Homemade tree swings have long provided hours of fun for children and adults alike. You would be hard-pressed to find many river bend and lakeshore trees, or large backyard trees, that have not seen a swing at one time or another. Building a simple tree swing is an easy do-it-yourself project that can be completed for minimal cost.
The first order of business is to select a suitable location for your tree swing. Choose a tree with a large, live limb growing parallel to the ground. The diameter of the limb is important — the branch you use must be able to support the weight of the swinger without flexing too much. A limb with a diameter of 10 inches or more should be strong enough and will also allow you to hang the swing away from the trunk for unimpeded swinging. The height of the limb is also important. The higher the limb, the higher the swing can travel. Keep this in mind when building a swing for small children. Also pay attention to the ground under the limb. If there are exposed roots or hard packed earth, you may want to consider a layer of mulch for softer landings.
Before you embark on this fun project, first gather all the necessary materials. Look for a sturdy rope that is long enough to reach the desired tree branch with plenty of slack left over. The rope should be of high quality and suitable for outdoor applications. A piece of 3/4-inch pressure-treated plywood is ideal for making a simple tree swing seat. A power drill and a 1/2-inch wood drill bit are needed to bore the holes in the seat for the rope.
To make the seat, cut a circle out of the plywood. The diameter of the seat should be between 12 and 18 inches. Use a jigsaw to cut the material, and finish by smoothing the edges with a power sander. Using a power drill and bit, bore a 1/2-inch diameter hole in the center of the seat.
Tie one end of the rope to the tree limb so that it is secure and will not slip. Thread the remaining end through the hole in the center of the seat, and tie a large knot on the end. The knot prevents the seat from sliding off the rope. You can adjust the height of the swing before you tie the knot to a level suitable for different users.
After testing the swing to verify that it is securely fastened, you can sit back and enjoy the many smiles it will bring to your friends and family for years to come.