How to Build a Homemade Backyard Swing Set

Paul Swenson shares how to build a homemade backyard swing set, includes diagrams, step-by-step instructions and a play set materials list.

| May/June 1988

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    You'll have to think big, even when building for little people. The play set takes up a 16 feet by 20 feet space and stands about 12 feet tall.
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    Diagram: Slide runoff from left side of the opening photo.
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    Diagram: Detail A, leg post end detail.
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    Diagram: Play set materials list.
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    It may look like a big job, but this back-yard playground is within the abilities of most any would-be woodwright. Just be sure to site it and plan carefully before you touch saw to lumber!

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  • material list
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Building a backyard swing set. Treat your kids to a royal recreation set for those times when play's the thing. (See the play set diagrams in the image gallery.)

How to Build a Homemade Backyard Swing Set

MOTHER has never been one to turn down a good offer, so when Iowa reader Paul Swenson agreed to share his plans for a back-yard recreation set, we took him up on it. His design came from studying play sets in public parks and looking through dozens of catalogues. His motivation? Downright practical:

"The garden was becoming a pain, so I put a sandbox there, and I made it big so I could play in it with my daughter. The measurements are based on what could be done using 8 foot railroad ties, standard lumber and nice round numbers."

Happily, the information and sketches Paul provided allowed our research and workshop specialist, Dennis Burkholder, to build a duplicate in a staffer's back yard (he also worked in a few changes for improvement's sake). The finished play set, dubbed "swing city" by the kids (more for the capital sprawl of its 12 feet by 16 feet by 20 feet dimensions than for its hanging hardware), was a sensation even before bolt one was drawn tight.

Before breaking ground in your own yard, see if you have the room. Though the sandbox is less than 9 feet square, the top beam extends some 2½ feet and 5½ feet beyond either side. The slide projects nearly 12 feet forward of the sandbox.

If space isn't a problem, materials and tools should be a cinch. All the lumber and hardware you'll need are itemized in the materials list—nothing unusual, except perhaps for the galvanized slide surface, which any sheet metal shop should be able to fold up for about $40. An average collection of tools will get the job done, but in addition to a tape measure, claw hammer, large screwdriver, locking pliers and adjustable wrench, you should have a crosscut handsaw, a coping saw, a level and a protractor, a shovel, a rake and a 3/8-inch electric drill with 1/8-inch and 3/l6-inch bits, and a long ½-inch spade bit. A circular saw can be used for the few rip cuts if you don't have access to a table saw.

3/15/2016 8:02:32 AM

I built an incredible playhouse using WWW.EASYPLAYHOUSE.INFO - My daughter had wanted a playhouse for two years... but I didn't want to spend thousands on one of those 'kits'. Thanks to that website, I finally built her playhouse - quickly and easily! Now all the neighborhood kids are coming to our house to play! It's great to know I fulfilled my little one's dreams of an INCREDIBLE playhouse. Best of luck to you and your family with your new playhouse :) PS you DEFINITELY don't have to be a professional to pull this offf...much easier than you may think!

4/24/2014 11:40:56 AM

This is a great design. I purchased a swing set kit, and a year later it is falling apart. I wish I would have used this design instead. It has inspired me, however, to reinforce the one my existing one.

6/12/2011 11:36:01 AM

like to know how to obtain plans for the King Of The Backyard Swings


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