A Frame Swing Set

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Forum topic by Van G posted 05-10-2012 04:05 PM 10156 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Van G

15 posts in 2285 days

05-10-2012 04:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: swing set a frame

Need to build a swing set for my daughter and have a couple design questions.

I would like to get 3 hanger set (swing, trapeze, swing) and possible a climbing rope on the outside.

Needs to be able to support adults, sit in place (going on turf so I can’t dig it in, at most I can pin with 12” spikes).

All of the commerical sets I’ve seen use the steel brackets at the top of the A. The couple A frames I’ve seen on this site do not use them but have a 2×4 cross support between beam and A.

Figure I would use 4×4 wrc for the A’s, 2×4 wrc for cross supports, and 2×6 wrc for the beam.

Can I get this rigid in all planes by building my A’s with domino joints and then carriage bolts/screws for the top of the T and cross support?

Or do I need to buy some of the A brackets to really firm it up?

Is there a ratio of height to base spread that I should look at?

-- Andre, Great White North

11 replies so far

View Bobmedic's profile


379 posts in 2829 days

#1 posted 05-28-2012 12:34 PM

You can get the metal brackets or cut notches and use lag bolts. Just keep in mind the notches should not exceed ⅕ the thickness of the beam.

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Van G

15 posts in 2285 days

#2 posted 05-28-2012 02:46 PM

I suppose I would be giving up the ability to disassemble, but would Festool Sipo Domino’s be strong enough for the top brace.

Would 4×4 top beam be strong enough including adults or do I need to ply 2×6’s?

-- Andre, Great White North

View hhhopks's profile


651 posts in 2404 days

#3 posted 05-28-2012 03:05 PM

I used store brought brackets from the hardware store (playground section). Work fine. I had a fort and two “A” frames. I do recommed it. The A frame is plenty strong. The beam was two 2×6 back to back bolted together (I supposed it could of been glued). The issue is the other direction. Since nothing is sink to the ground the fort has to be rigid as that allow the two A frame to hold.

I screw my kids’ playground together as cedar is expensisive. It paid off as, we moved. I was able to disassembled it and were able to move it. $750 and that was about 15 years ago.

I would post some pictures but I have recycled the lumber as my youngest is ih HS now.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

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Van G

15 posts in 2285 days

#4 posted 05-28-2012 03:16 PM

I’ve looked at the swing-n-slide and gorilla playsets hardware and neither looks overly secure but perhaps bulk does not add rigidity to the structure.

Assuming these are similar to what you purchased ‘back in the day’?

We have limited space so we are just doing to A frames – 2 swings inside frame, and single locations for climbing rope on the outside of the frame.

-- Andre, Great White North

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Monte Pittman

29395 posts in 2365 days

#5 posted 05-28-2012 04:32 PM

The design on mine should comfortably hold 1000 lbs

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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Van G

15 posts in 2285 days

#6 posted 05-28-2012 04:43 PM

Thanks for the post Monte. What angle do you have the vertical angle do you have the A on?

-- Andre, Great White North

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2877 days

#7 posted 05-28-2012 07:02 PM

There’s a lot of movement stress on those joints, Andre. Once a glue joint loosens up, whatcha gonna do?

I’d vote for the bolts and brackets.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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Van G

15 posts in 2285 days

#8 posted 05-28-2012 08:07 PM

So the only part I need to figure out is the proper way to do the joint between the two A frame members and the beam. Am I creating a tenon on the each of the two A members and the mortise in the beam?

Assuming this is as strong as the brackets, more cost effective, and cleaner look.

-- Andre, Great White North

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2314 days

#9 posted 05-28-2012 08:38 PM

I’d increase the beam to 6×6 if you’re going to use WRC. This will also give you more attachment area for the A frame, which should be bolted on and cut to surround as much of the 6×6 as possible.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Bobmedic's profile


379 posts in 2829 days

#10 posted 05-28-2012 08:40 PM

You could use a 4×6 as the top beam and mortise in the A frame pieces.

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Van G

15 posts in 2285 days

#11 posted 05-28-2012 09:00 PM

Not sure I would be up for m&t for all these joints. Have to get it done relatively quickly and have no experience cutting them :)


If top beam is 4×6 WRC and A frame legs are 4×4 WRC I’m cutting the legs at 60 degree top and then allowing for 1/2 the width of the beam so it sits on each leg and the the sides of each are flush with each other.

Where and how many lag bolts for this joint?

On the A frame, I would put a horizontal member between the two approx 1/2 way down.

Lateral rigidity from cross members between each leg and beam. Likely do these on the outside since we’re having over hang for climbing features.

-- Andre, Great White North

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