Building a Homemade Zip Line

A zip line is a fun addition to an outdoor space, but it's crucial that you recognize the inherent dangers of installing a zip line on your property. Zip lines are lines of rope or thick wire on which a set of handles is mounted. A zip line rider holds onto the handles to support himself and rides the wire by hanging from the handles. There are many potential dangers involved in riding a zip line, including those based on the installation of the line itself. Read on for a guide on how to safely install a zip line at home.

Tools and Materials

  • Specially made zip line trolley
  • Handlebars for water skiing
  • 3/8 inch galvanized steel cable, longer than the distance for the zip line to allow for extra as needed
  • Turnbuckle
  • Climbing rope and harness
  • Carabiners
  • Cable clamp setup and anchors
  • Eyelet and threaded steel rod, welded together
  • Power drill
  • Rubber mallet
  • Appropriately sized nuts and bolts

Step 1 -- Drill the First Hole

Determine where you'll attach the top end of the zip line. In most cases, this will be a tree. Be sure that the tree is large and healthy enough to support the weight of anyone who will use the line. Use the power drill to make a hole all the way through the tree. The bit should be exactly the same size as the threaded steel rod.

Step 2 -- Set up the Anchors

Use the steel rod to thread the anchors through the hole in the tree by hitting it with the rubber mallet. Bolt them into place on the tree and add nuts on the ends of the bolts to secure them. Add a second set of anchors by drilling another hole. Repeat the process on the final destination of the zip line as well.

Step 3 -- Clear the Intervening Area

Attach the climbing rope to both ends of the zip line and use it to help clear out any branches or other items that may be in the way. Keep in mind that people will be hanging below the rope when you go to clear out any debris and other items that you might hit.

Step 4 -- Attach the Cable

Attach the cable at the top end of the line by securing it through three separate anchors, each about 3 inches apart on the tree. Attach it at the base of the line as well, and place the grounding clamp about 6 to 8 feet away from the tree at the base. Attach the turnbuckle at the base by threading it through the anchor hole.

Step 5 -- Test for Safety

Before installing the handlebars on your zip line set, install a safety rope about a foot above the main line. Do not allow it to dip below the cable. Test the cable thoroughly for strength and for secure connections at both the base and the top. Hook up the handlebars to the line and do a test run of the handlebars alone to make sure that they are secure.