It’s funny because over the past two years I have made 7 porch swings for either friends or family but I’ve never made one for myself. I finally decided to make myself a swing.
This might seem like a big project, but it is actually very simple and doable even for a beginner. I’ll be throwing in alternatives to tools so even if you don’t have a shop full of tools, you can make this swing with just a jigsaw and a drill.
I make all my swings from cedar because it’s a wood that is naturally rot resistant. So if you left a cedar board outside untreated it would hold up longer than something like pine. However, cedar is more expensive so you can purchase pine instead and follow all the same steps. If you go the route of building it from pine, you just have to make sure to seal it really well and often.
My Material List:
- 10 – 1 x 2 x 8
- 3 – 1 x 4 x 8
- 2 – 1 x 6 x 8
- 14 – 1/4″ flat washers
- 14 – 1/4″ nylon nuts
- 12 – 1/4 x 2 carriage bolts
- 2 – 1/4 x 3 carriage bolts
- 2 – Small S hooks
- 2 – Large S hooks
- 1 – Box of 1 5/8″ exterior screws
- 17′ of chain
1) I sanded the back side of all my boards. Cedar is very powdery so be sure to wear a respirator.2) I took the templates and traced them on my boards until I had the correct number of each piece. If you would like the templates you can download them for free down at the bottom of the post. You will need:
- 4 – Bottom Supports
- 4 – Back Supports
- 2 – Cup Holder Bottoms
- 2 – Cup Holder Backs
- 2 – Arm Fronts
- 2 – Arms
- 1 – Footer
Note: The footer is not included in templates since it’s a big rectangle however the dimensions are 43″x 2 3/4″3) Once I had everything traced, I cut it all out using my bandsaw. Alternative: If you don’t have a bandsaw you can use a jigsaw.Tip: In each group, I made sure to cut one as perfect as possible, then just rough cut the remaining so that I could use a flush trim bit to get them identical. (Here is a video I put together explaining a flush trim bit) Alternative: If you do not have a router, or a flush trim bit then just take your time cutting out all the different pieces with the jigsaw.(The footer is not shown)
4) Next I went to the drill press with the arms and first used a 7/8″ paddle bit to drill a hole that will later be used for the chain. Alternative: If you don’t have a paddle bit then use a regular drill bit to make a starter hole then use a jigsaw to cut the hole.
5) I also used the paddle bit to make a starter hole in the cup holder area so that I could get use a jigsaw to cut it out. 6) With all the pieces cut I put a round over bit in my router and went over everything except the bottom and back supports. On the arms I went over both sides but on the vertical arm support, cup holder pieces, and footer I only went over one side (make sure it’s the smooth side). Alternative: If you don’t have a router than don’t worry about this step. You can leave your pieces with the factory edges on them or you can take some sandpaper and ease the edges a little that way.
- A carriage bolt is distinguishable because it has a build up of material in the shape of a square right under the head but before you get to the threads. So instead of just slipping it into into a hole and the head sitting flush like a regular bolt, you have to grab a hammer and give it a slight tap…just enough to get it started, then when you tighten down on the nut it will finish sucking that square build up into the wood and keep it from rotating when you tighten down on it.
- I drilled a pilot hole on all of my holes with a countersink bit.
- I used 1 5/8″ exterior screws throughout the entire build.
13 ) Next, I screwed the front arm support in place by using two screws going in from the top.14) Then I attached the cup holder assembly. First by joining the bottom and back of the assembly, then by attaching it to the arm. 15) After attaching the other side the same way I moved the entire thing up to a taller work surface then attached the two middle supports.
7) I grabbed a piece of paper and folded it in half, then drew half of a heart and cut it out. This way when I opened it up, it is symmetrical…8) I found the center of the board then traced it on then cut it out with my jigsaw.9) Then attached the rest of the slats until I was done. Finishing Touches:
1) To give the wood a little protection I applied a coat of Teak oil by Minwax.
2) Once the swing was dry, I started to add the chain. I cut two lengths of 8 links each (each link is two loops) then drilled a hole in each side near the top. Then I attached the chain to the side with carriage bolt, washer, and nylon nut assembly.
Note: Before tightening down on the nut be sure the link is slanted like in the below photo.2) Next I divided the rest of the chain in two equal lengths and cut the middle then stuck them in their respected places on the footer. This chain goes through the hole in front of the cup holder.Now you can connect the chains by way of a ‘S’ hook then find a spot to hang it.
My mom wanted their names put on theirs so I grabbed my soldering iron and burned in their two names.This was a very simple simple project. If you are looking for a porch swing and are on the fence about tackling it yourself, I say go for it. Even if you don’t have a router or the two bits I used….you could build a swing with a drill, jig saw, and a 1/4″ wrench. Then you would be sitting on something you yourself built. <–very cool feeling.
Total Cost: $74
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*UPDATE* I now I have a single seater swing build tutorial as well! You can find that here. I also sell templates to help make the single seater swing. If you are interested in expanding the swing to be a two-seater, the only difference between the two is the size (length) of the middle support slats. You could take the template I have and easily widen the design by stretching the slats and adding in a center support on the back and bottom. Thanks!