DIY Swing Set – (Adults will love this one too!)

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My kids are 11 and 8 and the time has come that they’ve outgrown their playset. But, they still love to be outside and they love swings.  So we made a bigger, but simple DIY swing set that’ll be used for years to come.

The good part about this DIY is we sold our old playset and used that money for the DIY Swing Set so we didn’t have to come out of pocket for much cash. If you are starting from scratch, expect to spend around $300-400 or so depending on lumber prices and swing prices.

$300 isn’t exactly chump change, but if you compare it to what you can buy, it’s a great deal considering that my kids are older.  I want something that I can swing on as well, so we needed a taller and wider set than what you can buy typically.  

Part of the big expense is the brackets for the wood.  You don’t have to use these brackets but we used them in our playset previously and love the stability they add.

You’ll need help because lumber this long is heavy and awkward when it comes time to put it together.  

DIY Swing set measurements

DIY Swing Set Instructions and Materials

DIY Swing Set for Kids

DIY Swing Set for Kids
A DIY Swing Set that can be built in one day
Prep Time 1 hour
Active Time 1 days
Total Time 1 days 1 hour
Difficulty Medium
Estimated Cost $300

Materials

  • 1 - 4x6x12 pressure treated beam
  • 4 - 4x4x10 pressure treated posts for the legs
  • 2 - 2x6x8 boards for the leg cross braces
  • 6 - swing hangers
  • 2 - swing set (A-frame) brackets
  • 12 - 3/8x7 bolts for attaching the swing hangers to the top beam
  • 24-3/8 flat washers
  • 12-3/8 locknuts
  • 8-3/8x3 lag screws
  • Galvanized or zinc coated lag screws (these came with the brackets)

Tools

  • Drill
  • 3/8x12 inch drill bit
  • Drill bit to predrill lag screw holes
  • Ratchet set or wrench
  • Hammer
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Stain
  • Saw
  • Pencil

Instructions

  1. Measure the top beam for the placement of the swing hangers. We added three swings so we needed to measure for 6 hangers. Mark the holes for the hanger bolts. We spaced the hangers 18" apart for the small swing and trapeze bar and then spaced the platform swing according to the directions (these may be swing specific). There is a minimum of 12" between each swing.
  2. Drill through the beam where the marks are for the hanger bolts. Make sure you drill at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Insert 3/8x7 bolts with flat washers through the hangers into the beam from the bottom, and then secure the bolts with another flat washer and locknut on top. Make sure your bolts are long enough to get through the beam and have enough length for the thickness of the swing hangers, washers and locknuts.
  4. Attach the swing set brackets to each end of the top beam - you may need a rubber mallet to tap them into place. Use a piece of scrap wood as a buffer so you don't dent the brackets
  5. Attach the legs
  6. Get lots of manpower to help you stand it upright
  7. Attach a 2x6 to the legs on each side for extra stability using the 3/8x3 lag screws. You can mark the angles and cut them to be even with legs.
  8. You may need to level the swing set a little using a shovel
  9. Install swing set anchors according to instructions
  10. Attach the swings to the swing hangers
  11. You may want to let the wood dry for a week or two, remove the swings and then stain using an exterior stain

Helpful Tips for a DIY Swing Set

  • When drilling the holes into the top beam to attach the swing hangers, it can be difficult to keep the drill straight.  The beam is 6 inches thick so you need a long drill bit.  My husband attached two small scrap boards together to make a guide for the bit.  It worked perfectly and kept it from going in all crazy!
  • When attaching the brackets to each end of the top beam, use a scrap board to rest up against the bracket and then tap it with a rubber mallet.  This way you don’t damage the bracket.  Pre-drill holes for each lag screw and then screw them in.  
  • Attaching the swing hangers – We used a 5/16″ bit to drill holes to fit the 3/8″ bolts we used for the three swing hangers.  It turned out to be a bit tight to get the bolts in.  He tried drilling again with a corded drill but it just stuck.  He ended up using a mallet to push them in the rest of the way.  In hindsight, he said he should’ve used a larger bit.  You drill in through the bottom and then attach the nut to the bolt on top of the beam.
  • And it’s a perfect learning experience for older kids too – show them how to do things!  It takes a bit longer, but they can learn some valuable skills along the way!
  • Bring the large beam to the location of your playset if it isn’t there already – you don’t want to have to move it a long distance after the legs are attached.  
  • Attach the legs and screw them in place.  The green brackets that each leg goes into had bolts with it.  We tightened the bolts so they wouldn’t slip out when we stood it up but waited until it was all upright and level to finish tightening.  Building a DIY Swing Set
  • You’ll need help lifting this thing up.  The easiest way is to attach the legs to each bracket, then get help and stand it up.  It’s not an easy job.  We only had myself, my husband, and my son, and had to attach one side of the legs, then rest the top beam on top of a ladder (with my husband holding it steady).  I don’t recommend this though.  It was virtually impossible to get the legs into the other brackets while it was balanced on the ladder.  (we made sure to give ourselves room in case it fell, but it was pretty sturdy on top of the ladder).  So just attach the legs on the ground, then lift it up with lots of strong peeps!
  • Then add a 2×6 (cut to the proper length) in the middle of each leg for added stability.  We bought 8 feet boards and then cut them to fit. 
  • Add the anchors to each leg and secure it in the ground.  This set is 12 feet wide and the legs are 10 feet high so it needs to be stabilized.  The swings go pretty high and so far there’s no swaying or unsteadiness.  
  • Add your swings and enjoy it!
  • Wait for the wood to dry out – I let ours sit for two weeks, and then stained it using an exterior grade stain.  The swings attach to the hangers with carabiners so I just quickly removed them when I stained so they didn’t get messy. 

How to build a DIY Swing Set

Choosing Swings

For our DIY Swing Set, we let the kids choose what they wanted.  It works perfectly because more than one person can use the platform swing.  

  • Platform Swing – the exact one we got is out of stock, but this one is very similar. It holds up to 600 pounds!  There’s plenty of room for adults and children and it goes high!  I’d say this one gets the most use so far.  It comes with everything you need to assemble and hang.
  • Swing – This is rated up to 300 pounds and has the soft plastic coating on the chains so it won’t pinch fingers.
  • Trapeze Swing Bar/Rings – This was a request from my 8-year-old daughter who loves flipping over this thing and hanging upside down.  It also has the same plastic coated chains.  They don’t get hot in the blazing sun and don’t pinch fingers.  

My kids love this DIY Swing Set and so do we!  It’s only been up for a few weeks and it gets daily use.  I compared what we could’ve bought for the same money and it wasn’t much.  The swing sets I found online in that price range were not as tall or sturdy as this one and were intended more for smaller children.  My 11-year-old son is nearly as big as me already so I wanted something we could all feel secure on.  This is perfect!  

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