DIY Porch Swing

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Around here, what Momma wants, Momma gets. So when she called me asking if I could “maybe….possibly….in your free time….” build her a porch swing…of course, I said yes.

Take a look at how it turned out then I’ll give you the run down on how I did it. If you are interested in building one of these on your own, you can find a traceable pattern to use as a template here. This traceable template allows you the freedom of making as many as you wish for friends and family. : )

It looks like it even has Totem’s mark of approval…: )

When I started asking my mom how she wanted the swing, she made my life easy and said that she wanted it identical to the one I have except she wanted a heart cut in the back and her and my Dad’s name burnt in on either side.

I bought a swing of my own around 5-6 years ago that typically hangs in this spot, so I just took it down and used it as my guide it to make my mom a copy.

Here are the steps if you want to make your own.

1) Since my mom liked my swing, I just took apart one side and traced the different pieces on cedar boards. (I’ve made a complete materials list at the bottom) Mine is actually made from pine, but I don’t suggest going with pine for an outdoor swing.

2) I sanded the crap out of everything. Oh my gosh I swear 80% of this project was just sanding (only a slight exaggeration)…if you choose to work with cedar as well then I suggest also buying a dust mask because cedar is very powdery when you sand it.

3) Once I had everything traced, I cut it all out using a jigsaw.

Tip: In each group, I made sure to cut one as perfect as possible, then just rough cut the remaining and used a flush trim bit to get them identical. Here is a video I put together explaining a flush trim bit.

If you do not have a router, or don’t want to buy a flush trim bit then just take your time cutting out all the different pieces.

Here is a photo of all my pieces cut out and their measurements. I’m looking into learning a software program called Sketchup so I can somehow share these with you guys. I know that if you try and make your own swing just like mine, you will have to freehand all of these curves but I was thinking if you used the measurements below then you can just fill in the curves by connecting lines…..maybe? (Click on the photo to see the dimensions)

You will need:
  • 4 – Bottom Supports
  • 4 – Back Supports
  • 2 – Cup Holder Bottoms
  • 2 – Cup Holder Backs
  • 2 – Arm Fronts
  • 2 – Arms
  • 1 – Footer

I don’t have a photo of what I’m calling a footer, but it’s just a piece that is 43″x 2 3/4″ and attached to the front of the arm fronts to hid the underworkings of the swing.

4) Next I brought my drill press out (…can you guess what my next project is?) and drilled two 1/4″ holes in the bottom to connect a back support to a bottom support.
Tip: After you drill the first hole, take a 1/4″ bolt or another 1/4″ drill bit and stick it in the hole you just drilled. This will make sure the holes stay aligned perfectly while you are drilling your second hole, which will prevent alignment issues when you’re bolting things together.
5) While I was at my drill press, I went ahead and drilled my other holes:
This is the arm and the hole is in the middle of back long skinny piece that is 3 3/8″ long.

The arm fronts….again using an extra bit to keep the holes aligned.

The footer. Tip: Since the footer is bolted on front of the arm fronts (meaning, I need the holes to align) I took the left arm front (that I just drilled) and placed it on top of the footer and lined it up where the two were flush on the bottom, then aligned my bit to the existing hole of the arm front and drilled through it again to make an identical hole through the footer on bottom. Then I repeated the steps with the right arm front and the right side of the footer.

6) Before I started assembling everything together, I decided to take a round over bit and hit all the edges (except for the back and bottom supports).

Note: If you aren’t familiar with a round over bit, it’s simply a bit that fits into a router that is used to take away that sharp edge of fresh cut wood. It softens up the looks and also the feel. I would really recommend not skipping this step.

Now I started putting things together….

Putting the Frame Together:



  • 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. <–pretty neat design if you ask me.
  • I drilled a pilot hole on almost all of my holes, then also countersunk all my screws.
  • I used 1 5/8″ exterior screws throughout the entire build.
1) I started with joining the back and bottom supports: I used 1/4 x 2″ carriage bolts, a flat washer, a lock washer, and then a nut.

I assembled two back supports on the left side of the bottom support, and two on the right (seen in photo below).

2) Then I also grabbed my footer and front arms and attached them the exact same way.

WilkerDon’t: Oops…I forgot to drill four holes. Two on the outer most left support and two on the right. These will be the holes for the chain and the attachment point for the arm, so learn from my oversight and drill these four at the same time as the others.
3) I used a clamp to hold a back/bottom support assembly (make sure it’s the one with the two holes) to the side of the arm then screwed it in from the front with two screws.
4) Then I grabbed the arm and bolted it in place. This is the only place where you need a 3″ carriage bolt.

5) Then I moved to the other side and repeated the steps.

6) Next, I screwed the front arm support in place.

7) Then the rest of the cup holder assembly….

8) After repeating the steps and putting together the other arm, I attached the other two support assemblies.

….cool. : )
  • When you are buying your slats, make sure to check they are straight before buying them. I went through 70% of what was on the shelf to find 10 good ones
  • If you don’t want a heart/name board in the middle of your porch swing then you will need 11 boards.
  • Each 8′ board will give you 2 slats.
1) I used my miter saw to start chopping up my boards. I cut the first two slats (since the arm support is in the way) at 39 1/4″, then the rest at 40 7/8″.

2) I went over each one with my round over bit. I would set up 5 boards at a time to make it go quickly.

3) Then, just because cedar has so much texture and rounding over brought some of it out, I quickly went over them with my palm sander to knock it back down smooth.

Note: Remember I already sanded the other side with the other boards before I even got started. I would suggest doing this even though the ‘fuzzy’ part will go on the bottom because if the swing is ever moved, hands will be all over it and splinters are guaranteed.

4) I started to attach the slats: I borrowed Cody’s drill so that I could keep a small drill bit in one to pilot hole, and a Phillips in the other to drill in the screws. I attached the front two slats first, then moved to the back and attached the very last one.

Note: Before attaching the back, you need to measure the front and see where those bottom supports fall….then move to the back and position them at the same measurement. Once you line them up where everything is the same distance then you screw in your very back slat and you won’t have to worry about them while you are laying the rest of the seat slats.

Note: To make sure all my slats were spaced evenly, I grabbed a piece of 1/2″ scrap and used it as a spacer.

5) Once the seat was finish, I just started on the back. I did the same steps as the seat where I attached the bottom most slat first, then moved to the top and measured and corrected the back supports where they measured the same distance, then screwed in my top most slat.

6) Once I got to this part, I grabbed the extra 1×4 and cut it to 40 7/8″.

7) My mom wanted a heart so 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) With the board being 40 7/8″ long the center of the heart needed to be at 20 5/16″. I 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 add the chain. I cut two lengths of 8 links each (each link is two loops) then attached it to the side carriage bolt above the arm.
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.

Note: Don’t forget to cut off the link that was cut to create the length.
Tip: This chain is tough so I used a pair of Klein square nose pliers to make the cuts.

Now you can connect the chains by way of a ‘S’ hook then find a spot to hang it.

3) Since my mom wanted their names put on it, I grabbed my soldering iron and burned in their two names.

4) Last thing is to apply two coats of Thompson Water Sealant then I’ll call it done.

…Yes, I do believe she will love it. Thoughts?

Here is 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″ lock washers
  • 14 – 1/4″ 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

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, circular saw, jig saw, and  a 1/4″ wrench. Then you would be sitting on something you yourself built. (<–very cool feeling.

Don’t be shy about contacting me if you have questions! Be safe.

Total Time: 8 hrs

Total Cost: $74

…I just realized…I did not use a single bit of scrap on this project. Hm…I think it’s a first. ; )

Here are some additional swings I made:
(No I did not take that photo. The women who bought the swing took it and sent it to me) ; )

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