How to Build a Tree Swing With Metal Cables
Tree swings are one of those age-old sandbox-themed devices used for years to keep children captivated by the rush of adrenaline that comes from swinging through the air. An evolved form of the original tree swing that utilized a rope for the support, a swing utilizing cables is guaranteed to last a lifetime as it will not rot, and the cable's strength will remain intact for as long as your kids and even your grandkids find it entertaining to use as backyard entertainment.
Find a tree that has a large enough branch to support your tree swing. Choose a branch that is at least 6 inches in diameter to ensure that it can handle the weight of anyone using the swing. Measure the distance from the top of the branch to the ground, and have the clerk at your home improvement store cut the cable to length for you.
Drill two holes through the branch roughly 18 inches apart. Run your length of cable through the holes and set a washer on the top side of the branch. Attach a cable clamp on the end of a cable on the top side of the washer so that the washer keeps the cable and clamp firmly on the top side of the branch where it cannot slide through. Loosen the screws on the clamp with your drill and slide the cable through the slot, then tighten the screws to lock the clamp in place on the end of the cable. Repeat the process for the other cable.
Put on your safety glasses and mark the piece of wood with a tape measure and pencil at a length of 20 inches. Cut your 2-by-8 plank down to size with a circular saw. Make a straight cut so that you have a rectangular piece of wood that is 20 inches in length by 8 inches wide.
Attach the drill bit to the drill. Look at the seat as a rectangle. Mark two holes on the outside edges with your tape measure and pencil (left and right sides), one inch in from the outer edges and centered in the middle of the board width-wise. Drill through the wood on your marks to create the holes for the cables.
Choose the smoothest side of the board as the top part of the seat. Run the two cables through the two holes that are drilled on the outer edges of the seat. Slide a washer up the length of one of the cables so that it rests against the under side of the seat. Loosen the screws on a clamp and slide the cable through the slot on the clamp. Use your drill to tighten the screws on the clamp to lock it in place on the underside of the board, under the washer. Repeat the process for the other clamp. Only leave around 1 inch of the cable exposed under the seat and adjust the height from the top side.
Sand the entire surface of the seat down. For added protection on the cables under the seat, use rubber-coated cable and melt an additional bit of rubber over the end of the exposed cable with a lighter to cap the end of the cable underneath the seat of the swing. Adjust the height of the swing if necessary from the top side of the branch by loosening the clamps on the branch and pulling any slack in the cables up through the branch, then re-tighten the clamps once you have the swing at your preferred height.
- All of your supplies and tools can be found at your local home improvement store. Be sure to have them cut your cable down to size when you purchase. Alternatively, you can have the clerk cut your plank down to size for your swing seat as well.
- Wear protective gear when using power tools.
Tim Anderson has been freelance writing since 2007. His has been published online through GTV Magazine, Home Anatomy, TravBuddy, MMO Hub, Killer Guides and the Delegate2 group. He spent more than 15 years as a third-generation tile and stone contractor before transitioning into freelance writing.
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