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Picture of Arbor Arch With Dual Swings

In this Instructable, I will walk you through the process of building this Arbor Arch with Dual Swings. This project can be constructed over a couple of weekends by yourself. It would be easier with some extra hands but can totally be accomplished with just one person.

I guess you could call me a DIY-er. If I think I can learn to do something myself, I usually will make an attempt. Sometimes, two or three attempts before I will concede and hire a professional. I like getting to work with my hands, create, design and learn new skills. To me, there is something very satisfying and rewarding about learning to do something yourself. Even when sometimes, it means learning what not to do the hard way.

I would consider myself a hands-on / visual learner. I tried to take enough pictures that you can hopefully look at them and practically be able to build it without having to read/understand the written directions. It was certainly a challenge trying to take descent pictures while building it by myself. I tried to really break it down which means there are a lot of steps. Please don't let this overwhelm you. It was really pretty simple to build and didn't take all that long.

For full disclosure- I am simply a DIY and crafting enthusiast. I am not a builder and I don't work in any kind of construction. I am not an engineer or electrician, as such please build at your own risk. If you happen to have a good amount of knowledge and experience in this arena, reading this Instructable may be a slow painful torture for you or possibly a really good laugh. Can't say I didn't warn you.

I hope you find this Instructable useful and if you have any questions or advice, it is more than welcome.

Step 1: Determine Your Design

Picture of Determine Your Design
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I happen to love swings and saw these individual ones on Hayneedle. I went out to the deck and did a few quick measurements. I was like "yep, I can figure something out" and ordered two of them on the spot.

Once I have my mind set on something, I am a feet first all in kind of person. I started figuring out a rough draft of what I wanted and the supplies I thought I would need. I started building it the next weekend. I think it would be pretty simple to adapt these plans to fit your space and needs. Perhaps you don't need the middle arch and want to hang a third swing or you want to extend it further out and have full sized bench swings. You may not have the ability or desire to add electrical lights and want it plain. Perhaps you would rather install solar lights or a chandelier in the archway. Once you see the basic construction, the possibilities are really pretty endless. I had a basic idea of what I was going for and then just made it up as I went.

Helpful Hints:

When figuring out your design and dimensions, you will want to consider the size of lumber you can purchase to try and minimize both waste and cost.

Cherzer26 days ago
What a wonderful addition to your gorgeous yard! And what a clever idea to add lights to the arch!
Can you tell me how much weight the swings hold? (Sorry, if you already mentioned this and I missed it.)
HeartCrafting (author)  Cherzer26 days ago
According to the manufacture, each swing has a weight limit of 400 pounds. Honestly, I was a little surprised it was rated for that amount since it seems most things top around 300-350. I haven't tested it at 400 pounds but it has held a solid 300 with two people swing on one of them the other day. Thanks for the inquiry.
That is solid! I also find it really inspiring that you were able to do this all yourself. I guess I need to get some of those clamps so I have extra hands too.
HeartCrafting (author)  Cherzer26 days ago
Thank you! They really are handy. Not going to lie though, it would have been way easier having an extra set of hands that also have legs attached to them. I cant tell you how many times I had to crawl out from under the house because I forgot something or up and down the ladder due to dropping things.
Fantastic job on this!

For your next project demanding a ladder, consider adding important tools to a pail/bucket or bag and just use an S hook to pop it onto the top bracing rung. Alternatively, consider building a ladder caddy.
HeartCrafting (author)  lolamatic16 days ago
Great idea! I am liking the sound of a ladder caddy!
Forgot to ask:
This may be a dumb question but do you know if the lights for this can be put on a dimmer switch and where I can purchase them?

Did you use any kind of stain or protective coat?
Not a dumb question at all. Yes, you can install a dimmer switch with the lights. You will want to make sure that the bulbs you use are compatible with dimmers. I actually pulled out the original switch I installed and changed it for a dimmer about a week after finishing the project. I attached a picture. There are lots of different styles of dimmer switches to choose from.

I plan on using boiled linseed oil. I am just waiting a couple months for it to wear just a little so that it will really soak it in. If you use cedar and plan on painting any of it you will want to get the right products and follow specific steps to keep the tennin from staining through your paint. I believe I got some products at Sherwin-Williams once when I was painting over cedar. I got my boiled linseed oil at Home Depot. It should be less than $10. You will want to carefully read the warnings. You need to dispose of the rags carefully as it is combustible.

If you hit any hiccups feel free to ask :-)
Amazing! I am so in love with this! My husband and I have been remodeling our patio and I would be a happy wife if we can add this in that space. I have always loved swings and rocking chairs. I know just where I want it. Now I just have to get my husband to build it. Might be able to convince him by saying our grandson needs it. Thank you for sharing your project.
Thank you so much! I love rocking chairs I think just as much as swings. Building a rocking chair was my senior wood shop project. Sadly, I was a little over ambitious and had a very difficult one to build with many ordinate spindled details and didn't get if finished by the end of the class. I should probably finish that. My nephew is 7 years old and loves. If he is like my nephew, I am sure he would enjoy helping grandpa build it. wink wink. Good luck and hope you enjoy the new patio.
Starkey041724 days ago
One of the most thorough instructables I've seen. Absolutely awesome. What was your final cost on this?
HeartCrafting (author)  Starkey041724 days ago
If I am being honest, I was trying to avoid tallying the cost. My original plan which was just the front of it with swings (just 4 posts and the arbor style build no lights no archway decor or back posts) was under $600.00.

I just went through the list and added it all up. If you were to go online and order via the links provided it totals $1,280.33.

$240 for the lights and electrical
$70 for screws and drill bits
$970 for the main structure

About $250 or the $970 was for the decorative center (balusters, shelf brackets, shoes, knuckles and paint) So you could save some money there.
You could also save $43.80 by not using the 10" concrete form tubes.
Hope this is helpful.

I've downplayed a few of my project's cost to my wife a few times.
HeartCrafting (author)  Starkey041722 days ago
I have been divorced about a year now so I was only trying to hide if from myself LOL
hherzog24 days ago
Instead of mixing your concrete in the hope it will be liquidy enough to work with, you can add in plasticizers to keep it liquid while working without affecting cure time and overall density. You can buy a small packet per bag of concrete, or get a jug and measure it in based on your needs/size of your job. Takes out the guess work ;)
HeartCrafting (author)  hherzog24 days ago
I haven't done a whole lot with concrete before. That is super useful to know. Thank you for taking the time to share that.
No problem. I picked up the trick when building a lighted concrete table top, worked a charm (after I destroyed a mixer trying to just work with the max water mix, lol).
HeartCrafting (author)  hherzog22 days ago
A lighted concrete table sounds cool!
I meant to post an instructable on it but forgot to take pics of a couple steps so it's going to have to wait until the next one :(
hherzog hherzog22 days ago
Here's a photo of the dry fit though, just to give you a teaser.
HeartCrafting (author)  hherzog22 days ago
That looks great! I think the stone concrete cement contest is still open for awhile. You should consider entering it if you have the time!
lorenkinzel24 days ago
Very nice design, but why would you call it an "arch"?
HeartCrafting (author)  lorenkinzel23 days ago
Never really gave its name that much technical thought I suppose. I mean technically speaking, per definitions, you are correct. The top would need to be curved to qualify as an arch. So why did I call in an arbor arch? In my mind, which I see now is not correct, when I think of an arbor...I think of something flat or less dimentional with wooden cross boards/bars (like the first two pictures) When I think of an arch, I think of something more dimensional or with more depth then an Arbor like the last two pictures. Not sure if I am explaining that very well but that was my thought behind it and why I called it an arbor arch. In my brain it was a mix of those two things.
ssa-ed24 days ago
IMO, having the vertical posts so close to the swings is an accident waiting to happen.
HeartCrafting (author)  ssa-ed24 days ago
Yes, I see your point. If you really want to get swinging it would be best to space the posts further apart. I wasn't really planing on swinging like that, more like a rock or sway. My nephew who is 7, gets it going crazy every once in awhile and intentionally tries getting it diagonal. He is the only one that really actually "swings" in it.
klixtopher24 days ago
Carriage bolts can be annoying, and putting a washer behind the carriage bolt is a creative idea to provide access to tighten things up. Unfortunately this limits the correct surface of the bolt head, which means that it not only loses a lot of it's "tortional" strength (important for a swing), but it also has far less friction and is more likely to come loose. A better idea might be too use a hex head bolt and washer.
HeartCrafting (author)  klixtopher24 days ago
Thank you so much. That is really good to know. Guess I will be adding them to my home maintenance checklist to periodically check for tightness.
klixtopher24 days ago
Beautiful design, you certainly have a creative eye! Looks amazing. Thank you for sharing such a detailed instructable.
HeartCrafting (author)  klixtopher24 days ago
Thank you!
smcmasters124 days ago
Just incredible! Your Arbor is beautiful, and your instructions are so thorough. Thank you for sharing and putting the extra time in to document the process. My wifand i are starting the journey of buying our first home, and this is really inspiring.
Also- I wanted to add on, how inspiring it is to see what can be accomplished by yourself. Rough estimate, how long did it take you to complete the build- excluding the electrical? I would guess the most taxing part of this was digging your post holes. I am about to build a carport, for my father (he just had back surgery), that has to be able to support an entire Solar Power grid- which will be professionally installed. I'm dreading digging the post holes.
HeartCrafting (author)  smcmasters124 days ago
I would allow 3 weekends. It wont take the whole weekends though. Spacing it out is really more just to allow your concrete to cure between working on it. If you are really good at measuring and leveling your posts, you could install all 6 of them the first weekend. It would alter the directions just a tiny bit. It should only take a couple hours to dig the holes (assuming you don't have super rocky soil) and get the posts level and set. The next day if you wanted, you could take all the measurements between your various posts and start cutting all the arbor and cross boards. Those can all be cut easily in a day with time to spare. The next weekend you can do all the installing.
My first 4 holes went surprising fast for me. They were they easiest holes I think I have ever dug. I had really been dreading that part too. Awe, and then came the back to holes....not so easy. There were some many roots and a few rocks.
You can rent post hole augers to make holes for you. I can't say I have ever had much success with the hand held ones. My dad had one that went on the back of his tractor and it was great.
Good luck with the holes for the carport. Wishing you dad a speedy recovery.
HeartCrafting (author)  smcmasters124 days ago
Thank you so much. I had a great time building it! Congratulations on starting your journey to home ownership!