How to Make and Hang a Rope Swing

Building a rope swing is simple and is a great way to encourage children to get outdoors and play. The following steps will outline how to build a sturdy wooden seat rope swing that will last.

Step 1 - Choose a Suitable Tree

  • Choose a sturdy, tall tree far from driveways and doorways.
  • The horizontal branch for the tree rope swing must be at least 8 inches in diameter or 24 inches in circumference for safety.  
  • The branch should be at most 12 feet off the ground. The higher the support branch, the higher your child can swing. This may not be safe for small children.

    Step 2 - Build the Seat

    • Choose a length of water- and pest-resistant cedar or redwood for the swing seat.  For each seat, use a piece 8 inches wide, 2 inches thick and 18 inches in length.
    • Sand each seat with fine-grade sandpaper.
    • Drill 4 holes, 1 inch in diameter into each seat for the ropes. They should be 1 inch from the shortest sides and 2 inches inward from the front and rear edges. Four holes balance the swing seat and prevent twisting.

      Step 3 - Choose and Hang the Ropes from the Tree

      • Use synthetic, nylon-blend ropes which will resist rot and unravelling.
      • For a 12-foot branch, you will need at least 60 feet of 1-inch rope.
      • Cut this length of rope in half to make two ropes for each swing.
      • Set an extension ladder against the tree to hang the tree swing.  If you don't have one, tie a hard ball into a sock and attach it to the end of the rope, then toss the ball over the branch. Pull both ends of the rope till they are even. Even up the  opposite rope by the same method.
      • Tie a loose slip knot in the rope and pull it up to the branch to secure it. Do the same with the other rope. Keep the ends of each rope even.

        Step 4 - Attach the Seat

        • Knot the ropes for each side of the swing together, about 12 inches above the seat top.
        • Attach the seat to the ropes. Push the rope ends through the seat holes and knot them firmly. Measure by eye to ensure the seat is leveled.
        • Melt the knots slightly with a propane torch to seal.
        • A second rope swing can be attached on a branch more than five horizontal feet long if there is more than one child.
        • Make a rope swing chair for one person, with a backrest for balance.  

          Backrest Seat

          Use a 12-inch wide board, 2 inches thick, and 24 inches long. Drill 4 rope holes as for an 8-inch wide seat.  Fasten a 12 x 24-inch backrest to the seat's rear edge with 2 inch wood screws. Sand to remove all rough edges and surfaces.  

          Hang the Rope Swing Chair

          Attach the ropes as for the small rope swing. Fasten to a large tree branch, or between a pair of smaller trees. The seat should be 2 to 3 feet off the ground.