How to Build a DIY Tree Swing

Looking for an easy kids' swing to add to a tree in your yard? All you need is some rope, a board and basic DIY skills.

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If you have a mature tree and young kids, a swing is a natural addition. Making one can be as simple or complex as you like, and both styles provide the same soaring thrill. This swing's on the easier and cheaper end, costing around $20 and an hour of your time. Plus, the single-rope style is a great match for a tree with vertical-growing branches.

Tools Required

  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Lighter
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Speed square
  • Stepladder
  • Tape measure

Materials Required

  • 2x6 x 24 inches
  • Rope (with proper weight limit)

Note: All do-it-yourself activities involve a degree of risk. Skills, materials, tools and site conditions vary widely. Although we have made every effort to ensure accuracy, the reader remains responsible for the selection and use of tools materials and methods. Always obey local codes and laws, follow manufacturer’s operating instructions and observe safety precautions.

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Clip and Cut the Corners

  • Make a mark at 1-1/4 in. from the end of the board, at each corner.
  • Use a square to draw a 45-degree angle on all four corners.
    • This step eliminates sharp corners that could scrape little legs!
  • Cut the corners along the lines you drew, using your saw of choice.

Cutting cornersClint Buckner/Family Handyman

Step 2

Create the Hole for the Rope

  • Measure the board’s width and draw a line at the center point.
  • Measure the length, find that center point and draw an X where the two points intersect.
  • Use a drill bit that’s the same diameter as your rope to create the rope hole.
    • You want it snug because the rope will stretch, and therefore shrink in diameter with use.
    • I used 1/2-in. rope, and a 1/2-in. Forstner bit.

Adding holeClint Buckner/Family Handyman

Step 3

Ease the Edges

  • Sand all sharp edges with your choice of sanding tool or sandpaper.

Sanding the edgesClint Buckner/Family Handyman

Step 4

Hang and Cut the Rope

  • At the end of the rope, fold a foot of rope back on itself.
  • Tie the doubled rope into a knot, leaving a loop at the top that’s bigger than the rope’s diameter.
  • Ball up the knotted end of the rope and toss it over the branch you want your swing to hang on.
    • Be sure to ball up enough of the rope so that you can grab the end you threw over from the ground (or with the help of a short ladder). This may take a few tries!
  • Feed the unknotted end of the rope through the loop in the knotted end. Tug until it’s seated snugly on the branch.
  • Using your scissors, cut the end of the rope a couple feet longer than where it hits the ground.

Hanging rope from treeClint Buckner/Family Handyman

Step 5

Install and Adjust the Seat

  • Feed the rope through the seat’s hole. Measure from the ground to the desired seat height and make a figure-eight knot in the rope at the desired height, making sure the seat is above the knot.
    • I started at 20 inches, and my kids are average-sized eight- and 10-year-olds.
  • Cut the tail of the rope to about 18 inches, measured from the figure-eight knot to the end. This will be valuable extra length to work with as you adjust the seat height.
    • If your rope is made of poly or nylon, sear the cut ends with a lighter to prevent fraying.
  • Let your child try out the new swing, knowing that the rope will stretch. As it does, undo your initial figure-eight knot and make a new one higher on the rope, then try again.
    • Expect to make further adjustments with use.

Installing the seatClint Buckner/Family Handyman