Swing Structure

This freestanding swing is a perfect perch for enjoying the garden.


Enlarge Image Relax and enjoy your garden getaway.

The wooden part of the structure is not difficult to build if you have intermediate woodworking skills and basic tools. A fabric "roof" keeps harsh sun at bay; the swing is made of cotton canvas and plywood that's softened by a cushion. For best results, use waterproof outdoor fabrics, including awning fabric. That way you'll be worry-free when the rain clouds move in.

What You Need:
  • Paintbrush
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw or table saw
  • Drill
  • Posthole digger
  • Level
  • Scrap 2x4
  • Stakes
  • 1x4s for temporary supports
  • Carpenter's framing square
  • Hammer
Materials

Note: The 4x4, 1x4, and 1x2 lumber may be pressure-treated pine, cedar, or redwood as desired.

  • Paint or stain
  • Exterior-grade polyurethane or other varnish
  • Four 4x4s, 8 feet long, for posts (A)
  • Four 4x4s, 36 inches long, for top beams (B) and cross beams (C)
  • 1/4 x 3-inch lag screws with washers
  • Crushed rock (enough for 6 inches in the bottom of each posthole, plus more for leveling posts)
  • Concrete mix for four footings
  • One 4x4, 85 inches long, for swing beam (D)
  • Four 3/8 x 3-1/2-inch carriage bolts with nuts and washers
  • Four 4x4s, 25-1/2 inches long, for roof braces (E)
  • Two 1x4s, 78 inches long, for roof beams (F)
  • Four 1x2s, 56-1/2 inches long, for lattice stringers (G)
  • Twelve 1x2s, 32-1/2 inches long, for lattice slats (H)
  • 1-1/4-inch-long deck screws
  • Exterior-grade wood glue
  • Four 3/8 x 5-inch eyebolts

1. Download the free pattern for this project. (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.)

Swing Structure pattern

Download Adobe Acrobat

Enlarge Image Download our pattern for detailed measurements.

2. Using a paintbrush, paint or stain all wood members as desired, then let dry. Apply polyurethane or other varnish to protect the finish; let dry.

3. Using a pencil and circular or table saw, mark and cut half-lap notches in the 4x4 posts (A) and top beams (B), the center notch in the top beams (B), and the notches in the ends of the cross beams (C). Drill counter-bores and pilot holes at the joint locations, then lag-screw and glue each swing frame assembly together.

Enlarge Image Dig postholes into the ground.

4. Dig postholes approximately 30 inches deep, spacing as shown. Pour 6 inches of crushed rock in each hole. Set the frame-assembly posts in the holes, and brace them level and plumb with 1x4 temporary supports fastened to stakes in the ground. Lay a 2x4 atop the cross beams (C) and use a level to make sure the frame pieces are on the same elevation. (Add crushed rock to raise the low posts as necessary.) Once the frames are firmly braced, level, and plumb, mix concrete and pour into each hole to ground level. Let set two or three days before proceeding.

5. Notch the ends of the 4x4 swing beam (D) with the saw. To prevent the beam ends from splitting, install 3/8-inch carriage bolts as shown in the detail illustration. Fasten the swing beam to the frames with lag screws and glue.

Enlarge Image Top peak of swing structure.

6. Miter one end of each roof brace (E) to 45 degrees. Mark and cut half-lap notches in the square ends, and drill counter-bores and pilot holes for the lag screws. Loosely screw each pair of braces together at a 90-degree angle, then lag-screw the mitered ends in position atop the swing frame assemblies. Tighten the lag screws where the roof braces meet (see photo). Lag-screw roof beams (F) between the roof braces, angling them as shown.

7. To make the lattice panels, place the stringers (G) about 91-3/16 inches apart on-center on a flat surface. Use a carpenter's framing square to keep ends aligned. Fasten a slat (H) to each end of the stringers with deck screws and glue, then every 9 1/2 inches along the stringers' length. Position the panels on ends of swing frame assemblies and drive 1-1/4-inch deck screws through the slats to fasten the lattice to the posts.

8. Drill pilot holes in the swing beam (D) to accept the eyebolts for the canvas swing. Also drill pilot holes in the roof braces (E) to accept the eyebolts for the striped canopy; position pilot holes so eyebolts will suspend the roof's top tabs at the peak of the roof braces. Screw eyebolts into holes. Wait to drill pilot holes to suspend the canopy's bottom tabs until you've constructed the canopy.

What You Need:
Enlarge Image Canvas Swing
  • 2-3/4 yards of 60-inch-wide natural-color canvas fabric
  • 3/4-inch dowel, 45 inches long
  • Two 1-inch dowels, 19-1/2 inches long
  • Twenty-two 7/16-inch metal grommets
  • 1/4 yard of 45-inch print fabric
  • Extra-strong matching thread
  • 50-1/2 x 21-1/2-inch piece of plywood
  • Swing cushion
  • Four 31-inch lengths of 1/8-inch steel cable
  • 12 cable clamps
  • Two 1-1/2-inch (inside diameter) metal rings
  • Two 20-inch lengths of 1/8-inch steel cable
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Clothes iron
  • Sewing machine with heavy-duty needle
  • Water-erasable fabric-marking pen
  • Grommet tool
  • Pliers
Instructions:
Enlarge Image Diagram 1

1. From canvas, measure and cut one 27 x 90-inch rectangle for seat/sides, one 23 x 55-inch rectangle for the back, and one 9 x 51-inch strip for the front. On each 23-inch edge of back piece, press under 1/2 inch, then 2 inches. Sew 1/8 inch from the inner pressed edges. To make the back dowel pocket, press under 1 inch, then 4 inches on one 55-inch edge. Sew 1/8 inch from inner pressed edge and 2 inches from outer pressed fold.

2. Press under 1/2 inch, then 2 inches on each 90-inch edge of the seat/sides piece. With wrong sides together, center the back piece on the seat/sides piece, tucking 1 inch of the raw back edge in the seat/sides hem as shown in Diagram 1. Pin in place. Sew 1/8 inch from the inner pressed edge of the hem, catching the back piece in the stitching. Fold the back away from the seat/sides and sew through all layers 1/4 inch from the outer pressed edge of the hem. This second seam reinforces the back's connection to the seat.

3. To make side dowel pockets, press under 1 inch, then 4 inches on each short edge of the seat/sides. Sew 1/8 inch from the inner pressed edge and 2 inches from the outer pressed fold. Close one end of each side dowel pocket by sewing 1/8 inch from the front edge of the pocket.

4. Fold the front strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. Sew short edges together using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Turn right side out; press seams open. Place the front on the seat with the open edge overlapping the seat 3/4 inch. Sew through all layers 1/8 inch and 5/8 inch from the outer pressed edge of the seat hem. (Two seams add strength to the seat.)

5. Use a water-erasable fabric-marking pen to mark the position of the grommets (see Diagram1). Be sure that the marks on the back piece align with the marks on the corresponding edges of the sides, and that the marks on the front align with the corresponding marks on the front edge of the sides. Insert the dowels into the side and back pockets before closing the pockets with grommets. Apply the grommets following manufacturer's instructions.

Enlarge Image Tie threads through grommets.

6. For the ties, cut four 2 x 45-inch strips from the print fabric. Fold the strips in half lengthwise and press. Unfold strips and fold in the long edges to meet at the pressed center fold. Fold in half lengthwise and press again, enclosing the raw edges. Machine-stitch close to the open long edges. From the strips, cut two 18-inch-long ties for the front corners of the canvas swing and eight 5-inch-long ties for the back corners. Thread a tie through each corresponding pair of grommets; tie and knot the ends.

Enlarge Image Cable loop through a grommet.

7. Place the plywood on the seat and cushion (see "Swing Cushion") on the plywood. Thread a 31-inch length of steel cable through the back grommet on one side of the swing; loop through a clamp and squeeze with pliers to tighten. Thread another 31-inch cable through the front grommet on the same side of the swing; loop through a clamp and squeeze with pliers to tighten. Thread the unclamped ends of both cables through one 1-1/2-inch metal ring; loop each cable through a clamp and squeeze with pliers to tighten. Repeat on other side of swing.

8. Thread one 20-inch cable through each metal ring; loop the end through a clamp and tighten with pliers. Loop unclamped end through the eye of corresponding eyebolt screwed into beam of swing structure, then through a clamp; tighten with pliers.

What You Need:
  • 4-1/2 yards of 36-inch-wide ticking
  • Matching thread
  • Three 76-inch lengths 1/8-inch steel cable
  • Four 3/8 x 5-inch eyebolts
  • Six cable clamps
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine with heavy-duty needle
  • Clothes iron
  • Pliers
  • Drill
Instructions:

Note: Sew with right sides together using 1/2-inch seam allowances unless otherwise noted.

1. From the ticking, measure and cut three 52-inch-long pieces using entire width of fabric. Trim selvages.

2. Pin, then sew the ticking pieces together along the 52-inch edges. To clean-finish seam allowances, zigzag-stitch raw edges together, and press to one side. Trim the assembled canopy fabric, which measures 106 inches wide, to a width of 76 inches, removing equal amounts from each side edge. (Do not trim the 52-inch length.) Set aside the trimmed fabric for the tabs.

3. To finish side edges, press under 1 inch twice on each 52-inch edge; sew 1/8 inch from inner pressed edges. Fold the canopy fabric in half, wrong sides together, aligning the raw edges; press along the fold for the top of the canopy. For the tabs, cut three 2-1/2 x 52-inch strips from the set-aside fabric. Zigzag-stitch one long edge of each strip. Press under 5/8 inch on each unfinished long edge and then 3/4 inch on each zigzag-finished edge. Sew down the center of the strips through all layers. From the strips, cut nine 4-1/2-inch-long tabs for the folded top edge and eighteen 5-inch-long tabs for the bottom edges.

Enlarge Image Diagram 1: Swing canopy.

4. Press under 1/2 inch on the short edges of the 4-1/2-inch-long tabs, then press each tab in half. Referring to Diagram 1, evenly space the tabs over the folded top edge of the canopy with 1 inch extending beyond the fold; pin in place. Sew 1/2 inch from the folded edge of the canopy, catching the tabs securely in the stitching.

Enlarge Image Diagram 2

5. For bottom hems of canopy, press under 1 inch twice on each 72-inch edge. Press each 5-inch-long tab in half. Referring to Diagram 2, evenly space nine tabs along each bottom hem, tucking 1/2 inch of the tab in the hem; pin in place.

Enlarge Image Diagram 3

Sew 1/8 inch from inner pressed edge of hem, catching the tabs in the stitching. Press the tabs down over the hem and sew 3/8 inch from the outer pressed edge of the hem as shown in Diagram 3.

6. Thread 76-inch lengths of steel cable through the tabs at the top and bottom of the canopy. Loop each end of the top cable through the eye of corresponding eyebolt in the swing roof braces (E), then though a clamp; tighten with pliers.

Enlarge Image Canopy in place.

7. With striped canopy in place, determine the placement of four additional eyebolts, which will suspend the bottom two steel cables of the canopy, in the top beams (B). Drill pilot holes, then screw in eyebolts. Loop ends of each bottom cable through the eye of corresponding eyebolt, then through a clamp; tighten with pliers.

What You Need:
Enlarge Image These comfy pillows invite you to curl up.
  • 2 yards of 54-inch-wide decorator fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Batting
  • 22 x 51-inch piece of 3-inch foam
  • Firm-hold upholstery spray-mount adhesive
Instructions:

Note: Sew with right sides together using 1/2-inch seam allowances.

1. From fabric, measure and cut two 23 x 52-inch rectangles for the cushion top and bottom, two 4 x 23-inch boxing strips, and two 4 x 52-inch boxing strips. Cut a piece of batting large enough to wrap around foam. Use spray-mount adhesive to attach batting to foam; trim excess batting.

2. Sew together the short ends of the boxing strips, alternating the 23-inch-long and 52-inch-long strips. Pin the assembled boxing strip to the cushion top, positioning the seams at the corners; sew strip to top. Pin and sew the boxing strip to the cushion bottom in the same way, leaving one long edge open. Turn right side out and insert the batting-covered foam cushion. Hand-stitch opening closed.


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