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Our DIY Playset, Part 2: The Swingset

(It’s Andy again!) If you tuned in last week for the first part of our playground tutorial, you probably already have your tower complete, right? Maybe you even closed in the walls, painted them and added indoor plumbing?

You’ll be happy to hear the swing portion of the playset is much easier to build than the tower. (Kelly will tell you they’re both about the same level of difficulty, if your job is standing in the air conditioner sipping coffee observing your husband make progress outside.)

Remember, our goal is to make something that kind of resembles this:

The first step is to make the a-frame legs out of the 4x4s. You have two options for this step: the super-manly DIY version, and the probably-smarter-definitely-easier store-bought version. (I recommend the latter, unless you’re crazy, or on a strict timeline, like I was.)

Option 1: Probably-smarter-definitely-easier store-bought version

Grab a Swing-N-Slide Frame Bracket and/or EZ Frame Brace from those links or your local home improvement store. Attach the legs of the a-frame using the brace like this:

Frame Bracket 1                                      Frame Bracket 2

Option 2: Super-manly DIY Version

You can notch out the 4×4’s on the top so that the 4×6 will sit between them, resting on top of the notch.  I used my miter saw to make most of the cut and then finished it with a hand saw.

A-frame 1This method is much more difficult but it’s free.  I absolutely recommend option 1, but followed option 2 because our local store didn’t have any of the brackets in stock and I wanted to have the playset done in two days. Plus I like to flex my DIY muscles unnecessarily sometimes. You know, because our to-do list isn’t long enough already.

A-frame 2The next step is to join the a-frame legs together with a 2×4 board, that long horizontal guy you see below.

A-Frame SupportAt this point I made a mistake and mounted the 4×6 beam prematurely.  I realized afterward that I should have laid it out and drilled the holes for the swings before putting it up. I drilled all of the holes with a long 5/16″ drill bit,  then drilled a second larger hole about an inch deep to recess the nut.

Beam from aboveYou definitely need a partner or two (or super powers) to put the 4×6 beam on top of the tower, then stand up and position the a-frame.

(Luckily we had family visiting from out of town, so I recruited my brother and brother-in-law to use their precious vacation time for this purpose. What’s family for, right?  Couldn’t have done it without them. Here’s a shot of the three of us – from left to right: brother Jeremy, brother-in-law Troy and me, showing Weston the ropes after it was finished.)

But back to work – first we put one end of the beam up on top of the tower and one of us held it in place while the other two lifted the a-frame and set the 4×6 in place.  Once it was standing, I used galvanized framing brackets (which cost a couple dollars at your local harware store) to hold the 4×6 in place.

BracketThen I cut and added two 2x4s to help secure the 4×6 beam and laid a small piece of 2×2 on top to hold it all together.  All of these together hold at long beam in place so it stays nice and snug.

4x6 SupportNow we made sure the a-frame was plumb, then bolted it to the 4×6.  I also installed another small piece of 2×4 for some extra support.

A-Frame AttachedThen, just add your swings and other accessories using the holes you drilled and the hardware that comes with the swings.

Finished SwingsetI know, I know. It needs a roof (and indoor plumbing?) . We shopped around and finally found a great, affordable roof option which I haven’t installed yet. It also needs a quick coat of stain or sealer. There will be a part 3 to this series when I get the roof installed, and I’ll show you our little trick to make it even more toddler-friendly.

What do you think? Have you guys attempted any outdoor projects in the middle of summer? I’d love to hear about it!

UPDATE: We added the roof and made some upgrades to the tower! Check out Part 3 and Part 4!
Build your own wood swingset/playset for your kids! Complete diagrams and step-by-step pics!

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  1. Indoor plumbing. Yes. Every respectable treehouse needs a potty.

    Cute pic of Weston on the slide–he looks like he doesn’t quite know what to expect. 🙂 I’m sure he loves it now!

  2. Wow! I’m so impressed!
    I’ve had friends complain about how expensive the non DIY version is. You guys must have saved a ton of money (even if you decide to add the indoor plumbing…)

  3. Kelly-

    I’ve been fantasizing about a diy playset for us this summer, just have to stucco the back wall first, and this was SO super-duper helpful. I’m recruiting my husband and my dad to help me, so I think it is doable:)

    Can’t wait to see pics of Mila in the baby swing. Maybe by the end of summer?


  4. I’m really impressed with the mitered A-frame. What angle did you have to cut that? And, hows the roof/canopy coming? Can we expect an part 3 soon?

  5. Nice work. I’m in the middle of building something very similar for my 3 and 5 year old daughters. One difference is that I am building with a bunch of used deck lumber I found on Craigslist (I still had to buy some new lumber) and a slide I found the same way.

    My plan also calls for the swingset support to go all the way on the end and not to have a portion of 4×4 hanging on the other side. I’ll have 2 swings and a trapeze all lined up together.

    I’ve been snapping photos along the way, but I haven’t had a chance to write it up on my blog yet.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up. I enjoyed it.

  6. So I saw your blog and it is exactly what we have been wanting to do. In fact I have started with the “fort” and it is almost complete minus the roof. I need to run back to the lumber store for more wood. Your blog has been a great help with our progress. Now that I am working on the swing set part I am having trouble with the angles for the A-frame. Angles in wood working have always been my greatest downfall. Any way you can let me know the angles you used at the top where the 4x4s and 4×6 meet?


  7. I am just curious about that 4×6 end attached on the fort railing. It looks like it is mostly supported by the 2×4 railing and a 2×4 on either side going to the decking, because there is not actually a support in the midspan of that taking the load down to the ground(not that I see?) won’t that possibly warp that 2×4 railing, decking etc over time since the 2×4 is actually what is supporting the load of the swing beam and putting it down on a midpsan? It looks like over time that might not be sturdy. Not trying to critique, just curious how you are bringing that load down. Thanks!!

  8. What a beautiful swing set! Great job on putting it together! It turned out super cute. One day your kids will see how much work and love went into it.

  9. Hi,
    This is definitely one of my favorites and I am trying to build it in phases – not in two days!! Do you happen to have the A-frame cut angles ? at the top and bottom ?
    Thanks so much,

  10. looks great! Will the underside of the tower be a sandbox? Do you have to do anything special for it to be a sandbox?

  11. Thanks for the post. I got ideas from several blogs and plans (including yours) and am using them for my play set.

    Like others, I’m curious if you could provide details on how you figured out the angle for the cut on the A-frame 4x4s. I’m not so great with angles & lumber, so any info you could provide would be helpful!

  12. Plugging away on this build! Definitely not a 2 day project for us, but we’re getting there!!! I have the same question as several others here on that angle for the 4x4s. Can you share what settings the mitre needs to be on to get those main angles? I get cutting the notch with a hand or jig saw, but if I mess up those big ones I’m hosed on some expensive pieces of lumber! Waiting like a teenage girl on a Saturday night here…



  1. […] Update: You can check out part 2 of this post at this link. […]

  2. […] part of our playset tutorial. If you missed the first three parts, you can check them out here, here and here. Yes.Yes, I did build this playset just so I could talk about theorems and numbers and […]

  3. […] shelter. (On his playset.) We left off with our DIY playset tutorial – see part 1 and part 2 – unsure how we’d be creating a roof on the tower portion, with promises to complete […]

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