What’s better than an indoor rocking chair? Not much, really — except for maybe an outdoor rocking chair swing.
Did you know you could make a tree swing on your own? Well, you can! In fact, it may even be easier to do than you think.
If you’re ready to embark on a great DIY project that the whole family can enjoy, follow our kid’s rocking chair swing guide with step-by-step instructions.
What You’ll Need
- Strong Rocking Chair
- Big Sturdy Tree Ladder
- Heavy Duty Drill (must be able to drill 1/2 inch holes)
- 100 Yards of Rope
- 2 Eyebolts (1/2 inch diameter)
- 2 Nautical Thimbles
- 4 Nuts and Washers
- Outdoor Paint or Spray Paint
1. Choose Your Chair
To get ready for your DIY kid’s rocking chair project, first, you must choose the chair to make a swing.
There are many options you can choose from for the chair. One option is to purchase a new rocking chair, that can either come unfinished or in various colors.
Another option is to repurpose an older chair from your home that you already own. Or, you could go to a consignment store or thrift shop and pick up a previously owned one to refurbish on your own.
If you choose to refinish a used chair, follow these steps to get the chair ready to become a swing:
- Bring the chair outside.
- Use sandpaper to sand down the top layer of the chair. This will help the new layer of paint stick well.
- Paint a layer of primer first. You can use spray paint or regular outdoor paint with a paintbrush. Oftentimes you’ll see smoother results with spray paint, but go with whichever you are more comfortable doing.
- Paint the chair with the color paint of your choice. You might want to wear gloves if you use spray paint. (Don’t bother painting the legs because you will remove those next.)
- Let the chair dry for at least one whole day before moving onto the next step.
- Once the paint is dry, remove the legs from the seat of the chair.
- Drill half inch holes (depending on the exact size of your rope) into all four corners of the seat, plus two more holes on the top rail of the chair — one on the left and one on the right.
2. Pick Your Spot
Once the chair is painted and ready, the next step is to choose the location to hang it.
You can hang the swing from your favorite tree or any other big sturdy tree. A hardwood tree with strong branches will work well. In fact, oak trees tend to be the best choice for rope swings.
Consider the safest placement for a swing for your children — don’t pick a spot too close to a road or near prickly bushes.
The branch you choose to hang the swing from should be at least 8 inches wide. Pick a healthy branch — nothing with diseases or infestations, and definitely no dead branches. It’s best not to pick a branch that is more than 20 feet off the ground.
3. Prep the Tree
If you thought you could just throw some rope over your tree, you’re in for a surprise. Turns out tying rope around a branch can really damage a tree.
For this part you’ll need your drill, eyebolts, washers and nuts. Use a ladder (be careful!) to climb up the tree to the designated branch. Drill two half-inch holes into the tree. Insert the eyebolts from the bottom of each hole; add a washer (or two) and a lock nut on each to hold the eyebolt securely in place.
4. Get Your Rope Ready
Choose your rope wisely for this DIY project. A braided polyester rope is a great choice — it’s very strong and won’t stretch easily. Avoid nylon rope since it’s likely to stretch after some time. Don’t pick polypropylene rope either — it’s too lightweight and won’t hold up to weather condition. UV rays and exposure to rain will make the rope deteriorate overtime, so whichever rope you choose, plan on replacing it every few years.
Next, use your rope to tie knots around each of the nautical thimbles. Using thimbles rather than tying the rope directly to the eye bolts will make it so that you can easily take the swing down and put it back up whenever you want, for example, during the winter or for any other reason.
A bowline knot or another slipknot is a reliable and secure option and is useful to know how to tie anyway.
Here are the steps for tying a bowline knot:
- Place the rope across your left hand.
- Make a loop.
- From the bottom side of the loop, draw the free end through the eye of the loop.
- Wrap the free end around the line of the rope and press it back down the loop.
- Hold the line and pull the free end to tighten the knot.
5. Hang the Chair
Use the ladder (be careful!) to climb back up to the tree branch and attach the thimble with the bowline knots to the eyebolts in the tree. Then pull the rope through the holes. Start with the back of the chair and then do the front. Tip the chair back a little so that it’s less likely that someone might fall out.
The final step to setting up your DIY kid’s rocking chair swing is to pull the rope so the chair is about two feet above the ground (give or take, you can decide the height that is most comfortable for your family). Cut the ends off the rope and tie tight knots underneath the seat of the chair.
Voila! You and your family are ready to swing.
Rocking chairs make wonderful gifts and it turns out they’re more versatile than you may have originally thought. Try this DIY project for a new and fun twist on a rocking chair, and add a special treat to the outside of your home.