How to make a child's wooden swing set

Written by patrick cameron
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A good backyard swing set can be an open door to a lot of great memories. For many of us, the backyard swing set was where we played, skinned our knees and cemented friendships that last a lifetime. We may be older now with kids of our own, but the backyard swing set hasn't changed. This article will explain how simple it is to build a basic swing set that your kids can enjoy for years to come.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Two 2-by-6-by-12-foot redwood boards
  • One 2-by-6-by-8-foot redwood board
  • Four 4-by-4-by-8-foot posts
  • Hardware, fasteners, etc.
  • Box of wood screws
  • 8-foot ladder
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • Handsaw, skillsaw or mitre

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  1. 1

    Decide if you want to buy a package deal (where you buy a plan, and the lumber, hardware and accessories come along with it) or just the plan. The package makes the purchase easier, but you also pay more for having all the legwork done for you, and you get inferior lumber. Buying just the plan is less expensive, comes with the essential accessories and a list of the specific lumber you'll need to build your swing set.

  2. 2

    Choose lumber that will hold up to the extremes of being outdoors year-round. Green treated or redwood are the two types of lumber that hold up best to the rigours of outdoor extremes.

  3. 3

    The plan you chose (if you chose a plan) should have a list of all the materials you need to buy. If you're doing it on your own, the above referenced materials will work fine for a basic swing set. Take your two 2-by-6-by-12-foot boards and place them on a flat surface, one on top of the other. Drill a set of three or four holes every 32 inches and screw the boards together. Do this on both sides so that the boards are firmly held together. This is your top beam.

  4. 4

    Take the two connectors for the posts and put one on either end of your finished top beam. Mark and drill the holes, then attach the post connectors to the top beam. Now you're ready to attach your posts. Move the swing set pieces to the area you are going to put it. That way, you won't have to move it later. Set your posts next to the post connectors on your beam. One at a time, mark and drill the holes in your post and then attach first the front legs, then the back to the post connectors. You should now be able to stand your swing set up.

  5. 5

    Add bracing to the legs, so the swing set remains strong and stable. You should be able to do this with one 2-by-6-by-8 cut in half. If the width is too great between your posts, you may need an additional 2-by-6-by-8. Once the swing set is standing firm on its four legs (without wobble), put your 2-by-6 up to the legs on either end of the swing set and place a mark on the 2-by-6 based on where the post runs down it. Cut it according to your markings. Then predrill the holes and attach the fitted 2-by-6 to your posts. Do this on the exterior side on both ends of the swing set. For extra strength, buy another 2-by-6-by-8 and do both the insides and outsides of the posts.

  6. 6

    Attach the swings. Most big box stores sell swings with the appropriate hardware and directions for proper installation. Once you've attached your swings or other accessories, it's time to enjoy.

Tips and warnings

  • Predrill all your screw holes. This will keep the wood from splintering and make for a longer-lasting swing set.
  • If you are debating whether to use green treated lumber or redwood, go with the redwood. It's more expensive but it looks nicer and you, or your kids, won't have to deal with any treated lumber slivers.
  • Make sure your posts are even length. Always measure and cut them, because even the best lumber can differentiate in terms of length.
  • If you use redwood, make sure you treat it with protectant (once a year) to keep the wood in good condition.
  • These instructions are for building a very basic swing set. To add additional accessories (like a climbing wall, tire swing or slide requires a longer 2-by-6-foot plank and additional 4-by-4 posts.

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