Are you looking for a way to improve the quality of your outdoor living experience? Building an Outdoor Arbor Swing for your backyard could help solve the problem. In this tutorial, I created a step-by-step plan on how to built it using basic tools.
Time to Complete
Download Printable Plans in PDF
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Cut Four Corner Posts for the Arbor
When building a project for outdoors, I recommend using pressure-treated wood. Pressure-treated wood is more durable and less susceptible to decay, insect infestation, mold, and water damage. Using this type of wood will extend the life of your project for many years.
Even though pressure-treated wood is rot-resistant, it is not water-resistant. Any contact with moist soil will speed up the natural process of wood decay. So it’s important to have the arbor standing on bricks or concrete blocks and not on the ground.
Start with cutting the four corner posts of the arbor. Take 4×4 pressure treated wood and cut four pieces to 84 1/2″ in length.
Step 2 – Cut Horizontal Side Pieces
Next, take a 2×4 board and cut two pieces to 82″ in length and two pieces to 60″ in length. Then take 2×6 and another two pieces to 60″ in length. These boards will be installed horizontally, connecting the corner posts together.
Step 3 – Trim the Lower Diagonal Brace Pieces for Stability
To make the arbor frame more stable, you need to add diagonal braces on each corner.
Take a 4×4 and cut four pieces to 39″ in length. Then trim the ends of these diagonal boards at 15 degrees, as shown in the picture.
Step 4 – Assemble the Sides of the Arbor
Place the two corner 4×4 posts on the ground parallel to each other 60″ apart. Then take the lower 82″ board and measure 11″ from both ends. Place this board over the 4×4 posts at the 11″ mark and secure it with 2 1/2″ wood screws. If your lumber is very dry, you will need to pre-drill the pilot holes to prevent it from splitting.
You could also choose to use bolts and nuts instead of wood screws. The benefit of using bolts and nuts is that you could tighten them because the wood will dry and shrink over time.
Next, attach the middle board at 34″ from the ground and the upper board at 66 1/2″. Make sure these boards are connected at 90 degrees. You could use a construction square to check the angles.
And finally, install lower diagonal pieces from the post to the bottom 2×4 board. You will need longer screws when attaching the upper end of the diagonal brace. This diagonal board should line up with the bottom horizontal piece and the middle horizontal board.
Repeat this step to build the second side panel of the arbor.
Step 5 – Connect the Two Side Panels of the Arbor
Before connecting the two side panels together, find a good location for the arbor to stand. Make sure you have concrete blocks or bricks on four corners under the posts.
The side panels will be connected together with 2×6 boards at the top. Take 2×6 and cut two pieces to 109″ in length.
Measure and mark the exact locations of four corners on the concrete/bricks. Then have someone help you to stand the two side panels on those marks. Next, measure 5″ from both ends of the 109″ piece and attach it to the post at those marks. This board should be flush with the top of the 4×4 post. See picture.
It’s essential to have the side panels leveled and the horizontal boards attached at 90 degrees. Again, you could use a construction square and a level to check the angles.
Step 6 – Install Upper Diagonal Brace Pieces
In step 4, you installed lower diagonal brace pieces to prevent the arbor from swaying back and forth. You also need to install the upper diagonal brace to avoid rocking from left to right.
Take 2×6 and cut four pieces to 26 1/4″ in length with 45-degree miter cuts on both ends. You could install these pieces the way they are or cut out an arc for esthetics.
The arc could be 15″ long. Measure 3 1/4″ from one end and then draw the 15″ long arc. Next, cut it out using a jig saw. Once the first arch is cut, use it as a template to draw the other arches. Finally, cut out the remaining pieces.
Using your Kreg Jig, drill two pocket holes on the backside of each brace board. The pocket holes will go on the end that attaches to the 4×4 post.
Measure 64″ from the ground and mark it on the post. Then attach the diagonal board at that 64″ mark. Use 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws when connecting the brace to the post and 2 1/2″ wood screws when attaching it to the horizontal upper board. Make sure the diagonal brace is positioned at 45 degrees.
Step 7 – Cut the Roof Trusses
All roof trusses are cut to the same length, but they consist of different wood sizes. You will need two 1x6s, two 2x4s, and seven 1x4s cut to 72″ in length.
Next, follow the provided dimension to cut out the notches and the curves on each truss. See picture.
The 2×4 trusses will have the swing attached to them. But 2×4 by itself is not strong enough to support the weight of the swing. To make it stronger, you will need to add a metal angel on top. Take 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ angle and cut two pieces to 63″ in length.
Measure 21″ from the ends of the 2×4 truss and drill a 3/8″ hole for the eye bolt to hold the swing. Transfer and drill these hole locations from the 2×4 to the metal angle. Make sure the holes match so that you could fit an eye bolt with a nut.
Step 8 – Install Roof Trusses on the Outdoor Arbor Swing
First, attach the 1×6 trusses to the 4×4 post on both sides of the arbor. Then measure 9 1/2″ and attach the 2×4 truss. The remaining 1×4 trusses need to be spread out evenly between the 2×4 trusses, about 9″ apart.
Now place the metal angle over the 2×4 truss and install the eye bolts with washers and nuts.
Step 9 – Build Metal Frame for the Seat
When building a frame for the seat, you could use only wood or a combination of wood and metal. Having the main structure out of metal will make the bench stronger and will prevent it from sagging over time. You might want to use aluminum or stainless steel angles to make it as light as possible.
Take 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ metal angle and cut two pieces to 76 1/2″ in length and two pieces to 29 3/4″ in length. The two long pieces will need to have ears for the rope/chain to connect. Using your Sawzall with a metal blade, cut 2 1/2″ off the bottom section of the angle on both ends. These 2 1/2″ ears will extrude out on four sides of the seat for the chain to connect. Drill a 1/2″ hole in the ears. Then using an angle grinder, smooth out the ears so there are no sharp edges.
The metal angles will need to be connected with bolts and nuts. Overlap the metal angles to where they need to connect and drill the holes slightly larger than the bolt size. Then connect the seat frame together with bolts and nuts.
Step 10 – Built the Backrest Frame
The backrest frame is also made from four metal angle pieces. Cut two pieces to 71 1/4″ in length and two pieces to 19 1/2″ in length. Trim the bottom ends of the shorter pieces to 15-degrees, as shown in the picture. Then drill the holes for the bolts. The lower part of the backrest needs to be attached 1 1/2″ higher for the 1x4s to fit through (see step 12).
Step 11 – Connect the Backrest to the Seat Frame
Measure 8 1/4 from the back of the seat frame. Then place the backrest at that 8 1/4″ mark. Tilt the backrest frame back about 15 degrees and clamp it so it does not move. Then drill the holes through the side of the angle into the bottom of the backrest. Secure the backrest to the seat frame with bolts and nuts. The backrest should not tilt further back than 15 degrees. If it does, you might need to add a diagonal 2×4 brace to keep it at 15 degrees.
Step 12 – Cut and Install 1×4 Wood Pieces to the Seat
Once the metal frame is assembled, fill in the seat and backrest with wooden boards. Take 1×4 and cut twelve pieces to 29 3/4″ in length. Then slide in under the backrest and attach to the metal frame.
Next, cut twelve more pieces of 1×4 to 17 1/2″ in length. Attach the pieces to the backrest frame.
Step 13 – Attach the Wood Trim Around the Seat Swing
Now take 1×6 and cut two pieces to 73″ in length and two pieces to 29 3/4″ in length for the trim. Then attach the trim boards around the seat to the metal.
Step 14 – Install Chain and Hang the Seat
To hang the swing, you could use a chain or a heavy-duty rope. Cut, and then install the chain to the eye bolt hanging from the 2×4 roof truss. Then connect the chain to the seat metal ear. Place the cushions and pillows on the seat, and you’re done with an Outdoor Arbor Swing.