, with a couple of screws in each side.
The back was very simple and easy. I just glued the boards at the upper half of the frame and screwed them with a couple of screws in each side.
The arm boards were also simple to be placed. The only thing that needed was to cut a little notch on each board to fit beside the back frame. Again with the rasp, I scraped one side of each notch to eliminate the gap between the board and the tilted frame. I glued them on the arm brackets and put some screws from the bottom. I attached a holesaw on my drill and bored a hole in each arm, for the rope to pass through. I hand sanded the edges of the holes to be rounded.
Now that the swing has assembled, is ready for stain.
Step 7: Sanding, Finishing and Last Hardware
Before I apply the stain, I did a hand sanding to remove any pencil marks or dirt which may had been. With a clean rag I removed all the dust. For finishing I applied two coats of external waterbased wood preserver with light sanding between them. I chose the stain to give a rustic look.
Then I drilled four holes to screw the eyebolts. Two on the upper of the back frame and two on the front of the seat frame. For the seat eyebolts I drilled bellow the arms holes.
Step 8: Hanging and Adjustment
To hang the swing I cut the rope in two unequal pieces. The one is 4 m and the other is 6 m. I folded each piece in half and thrown them over the branches. Now the ends of the ropes are on the one side of the branches and folds on the other. I passed the ends through the folds and pulled them to make a tight tying.
To hang the swing from the ropes I passed the ends of them through the eyebolts holes and made knobs. I rearranged the knobs position until the swing was leveled. After that I tighted the knobs as much as I could with my hands. I cut the excess rope from each side and put some transparent tape to protect them from untwist.
Step 9: Time to Swing
The final step was to sit and test it. The test subject was a friend who weighs 80 Kilos. My biggest fear was the seat's eyebolts. They receive the major force, so the boards they are attached to may be broken. Fortunately everything went well and my friend didn't fell down.
The swing was tested and now is full operational. It's a very nice place to sit and read a book.
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