How to Build a Rope Tree Swing – attach the seat and tie the specialized knots for the seat and steel quick links. This project is continued from Part 1.
Stopper Knots for the Rope Swing Seat
Measure a 10 feet length of rope and push each end through the top holes in the seat end. Tie an Ashley’s Stopper Knot in each end of the rope as shown here:
With another 10 foot length of rope, do the same for the opposite end of the seat. Take care to adjust the position of the 2nd stopper knot to ensure the seat is level. Leave a short pigtail in the knots as shown for extra security.
Rope Tree Swing Final Assembly
Install a 5/16in stainless steel quick link (also known as a “chain link”) on each of the seat rope loops. This product has a working load of 1760 lbs – more than strong enough for this project. Do not use aluminum or cheap look alikes as commonly seen on school backpacks – those will break and get you hurt.
The red arrows point to the quick links:
Hanging the Rope Tree Swing Seat
Adjust the slack so the swing seat is about 24 inches above the ground, and tie the rope hanging from the tree limb to the stainless steel quick link with a Buntline Hitch. Here’s a closeup of the steel quick link and knot:
Before tying off the Buntlineknot at the opposite end, place the carpenter’s level on the swing seat and adjust the final knot position so both ends of the seat are even.
The steel quick link will bite into the hollow core braided rope (red arrow) as shown in the next photo making a flat spot in the rope. This is essential for stability such that the seat doesn’t spill over. Tipping has never had a problem on my swing.
If seat tipping becomes a problem, try looping the rope once around the steel quick link to increase friction.
Rope Tree Swing Construction Tips
- Melt the synthetic rope ends with a butane lighter to seal the braids so it doesn’t unravel.
- Check the tree limb every season to see that’s it’s healthy, strong and the rope is in good shape.
These next photos were taken 3 years later to clarify how the swing is setup in response to several reader questions. The ropes are looped over an uneven branch, the two points maybe 14 or 18 inches difference in height. The ropes are very long about 15 feet from the swing seat to the branch. The swing moves straight because the difference between the two attachment points to the tree branch is small relative to the total length of the ropes.
Close up view from above:
What If You Don’t Have a Tree?
A reader asked me:
Hello Bob, I have wanted a tree swing in my back yard for EVER. Problem is, I don’t have a big tree. Darn it. I thought a great tree replacement would be a light pole that are used for traffic lights. I have tried to get information about the light poles and have found dead ends everywhere. I live in Minnesota. I think the light poles are aluminum? I think they could be very strong if they were secured to the ground with footings and decorative pillar looking bases. What do you think? am I nuttier than normal? Could you help me accomplish a dream so I don’t have to wait to grow a tree?
Rope Swing Support Frame Design
I doubt the arm of a lamp post would be strong and durable enough to support a rope swing, but Julie’s thinking is in the right direction. If you don’t have a suitable tree to hang the swing from a branch, the following scale diagram for a rope swing supported by wood posts will work:
The key elements are:
- 6in by 6in by 12 feet pressure treated wood posts. 6×6 posts are very strong.
– Round off the corners of the posts to remove sharp edges that could cause injury.
- A heavy galvanized Schedule 80 (.276″ thick) steel pipe set in the center of the posts to support the swing. The scale drawing shows 7’10” long, but you leave it at 8′ in length for simplicity.
– The pipe wall thickness is extremely important for strength!
- The galvanized support pipe is fixed in place by two 3/8″ diameter bolts (retaining pins) in each end.
- Build the swing seat and tie the knots in the normal way as shown in this project.
The swing support frame can be built for about $250 in materials:
- ~$66.00 for two 6x6x12 pressure treated #2 Southern Yellow Pine posts @ $33 each.
- ~$125.00 estimate for an 8 foot long by 2.5″ diameter Schedule 80 (~1/4″ thick pipe wall) galvanized pipe.
- ~50.00 for ten 50lb bags of Quikrete® Fast Setting Concrete Mix at $5/bag each.
- Couple of dollars for 3.5″ x 3/8 dia. bolts, lock washers and nuts.
Rope Tree Swing Improvements
Steve Maier improved built the rope tree with several great improvements:
- Steel seat washers for the Ashley’s Stopper Knot.
- Quick release S hooks to remove the seat and attach a disc seat, tire or rope foot loop.
- A knot or two above the steel quick links for handholds when using the foot loop.
See Steve’s comments below dated May 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm for a complete description. Steve was kind enough to send photos of his swing – very nice job! I like the stained wood seat.
Rope tree swing tied to a 34 feet high branch on a cottonwood tree:
Quick release S hook below the steel quick link:
Seat washer for the Ashley’s Stopper Knot:
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