Nothing spells fun in the outdoors better than a summer spent swinging on a single rope tree swing with siblings and cousins. I have fond memories of the simple swing our Grandpa made for us in their backyard. We would take turns swinging each other on it and that brought a lot of joy in our childhood.
So when I was renovating my outdoor living space, I knew I wanted to re-create that simple swing so my children could also experience those simpler times when we had all the fun outdoors. But the question is: how do you make a single rope tree swing?
The supplies that you’ll need:
- 2x10, 2x6 or 2x4 wood for your seating. You can choose the size of the seat depending on your preference. Also, make sure to use hardwood like oak or red cedar because they don’t split easily and can last for a long time.
- Extra 2x4 or 2x3 woods for seat support. These pieces have to be as long as the width of your swing
- 1/2” or larger diameter rope
- Hand drill
- Chop or skill saw
- Wood spade bit
The steps to making your single rope tree swing
- Start by sanding all your wood pieces first to ensure that all edges are smooth and the board is comfortable to sit on. I used a 2x8-inch board that was already ground rated and pressure treated so I won’t have any problems later on. Cut the board to the right size and round the corners by using a paint can to trace around the wood and using a hand saw to cut off those edges to create rounded corners for your seating.
- Create a hole on the board where you’re going to attach the rope. I used a 5/8-inch drill bit to drill the hole on my swing because it’s big enough for the rope to be secured to the seating.
- If you want the board to look new for a long time, it’s best to paint or stain it on all surfaces. Start with a primer and let it dry thoroughly before applying the paint or stain. It’s also best to apply a coat of polyurethane on the wood after the stain dries. This will allow the paint or stain to stay longer and keep your board looking brand new.
- Put the rope on the hole in the middle of the board and use a knot to secure it in place.
Once your single rope tree swing is done, it’s time to hang it properly so you and your kids can start enjoying it. Here are some tips that you can use:
Find the right tree
You can’t just pick any tree in your backyard to be the stand for your swing. Rather, it has to be a strong, straight, mature and healthy hardwood like oak, maple and beech for it to withstand the weight of your swing.
Avoid trees like birch, black willow and poplar because they are brittle and weak, which make them unsafe for attaching a single rope tree swing.
Before choosing the right tree, you need to evaluate it for any signs of fungus or rotting. A healthy tree should not have any hollows, cracks or traces of wood boring insects.
Its leaves should be properly shaped and there should only be a minimum of broken or dead branches. You should also check for any broken limbs that might pose a safety hazard to those riding your swing.
Find the right limb
Now that you have found the right tree, it’s time to look for the perfect limb from where you will attach your single rope tree swing. The right limb should be at least 8 inches in diameter and it should have no signs of fungus, cracks, holes and breakage, especially where the trunk meets the limb. It’s also important to make it a habit to check the limb for any changes even after the swing is hung.
Choose a limb that’s at list 20 feet off the ground because it will offer a better arc and rhythm to your swing. Of course, you can also work with the highest height that you have, as long as it is within safe limits. If you don’t know exactly what tree to pick for this project, you can always hire a tree specialist to help you out.
Think about the landing zone
Before attaching the single rope tree swing, try to imagine where it would go once it’s already swinging. This will be your landing zone and it has to be clear of any hard surfaces and other hazards that could put your kids at risk for collisions when they’re using the swing. Remove any intruding branches, exposed roots or rocks before hanging the swing.
Choose the right rope
Although you can use just about any type of rope for your swing, there are four varieties that offer the most benefit in terms of efficiency, strength and build. Polyester is the most popular rope because it’s strong, weather resistant and has a natural UV that make it perfect for swings.
Manila is another popular option because it is biodegradable, holds knots extremely well and it’s soft to the hands making it perfect for kids holding the rope while swinging. Manila also looks classy and it’s one of the cheapest ropes you’ll find in the market.
Hang the swing
Once everything’s ready, you simply need to hang the swing on the right limb by climbing the tree using a ladder or rope. Then, you can simply secure the swing in place and test it out for any problems. Make sure to press down on the seating, pull all the ropes and check all the knots before allowing your kids to use the swing.
Having a single rope tree swing is definitely nostalgic in many ways. So if you’re looking for a fun activity that will encourage your kids to spend time outdoors, you can never go wrong with investing in your own single rope tree swing.