Swing set / play set advice needed

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Forum topic by JCamp posted 03-10-2018 08:26 PM 283 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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540 posts in 487 days

03-10-2018 08:26 PM

My wife is wanting a swing set and play set for our kids this summer. I was fine with the idea …... then came the sticker shock. Nice wood ones can run from $1000 and on up (I’ve literally seen some huge ones the same price as a small home). I’m a normal guy so to me that’s a lot of cash for what is basically a toy…. I’ve looked them over and to me the play set seems pretty basic. Probably gonna do mayb a 6×6 platform built about 5 foot off the ground Plan is for railing all around the top and mayb a roof. My question is for the swing set. My thoughts are 4×4 for the legs and the top “beam” would b 2 2×8s (that shouldn’t warp or bow under weight). What’s got me kind of stumped is what angle do I cut the posts to fit in the top beam…. or does someone sell metal brackets for that.
Also any other considerations that I should b taking into account?

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

16 replies so far

View jonah's profile


1632 posts in 3235 days

#1 posted 03-10-2018 08:33 PM

Honestly, I’d look on Craigslist before I’d build one from scratch. I got mine for free off a guy on CL who had kids that were too old for it. He even helped me take it apart.

View Lazyman's profile


1820 posts in 1323 days

#2 posted 03-10-2018 09:02 PM

Definitely don’t pay a bunch of money for one. You didn’t say how old your kids are about 11, they will likely use almost not at all. I bought one like this from Toys R Us when they were about 3 & 5 (20+ years ago) and it lasted until the youngest was about 16 before I tore it down. It had everything they needed and didn’t break the bank. Unless you just really like the idea of building it yourself, this is a pretty good option. By the time you buy the lumber, hardware, swings and such, I bet you’ll be over halfway to the cost of this one.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View JCamp's profile


540 posts in 487 days

#3 posted 03-10-2018 09:46 PM

My kids r 2 and have enjoyed playing on them in the past. I’m not wanting to sink a bunch of money into one but we already hav 5 swings from an old play set that we didn’t bring with us from our old house. I hav a good amount of used treated lumber from a couple of decks I’ve taken apart so that part would b nearly free.
I had the same idea of looking on Craigslist but even old junky stuff in my area is still at least several hundred dollars

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View Kazooman's profile


972 posts in 1888 days

#4 posted 03-10-2018 09:50 PM

How about a tree, a length of rope, and an old tire?

View JCamp's profile


540 posts in 487 days

#5 posted 03-10-2018 10:13 PM

Kazooman. That’s what I grew up with. No trees in that section of the yard tho. I could plant one but by the time it got big enough for that they b moved off. Mayb I should plant one for my someday grandkids

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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Jim Finn

2641 posts in 2858 days

#6 posted 03-10-2018 10:21 PM

I once built one for a neighbor. I just found a hardware kit and purchased the treated fir separately. I do not remember the cost because I did not pay for all this myself. A search for kits should give you some ideas.

-- No PHD, but I have a GED and my DD 214

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972 posts in 1888 days

#7 posted 03-10-2018 10:25 PM

You posted while I was typing my comment. If you have the reclaimed pressure treated lumber from an old deck I say go for it. As far as how to figure the angles for the legs, I wouldn’t over think it. You could lay the legs out on the ground at whatever angle looks good and then use a short piece made to mock-up the cross beam to draw out the cut lines for notches at the top. No math involved. If you are going to use the traditional angled legs, just be certain that they are firmly anchored in the ground.

View JCamp's profile


540 posts in 487 days

#8 posted 03-11-2018 12:18 AM

I never had considered anchoring it down. That’s a good idea. Might save a trip to the ER

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View Kelster58's profile


532 posts in 476 days

#9 posted 03-11-2018 12:34 AM

I built a swing set for my daughter and nephews. I got all my hardware new from this site and others on line. Be sure to check the hardware every Spring and fall to be sure it is not coming loose or wearing excessively. I also rounded over all the edges of wood posts with my router and sanded the thing with my random orbit sander every six months so my kids didn’t get splinters. Swing set anchors are available on line too. We built quite a set up and never had any serious injuries. It’s all fun until a bolt come loose some youngster gets hurt. Good luck with it…....

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

View BFamous's profile


68 posts in 57 days

#10 posted 03-11-2018 01:32 AM

I just recycled one for a neighbor down the street who had recycled it from someone else 8 years ago… The thing has to be close to 15 years old and is still in good condition. I’m not certain if I want to know what they put in the wood to make it last so long back then…

Anyway, I was going to build my own until I saw the sticker shock of the slide, swings, etc… A “regular” slide is going to cost you like 150 itself. Nicer ones are even more expensive than that. Then you have the cost of all of the other materials, wood, bolts, chains, swings, etc… You’ll easily be in for well over $500 before you even get too fancy.

That’s why I went the recycled route. I actually wound up with a second slide from another neighbor and have a lead on a second tower (if I get energetic enough to go get it). People will literally pay you just for taking them out of their backyard for them (particularly the same people that had enough money 10 years ago to spend $5k+ on one of these). Start by finding one you can get for free just for the hardware and stuff. Then add onto it as you see fit.

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC ::

View clin's profile


817 posts in 932 days

#11 posted 03-11-2018 04:53 AM

Built one 25+ years ago. As I recall, there were several kits offered by the lumberyard. The hardware and accessories (like specialized brackets, a slide and swings) was supplied by the kit manufacturer. Each kit had a list of the wood needed. The kit included instructions for all the cuts and assembly. Worked out very well. And yes, if the play structure is large enough, a lot of wood can go into it, and it adds up to real money.

Ours had a platform about 6’ square that was about 4-5 feet off the ground. I sort of pup tent type cover on it. Sandbox underneath with a slide down from the platform. I think think there was also a rope ladder off one corner, and maybe just a knotted rope of the other. There was a separate large swing set. I know the swing set was anchored. I think the platform was large and heavy enough it didn’t need any anchors.

I would argue that it is more than just a toy, though certainly it is for play. But it is something you’ll get 7-8 years out of for one child, and more for if you have more kids. And it’s something to get the kids off the sofa and outside playing.

And possibly you could sell it once the kids outgrow it. Though being wood, you’ll need to take good care of it to have any value after many years.

You could also go old school and build a play house. My mom recently visited the town she grew up in and introduced herself to the family living in the house she grew up in. Their little girl was using the play house my mom’s uncle made for her 80 years ago. Can only wonder how many kids played make believe in that playhouse. Myself included when visiting my grandparents.

-- Clin

View alittleoff's profile


539 posts in 1212 days

#12 posted 03-11-2018 05:16 AM

I built a large one for my grandson, and probably have 6 to 700.00 in it. To do it right it cost more than I thought. The swings, slide, and extra hardware are expensive. I think the plastic slide was over or about 200.00. Anyway, you can get brackets for the end post and about anything you need or want at Amazon. Type in playset parts, and have fun.
Link for brackets

View Woodknack's profile


11317 posts in 2316 days

#13 posted 03-11-2018 05:26 AM

How about a tree, a length of rope, and an old tire?

- Kazooman

No trees in that section of the yard tho.
- JCamp

That’s a bummer. My neighbor built a really nice swing set and all the kids hung out around the tire swing at our house. The shade probably had a lot to do with it.

-- Rick M,

View jonah's profile


1632 posts in 3235 days

#14 posted 03-11-2018 09:21 AM

Why spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on a swing set when you can get one off craigslist for the cost of gas to go pick it up? When I got mine, there were quite a lot available for $0-$200 that all probably cost four figures when new.

View John's profile


242 posts in 1518 days

#15 posted 03-11-2018 12:35 PM

I agree that you should look on craigslist. You can find people giving them away all the time by me.
I bought a kit for the one i built for the kids. I did the math and the kit was about 200 more than buying lumber and hardware, the benefit being that i had it built in about 7 hrs instead of 30.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

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