Terrific Tire Swing

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Terrific Tire Swing
Total Time 2 to 3 hours Ages all-ages

An old tire, some rope or chain, a tall tree -- could anything be simpler? The backyard tire swing has been entertaining kids pretty much since backyards were invented. Here's how to set one up right.

What you'll need

  • Used beltless light truck tire or old tractor tire
  • Drill, 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch bits
  • Healthy hardwood tree
  • 3/16-inch playground chain
  • 2 (12-inch) drop-forged eyebolt, washers, and nuts
  • 2 (14-inch) quick links
  • Mulch or wood chips
Variations:

If you don't have a large enough tree, you can retrofit a wooden swing set for either a vertical or a horizontal tire swing.

How to make it

  1. If possible, find a used beltless light truck tire or old tractor tire (try a junkyard or tire store). Avoid steel-belted tires, whose sharp cords might eventually work their way out of the rubber sheathing.

  2. Drill holes in the bottom of the tire so rainwater can drain.

  3. Choose a healthy hardwood tree such as oak, walnut, sugar maple, ash, or cherry. (Beech, while strong, has delicate roots that resent trampling.) Make sure the branch is straight, forming an L-shape, not a V, against the trunk, and strong -- at least 8 inches in diameter where you attach the swing. It should be 9 to 12 feet off the ground (the higher the branch, the farther you'll swing).

  4. The best way to suspend the tire (for both the swinger and the tree) is with a length of 3/16-inch playground chain. Drill a 12-inch hole through the center of the branch, then insert a 12-inch drop-forged eyebolt through the hole, securing it on top with a washer and two nuts. (If you use rope, choose nylon or Dacron. Polypropylene and hemp don't weather well, and polypropylene can also slip too easily through small hands.)

  5. Drill a 12-inch hole through the top of the tire. Thread a nut, washer, and 3-inch fender washer on another 12-inch eyebolt, slip it through the tire, and thread on another fender washer, washer, and nut. Secure the chain to the two eyebolts with 14-inch quick links.

  6. Spread a circle of mulch or wood chips around the trunk to protect tree roots and cushion falls.

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