Building a wood playset for the kids should be nothing short of a memorable experience that involves the whole family. But sometimes this is easier said than done.
Most of us have been in a situation where a project that should be an enjoyable opportunity for bonding and productivity slowly turns into a slightly frustrating situation because of minor mishaps. Usually this can be attributed to underestimating the scope of the project, or hitting some other sort of speed bumps — missing a tool, stripping a screw, assembling components in the wrong direction, etc. — along the way.
That’s why we are excited to use our 24-plus years of experience manufacturing, assembling and installing swing sets to offer some advice. Here are nine tips to help you build your family’s wood playset with as few hiccups as possible!
1. Read through product specs, features and assembly instructions, thoroughly and carefully, paying attention to any notices about the type of lumber needed for the product and the list of items included with the product. When you receive the product, lay out the pieces and compare them to the list of parts. This will save you from starting the project and then having to pause after realizing that you need a different type of lumber (for example, Eastern Jungle Gym swing sets are designed to fit kiln-dried wood) or are missing an important component (perhaps you would like to purchase stakes because the children using the set are a bit older), either because it was not part of the purchase or maybe because it was omitted in error.
2. Pick the right location. This should be a fairly level area, away from concrete, asphalt and other hard surfaces. A rubber mulch play area is ideal. We also recommend keeping stationary components at least 6 feet from any obstructions (trees, fences, storage sheds, etc.).
3. Give yourself enough time. We advise setting aside at least one full day for the construction of your wood playset, depending on the size of the unit, your experience with assembling wooden structures and so on. It is highly recommended that you have at least one adult there to lend assistance.
4. Gather the required tools. For a traditional A-frame swing set, you’ll need the following: 1/2″ standard socket, 3/4″ standard socket, standard socket wrench, electric drill, 1/4″ pilot drill bit, tape measure, level, claw hammer, step ladder. Additional tools may be necessary depending on the wood playset model you have selected, but this information should be included in the instructions that come with the product.
5. Begin the assembly on the ground. Your wood swing set will likely involve some sort of brackets. We recommend keeping these brackets on the ground as you slide in the lumber and secure the beam and posts.
6. If you purchased a wood swing set kit, keep the boxes nearby. They could come in handy for keeping hardware organized, or for sliding the swing set into place (as this couple did in a time-lapse video showing the construction of our A-frame Cedar Bench Swing).
7. Remember the basics. Wear safety glasses; be sure to tighten and secure all lag bolts and nuts; pilot recessed holes as instructed to help maintain the integrity of the wood, etc.
8. Keep in mind, checks (which are often mistakenly referred to as “cracks”) and knot holes are normal characteristics of timbers. Do not worry if you come across these natural imperfections during setup. Checks are inevitable, as they result from the wood absorbing and releasing moisture. Typically, they do not impact the structure.
9. Have fun! Remember, you’re creating childhood memories by building your kids a beautiful backyard swing set. Make the memory a good one!