Design & DIY

Two unique ways to build a cottage swing

Dock swing

This article was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

Bob Davies, a cottager on Lake Talon, Ont., wanted to make a rope swing so his grandchildren could fly into the lake Tarzan-style. The only problem? “There were no trees hanging over the water,” he says. “So, I had to make one.” He already had the perfect instrument for the job: an old TV antenna. “I’m one of those people who puts stuff aside, thinking I might be able to do something with it later.” 

Davies welded three 11⁄2″ angle-iron legs to the base of the antenna, braced it with cables from an old boat hoist, then bolted it to his dock. The “limb” consists of a pivoting hollow aluminum tube with a steel snap hook that holds a tow rope. A cable from the end of the arm to the top of the tower carries the load like a jib. While the kids get the most use out of the swing, Davies says the “mothers and fathers have been coerced by their kids to give it a try.”

Meanwhile, on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Judy and Bob Stone carried on a local tradition when building a makeshift swing for their grandkids: they repurposed a buoy that had washed ashore. Buoy swings are a common sight on the island (thanks to plentiful old buoys and good marine rope); the Stones have six on their property alone. “Most of them have been made with rope and buoys that we found on the beach,” says Judy.

They pick a good, strong branch to sling the rope over and tie a knot to secure it. Then, they tie the other end to the buoy, and bam: buoy swings for the whole family. “We got a little nervous when our 200-pound son hopped on,” says Judy. “We kept a careful eye on that branch.”