A Comfortable Place to Relax
While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I noticed the cover of a magazine featuring a garden swing. I thought that would be great in my backyard. I’d have a place to relax, to read, or to dry off after a dip in the pool. Looking through the local home improvement store, the only thing I found that came close to what I wanted was a cedar chair swing. I choked when I saw the price: $500! If I wanted the type of garden swing I had in mind, a chaise lounge swing, I would have to build it.
Step 1: Recycle a Pallet
Purchasing the material to build the chaise lounge would also have been financially prohibitive. However, there was another way to do it and stay within budget. By using a pallet and modifying it for my swing, even though I had to buy 4x4s and 2x4s as well as the hardware to hang the swing, I still would be far below the cost of the local home Improvement store. Plus, I would have exactly the type of swing I wanted.
Step 2: Convert the Pallet Into a Swing
For the swing itself, I used a long 6’ 1”x3’ 1” pallet. Most pallets have broken slats and nails sticking out, so I had to do a little work getting the pallet ready. I needed another pallet approximately 4’ 3” x 3’7” this was used for the replacement slats for the swing. The easiest way to take a pallet apart without breaking the wood slats is to use a circular saw and cut the slats close to the 2x4 end supports. Then carefully, using a flat bar, pry the slat up from the center 2x4 support. Pry the slat up just enough to be able to use a pry bar to remove the nails. The longer the bar the easier it will be to remove the nail.
Once I had enough slats to complete the swing, I cut each slat to the correct length for the 6’1” x 3’x1 pallet. I removed all but two of the underside slats and filled in the gaps on the top side with the slats taken from the other pallet. This is where I eyeball the spacing of the new slats. I did not want the slats butted together. I left a small gap between each one. This will allow for proper drying after a rain storm.
Step 3: Construct an Adjustable Back
To make the back of the chaise lounge adjustable, I clamped two 2"x4"x 6’ to the each side of the pallet. I measured down approximately 27 inches on each side and drilled a ¼ inch hole through the 2x4s and the pallet side supports. I then unclamped the 2x4s from each side and measured down about 2 inches from the holes and cut through the three pallet support skids (oak 2x4s). This is the chaise lounge back support. I then pre drilled holes every 12 inches on the none movable portion of the swing, applied water proof glue and attached the 2x4s to the chaise lounge seat. I then attached the back support to the 2x4 through the previously drilled holes. The adjustable chaise lounge is complete. You will have to decide what type of mechanism to use to adjust the angle of the back support.
Step 4: Attach the Ring Bolts
Once you have completed the chaise lounge measure it's width, mark your center line on the 4x4 cross piece. Since the cross piece is eight feet, the center line is at four feet. Measure from each side of the center line half the width of the chaise lounge. Mark the spot in the center of the cross piece and drill the holes to attach the ring bolts for the chains which will attach to the chaise lounge.
Step 5: Build the A-Frames
The A-frame is made from five 8 foot 4x4s and two 8 foot 2x4s PT. I made a scale drawing of the A-frame so I could get the correct angles for the base and the birds mouth cut at the top of the A-frame. The drawing was scaled to 1 inch equals 1 foot. I snapped a vertical and horizontal chalk line on my driveway so I could transfer the angles from the scale drawing to the 4x4s. Once you have cut the first birds mouth out, trace the cutout to the other three 4x4s. For the cross-bracing on the A-frame, I use the 2x4s. I cut it in half (4 feet each) and attached one to each A-frame, approximately 31 inches down from the top of the 4x4 crosspiece.
Step 6: Assemble the A-Frames
At this point the A-frames are ready for assembly. The assembly will be easier with the help of at least two other people. The frames need to be plumb. Pre-drill the holes for the three lag bolts which will attach the legs of the A-frame to the crosspiece. Three bolts per leg should be sufficient. Use waterproof glue on the birds mouth cuts. Place the crosspiece into the opening and bolt the left and right A-frame to the crosspiece.
Figure out the correct angle from the top cross piece to the side braced on the left and right A-frame. Pre-drill holes into the angle braces glue and screw the pieces in place. The A-frame is complete and sturdy.
Step 7: Attach the Chaise Lounge
To attach the chaise lounge to the A-frame, you will need approximately nine feet of chain for each side along with six clevises and four anchor rings. Attach the chains to the ring bolts on the crosspiece with the two clevises. Then attach the chains to the chaise lounge with the other 4 clevises. At this point you will need to adjust the height of the swing and the angle of the seat portion of the chaise lounge (up or down). For comfort, two cushions that are 25 ½” x 44 ½ inches should be fit onto the chaise lounge.
Final Project Cost
The cost of this project was approximately S100. The lumber cost $50 and the hardware cost $50. The cushion will cost anywhere from $40 upward to $90 dollars depending on where they are purchased. The cushions have not been figured into the cost of building the pallet swing chaise lounge.
Compare the Difference
The store-bought swing is only good for sitting upright. The DIY pallet swing is adjustable so you can recline, stretch out, relax, take a nap or sit up and read. More versatility for one-fifth the price.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.