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How I Built My Own Backyard Swing Set – Part 1


Building a free standing swing set is not as difficult as one might think. With decent sets costing over $1,500, I decided to build one myself to my own specifications.

Over the years, many AllThumbsDIY readers have been asking me to publish a compact ebook on building a backyard swing set. Unlike my blog posts, this book contains far more detailed information which will make your life easier when building your own swing set. Read more about it here


This project is lengthy, so I broke up the article into 3 parts:


With my kids rapidly growing, I wanted to buy them a sage and sturdy play swing set. With most main beams weighing over 100 pounds, the last thing I want is a shoddy swing set with poor design.

I checked 6 or 7 dealers and found that most decent sets were priced well over the $1,500+ range, including sets made from metal, PVC and other materials. I found a really nice swing set made from red cedar (the same one that is pictured at the beginning of this article) but that was priced over $2,700!

When buying a swing set, it is important to pay attention to detail. Here is a short list of things to watch out for when buying a set


Kids are amazingly talented pushing design limits to put themselves in to danger. To minimize the risk of injury:

  • We should create a buffer zone that should be roughly twice the height of the swing. For example, if the height of the swing is 6 feet, the front buffer zone should be approximately 12 feet. Rear buffer zone should also be approximately 12 feet;
  • The distance between seats should be 24 inches or greater (to avoid hitting each other while swinging);
  • The distance between a seat and the nearest support structure should be be 30 inches or greater;


First of all, if you can afford it, go with red cedar. Red cedar is naturally resistant to rot and has minimal splinter risk, but it is super expensive (about 5 times the cost of a pressure-treated lumber where I live).

Second, with a $500 budget, I decided to use pressure treated (PT) lumber because it is inexpensive. I was not concerned with PT lumber because unlike the play gym, I didn’t expect kids to touch the frame of a swing set that often, if at all.

PT 4x4s come with sharp corner edges so to minimize the risk of getting splinters, I will need to round off the edges using a router.

Lastly, I originally intended to build a backyard play gym that was attached to the swing set. However, due to the size of my lot (100 x 385), I just could not make the configurations work without sacrificing features that my son and daughter wanted.

Instead, we decided to build and locate them separately. So my goals were to:

  • Build a simple but rustic looking swing set that can take a beating;
  • Handle up to 4 children, using 3 rides (third one being a Mega Rider Swing Seat that supports 2 kids)


I really liked the this swing set (pix below) I found at a local store but at $2700, it was just too expensive. Instead, I am going to try to create a slightly different version of it.

My version:

  • Main Beam – This is the horizontal beam that will carry the bulk of the swinging weight. It needs to resist the vertical and angular forces as well as to provide torsional rigidity (i.e. twisting). I’ve elected to utilize a 4 x 6 x 12 ft long PT lumber (12 extra inches on either side so the effective span would be about 10 ft)
  • Vertical + Horizontal Supports – Use 4 x 4 x 10 ft PT lumber with contiguous load-bearing beams, attached to a 30-degree triangular base for stability;
  • Ground Support Braces – 2 x 6 PT to tie in vertical pieces
  • Connectors – All connections will be made with galvanized bolts, washers and nuts from Simpson-Strong. The only exception is for the ground support braces which will be secured to the veritical and horizontal braces Simpson-Strong structural lag screws.



Qty Item Where to Buy
1 4 x 6 x 12, Pressure Treated, SYP Local Lumber Yard
9 4 x 4 x 10, Pressure Treated, SYP Local Lumber Yard
2 2 x 6 x 8, Pressure Treated, SYP Local Lumber Yard
4 1/2″ galvanized carriage bolts x 6.5″ Local Lumber Yard
4 1/2″ galvanized carriage bolts x 10″ Local Lumber Yard
8 1/2″ galvanized carriage bolts x 12″ Local Lumber Yard
16 1/2″ galvanized washers Local Lumber Yard
16 1/2″ galvanized nuts Local Lumber Yard
1 box Simpson 1/4″ x 3″ structural screws Link
1 Swing-N-Slide Extra-Duty Swing Seat (green) Link
1 pair Swing-N-Slide – Extra-Duty Swing Hangers Model #4888 Link
1 pair Congo Play – Commercial Swing Hanger Galvanized Model # SH-04; Link
1 Swing-N-Slide – Mega Rider Link
1 Swing-N-Slide – Extra-Duty Swing Seat (green) Link
1 Swing-N-Slide – Heavy-Duty Trapeze Swing Bar Link

*SYP = Southern Yellow Pine (commonly found at local large box retailers)
*PT = Pressure Treated

Swing Hangers – If you want to know why I chose these swing hangers, read my post “Review – Heavy Duty Swing Hangers For A Backyard Swing Set



Other than few drill bits, rest of the tools are pretty standard. If you don’t own most of them, you will need to borrow them but as a DIY, it’s a good idea to start buying them couple at a time as you will need them to build things like decks and tree houses in the future.

When cutting 4x4s, I placed the miter saw on the ground which is really bad on my back. If you have a saw horse roller (like this Craftsman Roller Stand 11-1/2″ Roller Steel Support Stand), you can use your saw horses as a workbench.


In How I Built My Own Backyard Swing Set – Part 2 post, I will show you how I built the swing set frame.

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Thanks and good luck!





Monday 25th of May 2020

Do you have a link to your e-book? Our current playset was purchased by the prior home-owners and it is getting long in tooth. Given covid production delays, I want to remove the metal bracket and just go with wood. Two additional questions, how high is the 4x6 from the ground? I apologize if i missed this detail in your post. Lastly, did you let the wood dry out after you purchased? I've read pros/cons o doing this as the wood might warp during the drying. Any by drying i mean sit in my garage for a week. Bonus question, did you use an specific sealer or did you not bother given the wood was pressure treated? Thanks for the detailed instructions. Be well


Friday 29th of May 2020

Hi Demetri-

I will try to find that link for you... As far as your questions:

1) The set was originally designed for 5-7 year olds so I used 4 x 4 x 10ft long pieces for side support. With the angle, the mainbeam came to be about 7 1/2 ft from the ground (not too high, not too low)

2) My structure was VERY sturdy so absolutely no warp at all;

3. No sealer; looking back, I probably would have applied a nice coat of red cedar like sealer though..

I will be in touch soon!


Wednesday 29th of April 2020

Do you recall how many hrs to fabricate and setup?


Monday 18th of May 2020

Hi Dan-

With all parts on site and prepped, it took me about 8 hours to assemble (by myself).

If you have friends help out, it will obviously go much faster.

Send me some pix once you are done building!



Sunday 20th of May 2018

I'm new to everything wood working and I was wondering if there was a 1/2" collet for the recommended dewalt router? I purchased both at the same time and the linked dewalt router and the linked router bit don't go together. I've asked around but no one seems to know what i'm talking about. Since you gave them both as examples I was wondering if you could help?


Tuesday 22nd of May 2018

Hi Miranda-

Sorry for the link error!

Rather than buying a 1/2" collet adapter, I would just buy a different router bit with 1/4" shaft (which is compatible with DeWalt) like this one (link). The new one still has the 1/2" radius.

Good luck and contact me to let me know how your project turns out!


Lucas DeLano

Sunday 4th of March 2018

Just built this today to hang a web swing for my 4yo. I only had 14' horizontal space to work with, so scaled your design down with 8' vertical supports and 8' usable space on the 12' beam. Took my brother and I about 4 hours start-to-finish with a pizza break included!

We hung the swing from a 360° swivel intended for rock-climbing that is quiet and insanely smooth, it will spin for a loooooooong time given a good push.

Excellent article, thank you!



Monday 9th of April 2018


Great job! Thank you for sharing your pix


Sunday 16th of July 2017

Feel free to use my photos/comments as you like. I just would like it to be clear that I am in no way an "expert" and that my building ideas are not "time tested".