How To Build A Tire Swing

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A tire swing hanging from a large tree is a tradition that is as American as hot dogs and apple pie. Your own tire swing can provide years of entertainment and fun for kids and adults too. All that is required is a mature tree with a sturdy limb or branch about 10 feet above the ground. The branch should be long enough to provide a minimum of 30-inches of clearance between the swing and the trunk and support a load of at least 400 lbs. for multiple kids and the occasional adult. An ideal tree would be an oak or maple. Most tire swings today are built with a horizontal tire, which allows several kids to use the swing at the same time. This also has the added benefit of providing a nearly flat and stable surface for the kids to sit on. Here’s how to get started assembling a tire swing.

Materials & Tools Needed

1 used tire 3 eyebolts ½-inch by 2-inches long 6 nuts 12 fender washers 6 lock washers 6 s-hooks or connector links 1 larger s-hook 1 eyebolt ½-inch by 10 inches long 1 swivel connector 4 lengths of welded chain 1 ½-inch bell installer drill bit Hand tools: drill motor, large vise grips, crescent wrench, and screwdriver

Choosing The Right Tire For A Swing

This is a project where bigger is definitely not better. A used automobile tire will work well if it is free of steel belt damage. Check the tire inside and outside for any sharp objects that may have damaged the tire. Tire stores are a good source for used tires and the ones in their recycle pile are usually quite inexpensive. Once the tire is chosen, clean it thoroughly inside and out using a strong detergent with bleach to remove the old rubber and road debris. To prepare the tire for the swing, drill 6 or 8 ½-inch holes equally spaced around the tire centered on the flattest part of the bottom sidewall for water drainage during rainstorms. Next drill three ½-inch holes, also equally spaced around the top sidewall to attach the swing’s chains and hardware. These holes should be as close to 120 degrees from each other as you can make them. A good trick for this is to count the tire lugs or tread and divide by 3.

Through each of the top 3 holes, insert an eyebolt, fender washer, lock washer, and machine nut. Double up on the fender washers, lock washers and nuts. There should be a fender washer, lock washer, and machine nut on each side of the sidewall to hold everything in place.

how to build a tire swing how to build a tire swing

Tire Swing Rope Vs. Chain

While rope is easier to cut and attach to the tire, galvanized chain will last much longer outside throughout the seasons. It won’t rot or fray during the years. Select a good quality chain with a load handling capability of at least 400 pounds for safety.

How To Assemble A Tire Swing

Cut three lengths of chain, at least 5 feet long, and attach these to the three eyebolts using s-hooks or connector links. If using s-hooks, squeeze the hooks closed with a large pair of vise grips to permanently affix them to the eyebolts and then the chain. Slowly close the hooks by starting with the vise grip’s widest hinge point, squeezing the hook, then move the next hinge point, and so on until the hook is completely closed. Attach all three lengths of chain to the larger s-hook, and attach that hook to a length of chain reaching up to the tree limb. Cut the chain to a length that keeps the tire swing about 30-inches off the ground.

Drill a ½-inch hole through the tree limb and insert the long eyebolt through the limb with the eye on bottom. If the limb is 6-inches or thicker, use a ½-inch bell installer’s drill bit. These are 12 to 16-inches long and will reach through most limbs. The eyebolt should have fender washers top and bottom, with a locking washer and nut at the top. Attach the and close the fourth s-hook to the tree limb by adding a swivel connector to the eyebolt, and the swing is complete.

Selecting The Hardware

When choosing hardware for the tire swing, use steel hardware grade 5 or higher in hardness and designed for lifting. The chain and hardware should be galvanized or zinc plated to prevent rust outdoors. Assume that the swing will need to support 400 pounds with several kids, or a combination of kids and adults.

Last Updated: April 22, 2012
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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