A patio swing adds immediate charm to any outdoor area. It looks whimsical and inviting. It adds a homey touch. And it's even fun to sit in. The problem? It's expensive to buy one of these ready-to-go from the store. With some power tools and DIY skills, you can create your own pergola swing for your patio and add this charming, practical sitting spot anywhere you want.
DIY With Care
When building any construction project, make sure you're using quality materials and the right hardware. A forgotten bolt, the wrong size screw, even a little mistake can cause the structure you're building to be unsafe. When you’re building a swing, you want to be sure to work precisely and with care.
If your pergola swing is well-built then it will continue to bring joy and beauty to your outdoor area for years. If it is not, it can become a potential safety hazard for anyone who tries to use it.
Making a Pergola
Before you begin, assemble all of your materials and tools. Once you get into the flow of your DIY, you won't want to stop. Make sure you've got everything you need beforehand so you don't end up stopping your project for a trip to the hardware store.
Step 1 - Pick a Spot for Your Swing
Pick out the exact spot where you want to erect your swing. Decide how big you want the swing and the surrounding pergola to be. Measure the area. If you don't know the size of your project, how can you build it?
Step 2 - Cut all of Your Wood
Make sure you have all the wood you need and get it cut with a miter saw or a skill saw. You need to cut pieces to match the measurements of the space where you will erect your pergola. For example, if you are going to build a swing that is four feet wide, you want your two main support posts to be nine feet apart. This will leave two and a half feet of clearance on either side of the swing between the swing and the support pole.
Step 3 - Dig Your Holes
You want your pergola to be well-supported and solid...and that means you have to dig. Use an auger to dig about three feet down and about one foot wide for each main support pole.
Step 4 - Mix Concrete
Mix up concrete according to the instructions that will be on the bag. Place the first post in the first hole. You will need help in order to do this. Make sure the pole is steady and plumb and then fill the hole with concrete. Keep pouring until the concrete is level with the ground.
Step 5 - Repeat with the Second Pole
Again, make sure the pole is plumb and level and make sure the two poles are even with each other.
Step 6 - Let the Concrete Set Overnight
When it's all dry, you'll have extremely sturdy supports for your pergola and swing structure.
Step 7 - Level the Posts
Measure eight feet from the ground to the top of each pole and cut them off at this height. Use a string level to ensure that the posts are level with each other. A reciprocating or circular saw will work nicely to level off the posts.
Step 8 - Position the Crossbeams
Place one crossbeam across the front of the two posts at the very top of the structure, leveling it so it just comes to the top of the posts. Place a screw in each end of the beam, into the post, as a temporary means of holding it in place.
Step 9 - Repeat
Repeat this process for the crossbeam on the other side.
Step 10 - Drill the Crossbeams
Drill a hole through the crossbeams and post at each end. Place a washer on a rust-proof carriage bolt and place it through the hole. Secure it in place with a washer and a nut. Tighten it down with a socket wrench.
Step 11 - Repeat
Repeat this bolt process on the other side of the structure.
Step 12 - Find the Center of the Structure and Mark
Measure out from the center point to perfectly place the swing.
Step 13 - Add the Supports
Place one-foot pieces of 6x6 wood between the cross beams at the center point and the two endpoints of the swing. Use carriage bolts, nuts and washers to secure the supports through the cross beams, placing two on each side.
Step 14 - Place the Bolts
Drill holes to install heavy-duty anchor bolts at each endpoint where the swing will be secured to the pergola. Drill through the bottom of the supports to secure these bolts.
Step 15 - Add the Trim
Add 4x6 pieces of wood to the top, going across the crossbeams. This would make the short pieces of wood perpendicular to the beams. Place these pieces six to 12 inches apart and screw them into place.
Step 16 - Stain and Steal Your Pergola
After all that hard work, you want your pergola to look great and last as long as possible. Stain the wood and seal it against the weather so it will stay beautiful.
Making a Swing
Once your pergola is built and secure, you can attach an already assembled swing or make your own to hang.
Step 1 - Cut the Pieces
Use a jigsaw to create curved pieces. Draw out the curve on the wood before you cut and follow the lines precisely.
Step 2 - Sand the Wood
Use a belt sander to get all the wood smooth. Your pergola does not need to be sanded but the seat certainly does. You don't want people getting splinters on your seat.
Step 3 - Pre-Drill Pilot Holes
You want two holes at each end of the seat plank and four holes in each end of the vertical supports at the top and bottom. This prep-step will help the rest of the assembly go smoothly.
Step 4 - Build the Skeleton
Attach the back support, front support, seat support and railing together.
Step 5 - Attach the Supports
Attach the seat supports and the bottom slats to the swing and the back of the swing using screws.
Step 6 - Assemble the Rest
Attach the sides to the back and bottom of the swing, then attach the armrests.
Step 7 - Drill Holes
Drill holes for the anchor bolts, two on each side of the swing, and then screw eye bolts into the anchor bolts.
Step 8 - Stain and Finish the Seat
Add your stain and your sealant to the swing to finish it.
Step 9 - Add the Chain
Place the chain into the eyebolts and hang the swing.
Optional Variant: You can make a much simpler swing seat using two 10-inch wide pieces of wood 36 inches long each. Use 2x2 boards measuring 18 inches long and secure these, crosswise, to the two pieces of long wood to bring them together and create a simple bench seat. Sand the wood thoroughly and drill holes at either end, through the bottom supports, to use rope or chain to secure the seat to the pergola.