A Big Move and a Small Swing

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Blog entry by Philip posted 07-21-2012 06:17 PM 5757 reads 2 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So! A lot has happened recently and I am just now able to share the updates. We moved from California to San Antonio, Texas on May 28th, and what a change! I moved for a job promotion and other than coming down with a wicked stomach flu the first week I was at work (and wanting to run the other direction for a day or two) things have gone really well.

At my last job I had a variety of woodworking equipment right outside my office (blessing and a curse) and there was plenty of space to store all my salvaged wood piles. We lived in a one bedroom apartment, not conducive to raising a hyper baby boy or woodworking. In the picture you can see all my tools and wood piled onto the patio- the movers did not like dealing with that…

Needless to say Texas is a lot more affordable than California. Here we are renting a small house that has a 2 car garage, which means shop! This is great for me since I now don’t have to go to work on Saturday for an hour to get some woodworking in- I can just step into the garage. I don’t have a bandsaw, tablesaw or drill press, but we’ll get by with hand-tools.

I have built some saw-horses and laid my piece of reclaimed butcher block to make a bench. I will ask for workbench advice soon…The best part of this is when we are sitting on the couch a couple weeks ago and my wife says- why don’t you make a swing for Daniel? Say no more! we are off to Lowe’s…after looking at a couple Lumberjock swings.

Of course Daniel falls asleep in the store, he was not as interested as I was in getting sandpaper and eye-bolts.
I used some lumber that my wife’s grandfather used as bed slats since that is what I had on hand. This is where we start, marking the width of the slats and cutting them out with the jig saw (first tool I bought when we got here, a fathers day gift to me ;-)

Next we cut them to rough length with the bench hooks I made (first bench accessory after putting together the bench)

This is where things get interesting. My Lowe’s bill was 60 bucks! Holy cow, that is a lot for some 80 grit, 220 grit, jig saw blades, eye-bolts and rope for a swing. I thought I would cut the pieces extra carefully with the jig saw using …a jig! When the cuts got rough I figured I would change blades, then sand. After starting I realized that was a bad idea, so I cut them and smoothed the edges with a jack plane.

Then we square up one side using the bench hook as a make shift shooting board.

About this time I am realizing that I don’t want to spend 3 hours sanding something that will be an outdoor swing out in the elements. The Roy Underhill on my shoulder slaps the backside of my head and tells me to get out the smoothing plane and make some shavings…the obsession begins. Needless to say we returned half the supplies we had bought.

We smooth the stock and chamfer the edges with a block plane, leaving the underside unfinished. The photo shows the progression- far left, underside unfinished, top side in the middle, and the top side planed and chamfered far right.

Next step is to cut the angle for the back-rest and rip it in half. By the way, the Bear saw is the best saw I have ever used- haven’t used that many but still! I am converted to Japanese saws.

Skipping ahead to more interesting parts…the first test fit.

Fits good. Now let’s put the eye bolts on and attach some arms.

This is the finished product, and a pile of shavings.

The kid loves it and there is nothing like a swing to put him in a trance for like 15 glorious minutes. I have to say, having a yard and garage is nice. A word of warning to novice swing builders like myself- test your swing with something other than your kid first! I put him in and he started to tip forward, had to re-adjust some knots.

Thanks to all the LJ friends, couldn’t do this stuff without some inspiration- would have been a tire with a rope swing.

-- I never finish anyth

11 comments so far

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3093 days

#1 posted 07-21-2012 08:51 PM

Great job and great story.
What efforts we go thru for family love.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2851 days

#2 posted 07-21-2012 09:06 PM

Awe! The wee man is great

You are going to have some great

projects together very soon. :)


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View QuickWay's profile


77 posts in 2576 days

#3 posted 07-21-2012 09:18 PM

A big Texas welcome to San Antonio. There are some great places here for family fun. The guys at Woodcraft are great. Your swing looks like a winner. Well done!

-- Bill Native Texan

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2533 days

#4 posted 07-21-2012 09:40 PM

Thanks everyone. It was a lot of fun. Bill you will have to tell me where to find the good stuff.

-- I never finish anyth

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 2218 days

#5 posted 07-21-2012 10:07 PM

It IS a great story! And what a fantastic project to break in your new shop.

In the text you say that “we” did this next – did you have Daniel help you make the swing? Or was he simply the testing and quality control tech?

If you have not yet done so, print these shots out and give them to your wife to put in Daniel’s scrapbook. They will bring you all pleasure in the years to come.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 2201 days

#6 posted 07-22-2012 09:32 AM


This is awesome! Great work! I love that swing! Brilliant idea!


-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3328 days

#7 posted 07-22-2012 10:16 AM

Well done and fun blog!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2185 days

#8 posted 07-22-2012 12:24 PM


-- My terrible signature...

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2533 days

#9 posted 07-22-2012 12:40 PM

Daniel provides quality control. He also loves to take the broom and spread the sawdust around.

-- I never finish anyth

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3083 days

#10 posted 07-24-2012 10:28 AM

Love the joint venture.
What a lovely kid, a true wood worker to come.
What a geat father.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View KOVA's profile


1363 posts in 2373 days

#11 posted 07-25-2012 05:04 AM



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