How-to: Make Your Kid a Tire Swing

Build a Tree House
Tie a rock around a lightweight rope and toss it over the tree branch. Tie your chain to the rope and pull it over.
Tie a rock around a lightweight rope and toss it over the tree branch. Tie your chain to the rope and pull it over.

Be safe! Before you begin, check out the CPSC’s Home Playground Safety Handbook. We didn’t follow all their recommendations, but we did pay special attention to the “Hardware” and “Maintenance” sections.

Keep your tree safe! This arborists’ forum offers several options for mounting a tire swing without harming the tree, but the consensus, and the method that we used, is to encase the rope or chain that cinches to the tree limb with sturdy rubber or plastic tubing. Inspect this set-up regularly, so that you can remove the swing if the limb shows wear or damage.

Now, here are the tutorials. You can pick and choose, as we did, which parts to follow from several tutorials so that you end up with the perfect tire swing for you:

installing eye bolts around the tire
installing eye bolts around the tire

VERY detailed tire swing instructable: If you’re not sure where to begin, THIS is the tutorial to begin with! The instructable includes tons of helpful photos, particularly of installing the eye bolts to the tire. Instead of using S-hooks to attach to the eye bolts, however, as the tutorial calls for, I suggest that you use locking carabiners, as we did. If they’re good for rocking climbing, they’re good for tire swings!

painted horizontal tire swing: This tutorial includes tips for painting your tire, and for picking up a free used tire from an auto repair shop. The mounting of this particular tire swing is similar to the way we mounted ours, except that we used eye bolts instead of U-bolts, and we mounted our tire at four points instead of three.

Popular Mechanics’ tire swing: This one’s for the diagram readers! The complete tire swing project is presented here as one diagram, suitable for printing and taking to your local hardware store for supplies. Pay careful attention to the tubing called for in this project–the tubing around the top is critical to protect your tree branch, and the tubing at the bottom is critical to protect tiny fingers. We used both sets, and have that lower set of tubing starting right at the tire.

tire swing with a built-in safety hazard: Although this tire swing project uses a recycled nylon recovery strap, which is lighter than chain, please note that any rope or strapping that you allow to hang down to a kid’s level is a strangulation hazard. My kids play hard, and there’s no way that I could trust them with this particular swing.

My kiddos LOVE their tire swing. They swing on it, they rest on it, they read on it, and it’s the source of uncountable imaginary games, both together and alone. When they’re both grown up, that tire swing will be the basis of many happy childhood memories.

And then they’ll build tire swings for their children!

7 thoughts on “How-to: Make Your Kid a Tire Swing”

  1. Oh, how we miss Black Beauty! That was the name Emma gave our tire swing. We had ours rigged up differently, where Emma had to sit on the tread and you could throw a ball through the opening. When we first starting using it (our tire was larger then the standard tire), Emma could hunker down inside the tire. She’d nap in their while her Da or I pushed her.

    Fun times. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

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