Running the groove in the bottom rail is fairly simple. Set up a router with a straight bit (or an up-spiral bit) of either 3/8″ or 1/2″ diameter. Next set up a fence on the router 7/16″ from the bit, and set the bit for a 1/2″ depth. (The final depth is 1″, but take it in two passes.) By running the router on both long edges of the rail, the groove will be centered on the piece. Check the fit of the back slats in the rail (or better, a test piece), then make the groove.
To cut the same groove in the arched top rail, see the photo at left. You will need to adjust the depth of the final cut a bit to compensate for the curve of the arch.
Miter the top rail to length, then check the fit of your slats in the grooves. The spacing between the slats should be about 2-1/4″, but double-check your dimensions.
After cutting the double biscuits at the joints, place the slats in the bottom groove and locate the top rail in position on the slats. Mark the height and curve on each slat. Remove the slats, numbering them as you do. Now add 1″ in length to the marks on the slats and cut them to their finished length using the band saw. You’re now ready to glue up. I used polyurethane glue for all my glued joints. The polyurethane adhesive provides a strong water-resistant bond in even long-grain to short-grain joints. Don’t glue the slats in place, however. Place them in the grooves in their approximate positions, then after the frame has dried, use a brad nailer to tack the slats in place with a single brad at top and bottom, from the back. To protect the lower rail from rot from standing water in the groove, cut blocks, (called fillets), the size of the spaces and glue them in place.
You’re now ready to glue and bolt the back to the seat. I used four 1/4″ threaded bolts with washers to bolt the bottom rail of the back to the back rail of the seat. Hold the bottom edges of each flush, and again use polyurethane glue on this joint.
Next cut the two arms and arm supports from 2×4 material and cut them to shape using the scaled drawings on the next page. You may want to cut the angle on the bottom of the support and on the back end of the arms, then fit them in place and confirm the location and angle of the top end of the supports. Attach the arms to the back with a long deck screw through the back stile. Glue the support to the arm and to the seat with 1/2″ dowels between.
The last step is to put the legs on the table, and to notch and fit the support cleats. Start by cutting the leg pieces to the sizes given in the Schedule of Materials. They are two different lengths to allow the table to sit parallel to the ground, even though the swing itself is angled back. Round over the top end of each leg to allow it to swivel without catching, then drill 1/4″ clearance holes, 1/2″ down and centered on the legs. Drill clearance holes in the table battens 1/2″ up from the bottom edge, and 1″ in from the inside corners. Attach the legs using 1/4″ x 2-1/2″ bolts with two washers on either side of the leg and a nylon-lined nut to hold the legs tight, but not immobile.
Check the spacing between the legs (near the bolts) then cut the leg braces to fit, and screw them in place between the legs.
Now head back to the saw and cut the two table support cleats to fit between the inside stringers. Clamp these in place, center the table in place left to right and mark the location of the legs.
Remove the cleats and cut 7/8″ x 1″ notches on the leg locations. Then use a handsaw to trim the ends of the legs to form tongues to fit into the mortises you’ve just created in the cleats. Glue the cleats in place, and once dry, the table will drop into place in the cleats, holding the table steady.
After adding 3/8″ x 4″ eye bolts to the front and rear of the swing seat, the swing is ready to hang. If you’ve got a porch, find a sturdy joist and get the lemonade. If you happen to be missing a porch, construct a simple A-frame structure to let you swing in style anywhere in your yard. PW
David Thiel is a Senior Editor for Popular Woodworking.