Building a Swing Set with Cedar Logs
Making a wooden swing set is a nice way to add charm to your back yard, as well as building an area for your family's enjoyment. While there are several wooden materials to choose from, nothing is quite as lovely and rustic as a cedar log swing set. With a little help and effort, this job will be a success.
Step 1 - Selecting the Logs
You can get cedar logs from some lumber yards and most saw mills pre-cut and often with the bark removed. There are only a few criteria necessary for selecting logs, which are often already done at the saw mill. First, look for straight logs. Secondly, you want logs that are similar in diameter along its entire length as well as similar diameter to the other logs in your purchase or collection. Finally, look for any holes or decay. Holes can be signs of pests and both holes and decay will severely diminish the strength of the lumber.
Step 2 - Select the location and dig the holes
The best site for your swing is an area that is level and clear from any trees or shrubs. You'll want to dig at least 2 feet down and make the hole at least twice the size of the log so that you can have ample amount of concrete surrounding your log. Make sure that your holes are the length of your cross beam apart.
Step 3 - Cutting the Notches
While you can just lay the cross beam on top of your uprights and nail large spikes to form a butt joint; real strength will be achieved with a through tenon and mortise. This joint has a notch cut in one end and a groove to receive it. Cutting it on the ground will make it much easier to handle and fit before you place the uprights in the holes. First cut your tenon, to cut it you will leave only the center 2 - 3" (depending on the size of the log) and it will be cut as deep as the cross beam is tall. It is easier to cut this in a log using a chain saw but a circular saw will do. Cut down the log as straight as you can to ensure a nice tight fit with mortise. The mortise is the exact opposite of the tenon where the notch is cut out to leave a groove that will receive the tenon. Here you will cut out the center 2-3" straight down as deep as your tenon is wide. Before setting the uprights dry fit your cuts to make sure they fit together smoothly.
Step 4 - Setting the uprights
Place the uprights in your dug holes and fill with concrete. You will need to brace the uprights level and square until the concrete has set.
Step 5 - Setting the cross beam and attaching the swings
This will require an extra set of hands to get this in place. With a ladder on each upright work the cross beam up and onto the uprights and set your mortise and tenon joints together. Once it is set drill holes through the joint and install carriage bolts to lock them together, two per joint will suffice. Finally follow the manufacturer's recommendations to attach the swings and enjoy.