Backyard Discovery Blog
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- Teaching kids to prevent playground injuries 03.10.2016
How to Build a Swing Set That is Safe and Fun for Your Kids
Although many people opt to pay extra to have professionals assemble their swing set, most of our swing sets can be assembled at home by someone with a do-it-yourself mentality who has basic technical skills. Each set in the range comes with its own set of assembly instructions. However, this article is a general overview as to how to build a swing set, in such a way that you can feel completely at ease with your kids using the finished product.
Now, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of taking a thorough look at the detailed instruction book that comes with your swing set. The Oceanview Wooden Playset, for instance, comes with an 117-page manual. I know that there are people who hate reading and simply like to experiment. However, when it's your kids’ safety at stake, can you afford to take that risk? For that matter, the manual is mainly filled with detailed illustrations, so there is no huge wad of reading for you to get through.
Even if you don’t want to work with the paper version, there are PDF versions of all of our manuals on this website which you could download onto a tablet or phone. These include the manuals for older products that we no longer currently sell. It is important that you take a good look through your particular manual before you start the assembly process.
I’ve already written about the importance of having a good, soft surface underneath your equipment. That old concrete tennis court in the backyard may be perfectly level, but would be a terrible place for your swing set. Even the back lawn is too hard if a young body falls on it, although at least it is easier to place a soft-fill surface on top of grass. There is a table in most manuals that gives you a good guide to the necessary depth of any loose-fill you use as a surface. For instance, if you position your play set on wood chips, and the furthest your child could fall is 11 feet, then your uncompressed fill should be at least 12 inches.
Don’t forget that the kids using their playset will constantly be on the move. This is particularly relevant for your swings. Don’t forget to spread your play surface wide enough to allow for this, preferably, at least six feet away from the playset itself.
The site does need to be level too. The last thing you want is for your kid’s playhouse to topple over because you have situated it on uneven ground. If you have an awkward, sloping section, you may need to do some excavation work first to level an area for your set. As you assemble each new section of your swing set, it is well worth the effort to make certain that the new section is perfectly level and square.
The manuals give detailed instructions on assembly and safety, which are valuable and important. There is a correct sequence to building your playset, which will vary depending on your particular model, so it again I emphasise the importance of following the steps in the manual for your particular model.
One useful part of the manual is an identification guide to each part. As you unbox each section, make sure that you identify each part, and put it aside ready for use later when it is needed. Parts are clearly labelled which definitely helps with the identification of what goes where.
You do need to have the correct tools to put your swing set together, so collect them and have them on hand, before you start any assembly. The manual makes the necessary tools very clear. There is nothing worse than being halfway through a job and suddenly finding that you’re missing some important tool, such as a particular drill attachment or ratchet that is essential to you finishing the job.
Once you’ve put together all of the tools and everything else you need, it’s time to begin your playset construction.
How do you build your swing set? Well, it should come as no surprise when I say you need to follow the steps in your manual stage by stage.
As I have said, this sequence will vary, depending on the actual set that you are assembling but I will use the Oceanview Set here as an example.
With this set, you begin by assembling the ladder. You can see from the manual that you will need two wooden sections (labelled G2 in this case) as the side and a shorter wooden section (labelled M20) as the attachment board at the top of the ladder. You will also use five metal rungs, ten lag screws and four PFH screws. The manual clearly depicts which parts you should to each other, using which fitting. In this case, you need to attach the two ladder uprights to the attachment board using the PFH screws. You then attach the five ladder rungs to the ladder uprights using the lag screws. The diagrams make it very clear how things are supposed to look if you are at all uncertain.
The next task to do as you assemble your Oceanview Set is to put together the monkey bar. Again, the instructions are very specific. They split this task into seven stages, so you work on a stage at a time. For the first stage, you need to take from your pile of parts, the E74 monkey bar rail, a triangle plate, an L Bracket, three particular bolts, a nut barrel, a washer, a larger bolt, and a T-nut. You combine these items as shown in the instructions. Once Stage 1 is complete, you can then move onto Stage 2, and so forth.
The instructions are highly visual – the clearly illustrate every step of the way.
I won’t go through every step of this assembly, as yours will be different if you buy a different swing set. But I need to emphasise how straightforward each step is. Even for someone who is not at all technical, like me, the process seems surprisingly clear and obvious.
You continue your way through the construction process, stage by stage, slowly building a larger structure, until eventually you have every part assembled and are ready to do the finishing touches. In the case of the Oceanview Set, the final stage before putting everything together is Step 73, where you hang the curtain in the clubhouse.
With each section put together, you move onto completing your final assembly. For the Oceanview Set, this begins by attaching the ladder (which you constructed way back in Stage 1) to the clubhouse (which you would have put together in a number of steps along the way). The next part to be attached securely to the clubhouse is your monkey bar assembly. Then it’s time to attach the swing assembly, followed by the swings themselves. The last major piece of play equipment to add is the slide (this set only has one). After adding the label ID tag there is one very important finishing task, and that is to attach ground stakes, to ensure that your set is secured firmly into position. The last thing you want is for your child to unbalance a set that you haven’t secured to the ground!
Finally, do a double-check of everything. Make sure every part is secure and every bolt, screw and nut tightened.It is probably a good idea to get that spirit level out one final time to ensure that your set is perfectly level.
Once you have done this, you will have built a swing set that is safe and fun for your kids, one you can be proud of. If you have followed all of the instructions carefully and not taken any shortcuts, you should feel happy that you have accomplished a good job, and that your kids will thank you for many fun times yet to come.