Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Swing Set

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Around 7 years ago, I put up a swing set. It was little more than a 16' beam strung between two trees and the swings, trapeze and rings bolted to the beam and hung by chain.

There were several things I did, which in retrospect I wished I had done differently but I figured that it was good enough. Certainly too good to justify tearing it down and re-doing it. One of the things I did was to use regular framing wood. I didn't like pressure treated wood and thought that if I coated the regular wood with preservatives then it would be fine. Not so. A week or so ago, serious rotting was detected via Surenna pulling a chain, associated hardware and some wood down from the structure when she tried to use the trapeze.

Last weekend I put up a new structure with the following changes:

--I used pressure treated wood.

--The beam is made from 6 2X6X8 boards. Last time, I bolted the boards together and I staggered them by having two intact pieces on the outside layers and one full length piece in the middle of the center section, a board cut in half made up the rest of the center section. This time I cut two of the boards in 1/3 and 2/3 lengths and staggered the pieces so that no place along the length had more than one junction. The boards were held together via industrial adhesive (liquid nails) and regular nails. The regular nails are essentially only clamps to hold the boards together until the adhesive set, though enough nails were used to hold the structure together all by themselves.

The old setup lasted 7 years with many design flaws. I expect to never have to change this one. This is a good thing since I seriously doubt I will be strong enough (in 10 years or so) to replicate the efforts of this past weekend. Each board of the pressure treated lumber weighs around 26 lbs and there was additional weight from the nails, glue and other hardware bolted on. The total was around 160 lbs, which is a bit more than the author of this blog weighs. I got the thing in place roughly 10' up, but I was at the limit of my strength and at the tail-end of my 40's, I'm not getting stronger.

Added: For one reason or another, even though this is a relatively uninteresting post, it accounts for about half my blog traffic. Rather than fight this, I have decided to adapt and post additional pictures and whatever other items I like into this one post. A sort of blog within a blog.

Some flowers that are growing around the house, arranged as "artfully" as I can manage.

A cherry coffee table, fabricated a couple of months ago.


Taylor said...

Hi, I am thinking about building one very similar to this. I have some questions. First, has everything held up thus far? Are there any further improvements you would suggest?

Second, I see in the picutre that there is a chain wrapped around the left side of the beam where it contacts the tree- what is that for?

Third, how did you fasten things to the top/bottom of the beam, i.e. where the support chains are attached on the top and where the swing chains are attached on the bottom.


dbp said...

Hi Taylor,

Sorry for the delay, I didn't see your comment till now.

The swing set is still holding up fine.

As to the second question: If the beam was bolted directly to both trees then the sway of the trees would soon, I expect, destroy the beam. To give some play, the left side is suspended from a bolt a few feet above the beam. The chain around the tree keeps the beam from swinging when children are using the swing set.

I used commercially available swing set hardware to attach chains to the beam. These are bolts with a D-shaped loop at the bottom and a Nylon bushing for ease of swinging.

The support chains are attached to eye bolts which can be obtained at a hardware store.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Cheshire said...

hey Taylor,

You did a great job in a beautiful setting.

I was wondering about the two chains suspended from high up in the trees supporting the middle of the beam. What are the fasteners that you used in the trees and the beam. I would appreciate the details in detail as I am not very technically inclined.

dbp said...

Hi Cheshire,

Taylor was a previous commenter.

I used a common turnbuckle to tighten the chains that run diagonally between higher in the trees and the top of the beam. It is a common part and any hardware store that offers chain will offer turnbuckles too.