We Built a Swing Set!

We Built a Swing Set!

This post has been a long time coming.  Life with 2 very mobile and energetic kids just gets busy (which is why I needed an outlet for their energy in the first place).  Throw in several weeks when of 3/4 of us had pneumonia, and the past couple months have flown by.  However, we’ve had plenty of time to test out the new swing set and I can report with confidence it is a winner!

I first started thinking about building a swing set last spring and was beginning to research the idea when Shane broke his leg.  I looked into the Costco sets that you buy ready to assemble, but they were just way out of our budget.  In addition, we had seen some in people’s yards and they just seemed really dinky.  I didn’t want to put forth a lot of money, time, and effort to have the kids outgrow it too quickly!

I looked at complete DIY builds and directions I found via Pinterest and Ana White.  I also looked at other sets that come with pre-cut wood and the hardware and you just assemble it (similar to the Costco sets, but less expensive).  We ultimately decided on the Wrangler set from Swing’n Slide.  The kit included the swings, accessories and the hardware for assembly.  We would just purchase the screws and cut the lumber to size ourselves.

I spent a couple months planning, getting lumber quotes, and figuring out exactly which tools we would need to purchase.  We finally ordered and picked up our lumber mid-November.  By that time, we figured we might as well wait for Black Friday to purchase the other tools that we would need.  We scored pretty big, getting a circular saw, a new drill and several other things for very little money!

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Loading the lumber into a borrowed horse trailer

Shane and I spent a couple mornings cutting the lumber down to size, following the directions included in the Swing’n Slide kit.  That was probably my favorite part of the whole thing! I really like using a saw! I really wanted to get a 12″ compound miter saw, but due to some budget constraints, I had to settle for a circular saw. There were a couple hairy moments trying to contain two little ones while using the saw, but we got that managed without any injuries.

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Still in PJs, Tristan tries to get a piece of the sawing action

Once the lumber was ready to go, we set aside a Saturday when some family members were able to help us out with assembly.  Working until just after sun-down, we managed to get most of the clubhouse part put together.

A couple days later on Shane’s “weekend” (it was a Tuesday), he and I set aside another day to work.  That quickly derailed when we ran out of screws.  We had purchased the poundage of deck screws the Swing’n Slide directions indicated, but that clearly was not enough.  Instead of driving the half hour into town to Home Depot, we decided to just head to the closer Ace Hardware to get what we needed. Naturally, they didn’t have any outdoor 3″ screws at all.  By that time, we had to stop and feed the kids lunch and half the day was already gone.  We flipped ahead in the directions and tried to accomplish everything we could without the 3″ screws.

The goal was to have the swing set completed for Christmas – it was a joint gift to the kids from their grandparents and us.  I left town for a week in December to attend a class, and I was hopeful that Shane would be able to get some work done on the swing set.  This is where we ran into several hiccups.

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Our progress by mid-December, before I left town

The rest of December it just poured and poured and poured rain, stopping any outdoor assembly work.

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The pigs in action

Along with the rain, we had a large family (about 9 or 10) of wild pigs move into our property, completely destroying 90% of our yard.  You have no idea how much damage these darn pigs can do! It was an endless battle of them digging up the grass and me attempting to replace the divots large pieces of sod they twisted and moved (when it wasn’t raining).  They damaged so much of the turf on the side yard, we had to change our plans as to where we were going to place the swing set.  We then had to wait for the availability of extra hands to reorient and move the clubhouse so that we could continue with the assembly.

In the meantime, we went to work on drilling the holes in the beam that would hold the swings.  Enter another problem.  The directions had indicated that we needed a “long” 5/16″ drill bit, but didn’t specify any more than that.  Back on Black Friday, we purchased the longest 5/16″ drill bit that Home Depot had in stock, which was 6″ long.  This was not long enough to drill the necessary holes.  I jumped on Amazon and ordered a 12″ bit, but even with Prime shipping, everything takes longer to get here.

Once the drill bit finally arrived, we were able to finish installing the hardware for the swings.  Shane and I then managed to attach the 12-foot long beam to the A-frame support.  Then by some miracle, just he and I were able to maneuver it from the patio, out to the yard, and ultimately attach it in place.  That was probably our proudest moment! There’s no way 2 people should have been able to do that. In fact, I would advise against it.  At least having a third, if not fourth, person would be much, much better (and safer).

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Whew! Finally securing the swing beam!

To complete our swing set, we installed a cargo net for added climbing fun! Part of the problem with living on an island is we have difficulty getting some things shipped here.  Despite my best efforts, I could not find anyone who would ship a slide here.  At first it was frustrating, but we figured our little monkeys might like an additional climbing element.  So, we simply replaced the slide with the cargo net as an alternative to climbing the ladder to the top of the clubhouse.

We had to purchase a couple more 2″x 6″ boards to build out the frame to secure the cargo net to the clubhouse.  This was pretty easy and straightforward.  However, the directions had a glaring error that I didn’t realize until the boards were already cut.  Those who know me know that I’m very much a color-inside-the-lines, follow-directions-to-a-T type of person. So that’s what I did.  I cut the boards as they specified and when I went to dry-fit them on the frame, realized that the long board they had me cut was 9 inches short of what it should have been! It ended up not being too big of a deal as we just shifted it to fit. It was supposed to run the full length of the clubhouse frame and now it ends awkwardly right below the ladder.

The Swing’n Slide hardware is really great.   We have no worries about swings coming unattached and the bolts and plates used to secure the frame are solid.  That swing set has already withstood a 4.0 earthquake! My only real complaint with the Swing’n Slide kit is their directions.  Mind you, I read the directions front to back about 6 times before we even started building at all.  I found them to be vague (like when they called for a “long” 5/6″ drill bit) and inaccurate in places (as with the lumber measurements for the cargo net). They should have also called for 4 lbs of 3″ deck screws instead of just the 3 lbs listed in the directions.  You’d think a company that makes its money designing and selling these kits could be more accurate in their directions! If things hadn’t been inaccurate or vague, it definitely would’ve saved us time and frustration.

I will say this was a brave undertaking for two DIY novices.  On the other hand, we now feel quite confident we can tackle many other projects around the house!

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Over all we are quite happy with our swing set! The kids have plenty of room to grow into it! In fact, Shane and I are planning on adding a rock climbing wall, and a disc swing on the arm that extends from the top of the clubhouse.  We also have a fourth spot on the swing beam to add something else.  To do that, we will have to order another set of hardware so that we can hang a fourth item. We currently have one regular swing (the kit included 2, the second is in storage), the bar/rings combo, and a Fisher-Price infant/toddler swing for Rosie.

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It’s been really fun to have this in our yard and to not always have to load everybody up in the car to go to the park! I’m so glad we did it!

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