Nothing says summer like a glass of lemonade, relaxing in the shade and hoping to catch a breeze – or creating your own by giving your swing a kick. Of course, I always get so comfortable I’m looking for a place to put my drink down and close my eyes. Now I’ve got a swing designed to help. Integrated into the seat is a simple pop-up table that sits level to the ground while the swing keeps your back at a comfortable angle.
The swing is simple to build. Joinery consists of some simple tongue-and-groove construction, biscuits and screws. Most of the pieces are dimensional lumber sizes you can buy right off the rack. You will, however, need a planer to run the slats down to their proper thickness.
Start the project by heading to the lumber yard. The six-foot swing as shown required one 2×8, one 2×6, five 2x4s, and 10 1x4s all in eight-foot lengths. I chose western red cedar because it’s a durable, lightweight, outdoor wood and is less expensive than redwood. At Midwest prices, the lumber cost about $120.
Once back in the shop, start construction by cutting the seat rails and stringers from the 2x4s. As you probably know, dimensional lumber comes with rounded edges. You’ll need to get rid of them. Cut the pieces for the rails and stringers to their 3″ thickness by first running one edge over the jointer until they have a square edge, then rip them to 3″ wide. To give the seat a comfortable back angle, set your saw blade to an 7-degree bevel and run the back rail on edge to give a 7-degree angle to the back.
Now cut the pieces to length and screw the stringers between the rails, spacing them as shown. The center section spacing is critical because the pop-up table needs to be square so it can be lifted out and turned in place and the legs lowered. Use 2″ galvanized deck screws when screwing the seat frame together.
Mill all the slats at the same time because they are essentially the same size. Cut the 1x4s into 24″ lengths, and plane the boards to 5/8″ thickness. Then rip them to their 2-1/2″ width and crosscut the seat slats to 20″. To give the swing a finished look, cut an 1/8″ roundover on all four top edges of each seat slat using a bit mounted in a router table.
Attach the slats for the permanent seats, running the slats from side to side. They should flush up in length to the outside edges of the stringers, and the front slat should be flush to the front rail. Use about 3/8″ spacing between the slats. I decided to attach the slats to the frame using finish nails and an air nailer. This left a much smaller hole than screws, and it was very quick.
To finish the seat I decided to build the top surface of the table at this point. The spacing works the same as on the side seats, but run the slats from front to back. The slats are attached to two table battens (3/4″ x 1-1/2″ x 19-7/8″) that are held 1/16″ or so away from the inside face of the front and rear rails. This gap should allow the table to lift out without binding, but some slight fitting may be necessary. Don’t worry about the legs yet, we’ll do that later.