How To Make A Tire Swing

You may remember that Sean wrapped up a tire for my birthday a few months ago with the promise to build me a tire swing. And it turns out he's a man who's true to his word!

Go on, add your swingers joke right here. Just try not to. 

You know when you were younger and you thought being a grownup would just be one long endless stretch of ice cream for breakfast and staying up til 2am and having a tire swing to play on whenever you wanted?

Turns out it kind of is. 

Sean assured me that this tire swing wasn't particularly difficult to make, and that anyone with a tree, a bit of patience, and some power tools could make one too. I told him that if he really felt that way, he should just pop in here and write a tutorial on how to do it. "Huh," he said. "Okay, I will."

So here it is. 


Sean Slinsky's Official Guide To Making A Really Swingy Tire Swing That Will Thoroughly Delight Someone In Your Life

1. First of all, you're going to want to collect all your materials. You will need:

  • 4 eyebolts
  • 8 washers (1/2 inch each)
  • 1 wire eye lag
  • 2 "S" hooks
  • 8 feet of chain
  • 1 swivel attachment
  • 64 feet of rope (I actually ended up using the natural rope you see above, not the white one in the picture below)

I got everything from Home Depot apart from the tire, which I picked up at a tire shop. I went in expecting to pay for it, but they gave it to me for free because it was an old one they had lying around. It's definitely worth asking! 

2. Next, figure out where you want to place the eyebolts. I knew the ropes needed to be far enough off the front of the tire to allow for someone to sit in between them, but far enough off the center to provice adequate support. In the end, I decided to mentally divide the tire up into sixteenths and place the eybolts at 3/16, 5/16, 11/16, and 13/16. Here's a picture that'll hopefully make that make more sense. 

3. Once you've worked that out, you want to measure the circumference of your tire. I did this by wrapping a string around the perimeter and cutting it where the ends met, which gave me an easy linear object to measure and mark.

4. Then take your string and make marks at the desired points (3/16, 5/16, 11/16, and 13/16,) wrap it back around the tire, and mark the points where you should drill with chalk.

5. Once you have all the points marked on the tire, start drilling into it. I used a 1/2 inch drill bit. And yep, drilling into rubber smells just as bad as you’d imagine.

5. Next, screw in the eyebolts. I put a washer on each side, to prevent the bolts from wiggling around too much in the rubber. Otherwise, they’ll probably loosen themselves over time.

6. Next, it’s time start tying everything together! I figured the point at which the ropes connected to the swivel should be at least 4 feet from the tire itself—otherwise, it would feel pretty cramped. So I placed the tire on top of a Rubbermaid container and attached the swivel to a point about 4 feet above the top of the tire. I learned the hard way that it’s a pretty good idea not to try and attach the ropes to the tire and suspend it at the same time, which is why I ended up setting it atop the container.

7. Okay, let’s tie some knots! I bought 64 feet of rope, which I had cut to four lengths of 16 feet each. (I knew I needed a little more than 4 feet for the distance from the bolt to the swivel, so I multiplied that by two because the rope would be doubled up, and then added a little extra to accommodate for knots and wrapping the excess around.)

To tie this up, I threaded the rope into the eyebolt, then up through the swivel connection, then tied a slip knot with the short end.  The slip knot made it really easy to make sure the rope was reasonably tight—and even easier to line up the tops of all the knots as tied each subsequent leg.

Once you have the rope tight and the tops aligned, just begin wrapping the excess around—like a....uh, well I guess a noose? (Hmm, I wish there was a better analogy.) As you’re nearing the end, tighten it up with two half-hitches to keep everything together.

8. Once that’s done, it’s time to prepare to hang this thing! Hopefully you already know where you’re going to put your swing and you’ve made sure that the tree limb is strong enough (I did this by jumping up and swinging on the branch as hard as I could, which is not the most scientific method, although it did the job.)

At the point where you’re going to attach the swing to the tree, drill a ⅜ inch starter hole (this makes it a lot easier to screw in the wire eye.) Then screw in the wire eye, and attach your chain with an S-hook.

9. After that, all you need to do is just attach your swivel to the other end of the chain with another S-hook, and there you go.

10. The last step? Take it for a spin!

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them in the comments. 

Pretzel Thief
May 09, 2012

You guys kick major ass.

And that is one fiiiiine looking tire swing...I mean, just LOOK at it! Glad Sean made you such a cool, joy-inducing swing.

(Suddenly the word "swing" is starting to look all weird.)

Christine H
May 09, 2012

Love the swing! But don't you mean feet, not inches, of rope?

May 09, 2012

Wow. This is so, so awesome. What a great birthday present!

Anna Louisa
May 09, 2012

I love this! And the natural-looking rope was a great choice :)

Alison Presley
May 09, 2012

I love this!! May you spend many a happy afternoon swinging on your tire swing.

Also, may you soon have a party so that I might try it out.

May 09, 2012

You win the Best Husband award. Now, if I only had a tree...

May 09, 2012

Please do not be alarmed when you return home to find me in your backyard with a pitcher of lemonade, swinging away on your tire swing. Ok, you probably should be alarmed since you don't know me. But let's just say I'm very, very jealous of your tire swing.

Nothing But Bonfires
May 09, 2012

Ha, Christine, good catch! That would have been a teeny-tiny tire swing! I've changed it to feet. Thank you for pointing it out!

Helen Jane
May 09, 2012

We will be using these instructions. I'm thinking this is for either Mother's Day present or my birthday. Thank you. Thank you.

May 09, 2012

Love this! Very envious. :-)

May 09, 2012

Nice! Awesome! Makes me think of all the fun on a friends backyard tire swing while growing up... good memories.

Which actually reminds me: did you drill some holes in the bottom so that rainwater will drain out? Because if you don't, you will A: get lots of mosquitoes in there in the summer and B: get your shorts really wet the next time you try to swing in it after a rain, even a week after. It takes forever for the water to evaporate out of there, and meanwhile the mosquitoes have moved in.
Our city recently started fining people for tires left outside, because they are apparently one of the best breeding grounds for those blood suckers. But a few drill holes would solve the issue!

Happy swinging!

May 09, 2012

Love. I just emailed this post to Matthew.

May 09, 2012

Oooh, EBH, that is a really great idea -- hadn't even thought of it! Genius.

May 09, 2012

That is seriously the prettiest tire swing I've ever seen. I mean, I didn't think tire swings could even look pretty but, that is one gorgeous tire swing!!

May 09, 2012

Well done, Sean! I second the nomination for "Best Husband" award -- a totally awesome birthday present, and a really excellent tutorial :-)

One question, though...Would you please discuss your decision to suspend it from just an eye-hook screwed into the bottom of the tree branch (which seems, over time, to be somewhat likely to pull out leaving the swinger-of-the-moment, uhm, bottomed out) as opposed to wrapping a couple of lengths of the rope around the branch for better security?

Neither Physics nor DIY construction projects are my strong suit, so I'm guessing there's a good answer to this -- just curious, and in need of further education before trying to duplicate the concept.

Hugs to you both, from Cupertino!

May 09, 2012

That is so sweet of him. I just told my husband and he looked at me with a blank look. I don't think I'm getting a tire swing.

May 10, 2012

Very romantic. I love it when spouses know enough about you to do something so quirky that no one else would know would sweep you off your feet.... bravo!

May 10, 2012

This is gorgeous! Completely different from the tire swing of my youth though - mine was arranged with the tire vertical, not horizontal, so I could either sit atop it (astride the rope) or swing standing up, with my feet inside the tire. I will have to try this way out!

May 11, 2012

I love this idea as a "Welcome summer" present for the day after the last day of school surprise. I'm on it!

May 14, 2012

wow, i always thought tire swings hurt my butt but this sure is good for my eyes!

May 14, 2012

I wish I had a tree suitable for a tyre swing! It looks awesome.

May 17, 2012

Sean Slinky's Swing! I like the sound of that. Hehe.

Camels & Chocolate
May 22, 2012

I just sent this link to Scott in hopes that our new house will come equipped with one of these bad boys.

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Emily G
Apr 12, 2013

Thank you for posting this. I have to make an adaptive toy for my class as an occupational therapist assistant student. I plan to some how attach a back support and seat belt and possibly a foot rest. If you have any ideas on this I would be glad and appreciate hearing them. Thanks again! (If you would like to help, please just email me any ideas and put tire swing as the subject)

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