Build a porch swing

How to make this fine addition to any porch or deck

By Cottage LifeCottage Life


Photo by Roger Yip

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Sometimes, you just happen upon a good idea. This was the case during the 2002 Lake Wahwashkesh Poker Run. Our group was boating from location to location collecting our cards (they turned out to be a losing hand, by the way). These events are great because you get to visit different places on the lake, meet new people or get reacquainted with old friends, and generally have a good time. We had stopped at the Summersides’ place in Shanty Bay, and were enjoying a bit of a gab. Naturally, someone in the boat—that’d be me—needed a pee-break. On the way up from the dock, I passed a suspended swing that Jim Summerside had built. It just so happened that the folks at Cottage Life had suggested a porch swing for my next project. I had looked at a number of designs and found all of them rather complicated, but I was immediately impressed with the simple structural design of Jim’s swing. Aha!, I said to myself, this is it! All it needs is a bit of prettying up.

Here are some general tips for building a porch swing for your cottage. To see complete plans for the Cottage Life swing, see the June 2003 issue.

Project tool box

  • circular saw (and, ideally a radial saw)
  • router
  • drill
  • jigsaw
  • sander
  • clamps
  • socket set
  • tape measure
  • paint brush

Hardware list

  • carriage bolts, nuts, and washers
  • eyebolts and nuts (for backrest)
  • washers
  • eyebolts and nuts (for seat)
  • washers
  • wood screws
  • plated deck screws
  • chain (galvanized for outdoors
  • heavy-duty ceiling hooks
  • quick-links
  • outdoor or regular carpenter‘s glue

Selecting your saw

A radial arm saw is the ideal tool for cutting half-lap joints like the ones that connect the backrests to the seat frames in our porch swing project. If you don’t have one, you can use a router and jig. Alternatively, a circular saw and a chisel will do the job. Make several passes with the saw, and then carefully remove the waste with a sharp chisel. The circular saw method is quicker, but a router will produce cleaner results.

This article was originally published on June 3, 2003

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