Curved workpieces can make a project more challenging to build But the back of the Swing and also the seat are curved for a couple important design reasons appearance and comfort

Build Pavestone Curved Bench Seat

As the design of this porch swing was progressing, there were a couple elements I particularly liked. The arched back gives the swing a graceful look, almost like an English garden bench. it also makes the swing more of a challenge to build.

Just as important as appearance, I wanted the swing to be strong. I've seen some swings that are suspended entirely by the arms. But this one is held up by bolts through a pair of rails under the seat, see photo above.

The seat slats are strengthened by seat supports that connect the rails, see Exploded View on the facing page. This makes the seat as solid as the floor in a newnome. joinery & material. The strength of the swing is also affected by the material and joinery used. For the wood parts of the swing I used red oak. Plenty strong to hold a couple of adults. And for extra strength, the back of the swing is built with mortise and tenon joints.

COMFORT. Strength is important in a project that's going to support the weight of a person swinging. But comfort should also be part of the design. So, to make the seat of the swing comfortable there s a gentle curve on the top edge of the seat supports. This way, the slats follow the contour of your body as you're sitting.

Finally, all the edges of every piece ofwood thatyour body will touch have been softened by sanding, or rounded over with a router.

Extra Long Patio Swing Cover
Evenly-spaced Mortises. The slats in the back of the porch swing fit in a series of mortises. But they're not cut in the usual way. They start out as one long groove. Evenly-spaced filler strips "plug" the groove to form the mortises.

wmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

SEAT ASSEMBLY

The seat of the swing starts out as a frame. It's built like a ladder with curved "rungs" (seat supports), see drawing at right.

The seat supports reinforce the frame, but that's not all they do. The curved top edge of each seat support is a design feature that makes the seat conform to the shape of your body. So the swing is not only strong, it's comfortable to sit in, too.

SEAT RAILS

In addition to comfort, one of the key design features of this swing is the suspension system. The chains that support the swing are attached to eye bolts in the frame of the seat. This means the entire swing is securely suspended. Not just the arms, which is the way many porch swings are suspended.

SEAT RAILS. So that's where I started. First I cut the front seat rail (A) and the rear seat rail (B) to the same finished length, see drawing at right.

Note: I used %"-thickred oakfor all parts of the seat assembly.

Then the front rail can be ripped to finished width, see Fig. 1. And the rear rail ripped to aroug/jwidth of 2".

Now, drill a s/i6" hole for an eye bolt through both ends of each rail, see Fig. 1. The eyebolts are the hardware that the entire swing is suspended from, refer to drawing on previous page.

Shop Note: Unless you have an extra-long drill bit, the holes on the front rail will have to be drilled from both sides.

SEAT SUPPORT

SEAT SUPPORT

Porch Swing Eye Bolts

SEAT SUPPORT PATTERN One square = 1°

After all four holes have been drilled in the rails, the rear seat rail can be ripped to finished width. To do this, adjust the angle of the saw blade to cut a 10° bevel alongthe top edge ofthe rail, see Fig. 2.

Note: There's a good reason for ripping this bevel. On a typical porch swing, water and debris can accumulate in the crack between the seat and back. (The same way pocket change gets trapped behind the seat cushions in a sofa.)

SEAT SUPPORT PATTERN One square = 1°

1

1

Jim

-

-

3W i

2"

JL

j

Ht-

t

1

The bevel turns this crack into a channel, so water and dirt can flow out more easily, refer to Fig. 18a on page 11.

Now, before moving on to the seat supports, round the corners of both seat rails

REAR SEAT RAIL

2" rouah - width

REAR SEAT RAIL

2" rouah - width

- Centerline a. HOLE DETAIL

Vie" dia. hole

- Centerline

~ FRONT SEAT RAIL

Sand

%" radius on —■■ a/I four corners of each rail

REAR— SEAT RAIL

Sand

%" radius on —■■ a/I four corners of each rail

REAR— SEAT RAIL

FRONT SEAT RAIL
Curved Rail Seat

Align lower edges of rail and support

CROSS SECTION

SEAT SUPPORT

woodscrew

Align lower edges of rail and support

FRONTSEAT RAIL

CROSS SECTION

SEAT SUPPORT

FRONTSEAT RAIL

woodscrew

by sanding a radius on each, see Fig. 3. Then soften all the edges of the rails with a sanding block.

SEAT SUPPORTS

The seat rails are connected by five seat supports, like the rungs of a ladder, see drawing at left. These support the seat slats and also strengthen the seat assembly.

To make the seat slats conform better to the human body, there's a gentle curve along the top edge of the seat supports. And there's a simple way to cut these curves so they're all identical.

SEAT SUPPORTS. To make the supports, start by cutting a blank 4" wide and 16" long for each of the five seat supports (C).

Next, transfer the curve shown in the pattern at left onto one of the blanks. Note: It's not important that the curve be perfect. Only that it have a smooth shape.

Then cut along the curved line, and sand the curve smooth.

Now this first seat support can be used as a template to lay out the curve on the remaining four blanks.

After the curved shape has been cut on all five seat supports, a 10° miter can be cut across the back end of each support, see pattern at left. This establishes the angle of the back assembly.

ASSEMBLY. Now the frame of the seat is ready to be assembled. To do this, there's a pair of woodscrews installed through the front and back rails into each of the seat sup ports, see Figs. 4 and 4a.

Note: I used special outdoor woodscrews to hold the parts of the swing together. And drilled countersunk shank holes for all the screws, see box at right. For more on outdoor woodscrews, see the article on page 30.

SEAT SLATS

The last thing to do on the seat assembly is to make the seven seat slats. I started by cutting the seat slats (D) to finished dimensions, see Figs. 5 and 7.

Then, the edges of all the slats need to be softened to prevent splinters and make the seat more comfortable. To do this, rout a Vs" roundover on all the edges, see Fig. 5.

Now set aside six of the slats and continue withjust the front slat. For this, I went a couple steps further.

To make the front slat less sharp on the back of your knee, there's a larger (%") roundover routed on the top front edge, see Figs. 6 and 7b. And a notch on the front corners of the slat makes room for the arm post added later, see Fig. 6.

ATTACH SLATS. Now the seat slats can be screwed to the seatframe.And to give all the slats the appearance of being equally spaced, I followed a certain sequence when screwing them to the seat supports.

First, attach the front slat so it overhangs the front seat rail (A) by Vi" — the same as the depth of the notch, see Fig. 7b.

Note: All the slats should be centered on the frame from left to right. On my swing,

BRONZE SCREWS

Because they're rustproof, silicon bronze woodscrews are perfect for an outdoor project. But while it's harder than brass, bronze is still a soft metal, and the heads of the screws can be twisted off as they're driven. But you can avoid this by drilling the correct size pilot and shank holes, and by not over-tightening the screws.

Countersink screwso head-is below surface

v \ \ V

*

\\ \

dia. shank —hole

dia. pilot hole, full depth

V

this means the slats overhang the outside seatsupports by 1" on each end, see Fig. 7a.

Also note that the screw holes should be drilled so the screws align to the centers of the seatsupports, see Figs. 5,6, and 7.

Now, attach the rear slat in the same manner as the front — but this slat overhangs the seat support (C) by W, see Fig. 7b.

The third slat to install is the middle one, see Fig. 7. This should be centered between the front and rear slats, see Figs. 7 and 7b.

Back Back Porch Swings

BACK ASSEMBLY

One of the most unique features of this swing is the arched back. It's also the most challenging assembly to build. But if you break the procedure down into a series of steps, the construction goes quite smoothly.

BACK FRAME

The back assembly is just a big frame that holds the back slats in place.

I started by cutting the two back stiles (E) to the same width and length, see drawing at right. Note: The tops of the stiles will be cut off later.

RAILS. After the stiles have been cut, the back rails can be cut. First I cut both rails the same length, see drawing.

Then rip the lower back rail (F) to finished width, see drawing. Because the upper back rail (G) will be cut to a curved shape, the blank for it starts out wider.

JOINERY. Now, work can begin on the joinery that holds the frame together. Begin by laying out the mortises and tenons on the stiles and rails, see Fig. 8. For tips on cutting thejoints, referto the article on page 14. And refer to page 16for cutting off-center tenons.

cut ARCS. After thejoints have been cut, dry assemble the frame and lay out the top arc on the rail and across the stiles, see Fig. 9. Then cut this arc and sand it smooth. (With the frame still assembled.) Note: See page 17 for tips on laying out parallel arcs.

UPPER

BACK RAIL

UPPER

BACK RAIL

When both arcs were cut and sanded, I began work on thejoinery for the back slats.

GROOVES FOR SLATS. The back slats for the porch swing fit between the upper and lower rails.Thev fit in the frame like tenons in mortises. But instead of drilling a lot of mortises, I used a simpler technique.

The mortises start out as one long groove

25"

BACK STILE

LOWER BACK RAIL

BACK SLAT

3/s" x2Vx 17V/ (rough length)

cut on the inside (facing) edges of the back rails, see Fig. 10a. Then, when the grooves are filled with short filler strips, a series of mortises are created.

ROUT GROOVES. To cut the grooves so they're centered on the thickness of the rails, I used a W slot cutter in the router, see Fig. 10. Each %"-wide groove is routed

Rail Groove Fillers

UPPER BACK RAIL

-LOWER BACK RAIL

UPPER BACK RAIL

-LOWER BACK RAIL

---"TENON DETAIL

Va"

t

J

UPPER BACK RAIL

Radius top corner of each stile

Radius top corner of each stile

1 II

pa.

If;?'

M™)—^

----y-p Jß

• V4" slot

fgjT - -cutter

3As"

3As"

"J

FILLER STRIP

Transfer marks from edge to face

LOWER BACK RAIl

""ECUs

Mn): FILLER STRIP

m in two passes (one from each face of the rail), see Fig. 10a.

LOWER MORTISES. Next, lay out the position of the back slats on the top edge of the lower rail, see Fig. 11. Then transfer the marks to the front face of the rail.

FILLER STRIPS. Now, I moved on to cutting the filler strips that turn the groove into a series of mortises. The easiest way to do this is to start with a long strip of wood the same thickness as the width of the groove.

Then rip the strip so it's slightly wider than the depth of the groove, see Fig. 11.

Now this long strip can be cut into IV4"-long filler strips (H), see Fig. 11a. Then, when the strips are glued in the groove at equal (2V4"-wide) intervals, mortises are created for the back slats. Note: I used a water-resistant glue (Titebond II).

UPPER MORTISES. To create the mating mortises on the upper rail, I used a similar procedure. Start by transferring the marks from the lower rail to the upper rail using a framing square, see Fig. 12.

After the lay-out lines are drawn on the upper rail, more filler strips can be glued in this groove, see Fig. 13.

Note: Because the rail is curved and the marks are straight, one end of each filler strip will need to be trimmed, see Fig. 13a.

TRIM FLUSH. Now the filler strips can be trimmed to fit perfectly flush, see Fig. 14.

After the filler strips are trimmed flush, sand the edges of the rails, see Fig. 15.

BACK SLATS

Now the back slats can be cut. Start by ripping a blank to fit each mortise from thick stock. In my case, all the blanks are 2W wide.

Note: The back slats (I) should all start out the same rough length (17 VS").

CURVED cuts. Now the slats can be cutto finished length. But because the top rail is curved, the length of the slats will vary depending on their location in the frame.

There's a simple technique for marking the slats the correct length. It involves resting them on a piece of scrap clamped to the lower rail, see Fig. 16. Note: The scrap should be clamped 1" icwerthan the rail to allow for both W-deep mortises.

Now the curve of the upper rail can be drawn on the top end of each slat, see Fig. 16. Then the slats can be cut to length along the curved line.

Finally, the frame can be assembled with the slats in the mortises, but only glue the tenons in the stiles. The slats are not glued in the rails.

Before attaching the back to the seat assembly, round over the outside edges of the frame, see Fig. 17. Then the back assembly can be attached to the seat. I used glue and a screw through the rear seat rail into each of the seat supports, see Figs. 18 and 18a i"

UPPER BACK RAIL

Use framing square to transfermarks to upper rail

—LOWER BACK RAIL

UPPER BACK RAIL

"p \

a.

Use chisel to

square up one

end of each

filler srip

f

1

Vaste ~~~ ~

Flush trim bit

UPPER & LOWER BACK RAILS

FILLER STRIP

Trim filler strips flush with edge of rail

UPPER BACK RAIL

|

___4

15]

UPPER & LOWER BACK RAILS

Lightly sand inside (grooved) edges of top and bottom rails

Trace inner curve of upper rail onto back slats offset allows for depth of upper & lower mortise

FILLER STRIP

Trim filler strips flush with edge of rail

Trace inner curve of upper rail onto back slats offset allows for depth of upper & lower mortise

Building Porch Swing
Attach seat and back assembly with glue and screws

ARM ASSEMBLIES

The arm assemblies are the last part of the swing that need to be built. Each assembly consists of an arm post, an arm rest, and an arm rest support, see exploded drawing at right. I started building the assemblies by making the posts.

ARMPOST. Each arm post (J) is simply a short piece of stock attached to the front of the swing. The width of the post should equal the width of the notch in the front seat rail (2 V4'1), see drawing at right and Fig. 21a.

The length of the post determines the height of the arm rest. I found that a 11"-long post produces a comfortable height for the arm rest.

After cutting the posts to finished width and length, they can be screwed and glued to the front seat rail, see Fig. 21a. Note: The bottom of the posts should he flush with the bottom of the front seat rail.

armrest. Now work can begin on the arm rest. This is another gently curved workpiece, and the reason for the shape is not just decorative. The wide area at the front of the arm rest is a good place to rest a book or beverage. But toward the back it only needs to be as wide as your elbow.

Work can begin on the arm rest (K) by first cutting a blank to rough dimensions (4' wide and 21" long), see Fig. 19.

Next, draw the curved shape along the side toward the back of the blank, and lay out the circular notch toward the front, see Fig. 19. (The notch provides clearance for a screw eye that guides the chain.)

Next, before cutting this profile, cut the arm rest to finished length with a 10° bevel across the back end, see Fig. 20. This angle matches the tilt of the back.

Note: When it's attached, the arm rest should overhang the front post 1".

Now, the arm rest can be cut to shape.

Then sand a W radius on the front corners. And round over all the edges with a W round-over bit. (Don't round over the beveled ends.)

ARM REST SUPPORT. Before installing the arm rest, I added an arm rest support, then installed both as a unit. (Refer to the drawing above and also Fig. 20.) The support stiffens the arm rest and provides a way of attaching it to the arm post, see Fig. 21.

After the support (L) has been ripped to finished width (lVi>"), cut it to length with a 10° miter across the end. (Again, to match the tilt of the back.) Note: The length of the support should equal the distance from the front post to the back stile, see Fig. 20. (The arm support on my swing is 19W long.)

After cutting the support to finished size and shape, I drilled two holes into the bottom edge for a pair of VS" cross-dowels, see Fig. 20. These give the woodscrews at the front and rear more to grab onto than just the end grain of the support.

Victorian Curved Porch Swing Arms

After gluing in the cross dowels, the sup- ready for hanging. port can be glued and screwed to the bot- Note: All the hardware, including the tom of the arm rest, see Fig. 19.

Finally, this assembly can be attached to the swing, see Figs. 20 and 21a.

HANGING SYSTEM

The swing is now complete and just about

Victorian Curved Porch Swing Arms

MATERIALS

A Front Seat Rai

C Seat Supports (5)

E Back Stiles (2)

F Lower Back Rail (1

I Back Slats (14)

chain, should be available at most hardware stores. On page 31 we're offering a package of the silicon bronze woodscrews needed.

Before getting too comfortable in the swing, it's a good idea to give it a couple coats of finish, see Finish box at right.

After the finish has dried, drill a W pilot hole in the bottom of the notches that were cut earlier in the arm rest, see Fig. 22a. Then install a screw eye in the pilot hole.

A second screw eye can then be installed the same way in the back stile, see Fig. 22.

Finally, the swing is ready to be hung when the eye bolts have been installed in the seat rails, see Fig. 22.

What's the best height to hang the porch swing? Here you'll have to experiment. Just keep in mind that the swing should be suspended high enough that your feet don't drag as you swing. And low enough that you can still push offwith your toes.

Also, by hanging the swing so the front is higher ■ than the - back, you won't feel like you're being pitched out as you swing forward, see detail drawing on page 7. □

Any project that will spend time outdoors needs a weatherproof finish. An exterior paint or spar varnish would ' give - the protection needed. But no outdoor finish will last forever, so for the porch swing I chose a finish that was easy to renew.

The product I used is called General Finishes' Outdoor Oil, a tung oil with UV and mildew inhibitors.

MATERIALS

A Front Seat Rai

C Seat Supports (5)

E Back Stiles (2)

F Lower Back Rail (1

I Back Slats (14)

CUTTING DIAGRAM

Spar Varnish Porch

CUTTING DIAGRAM

A

F

V/////

B

f

3/a"X4"

96" Oak (2.7Bd. Ft.)

c 1 ...c 1 c !..

C

c

'/////// ///////s

Wx5"-

96" Oak (3 boards @ 3.3 Bd. Ft. ea.)

D

1 / - I

1

-

D

i /_______1

1

3A"x 3"

- 96" Oak (2 Bd. Ft.)

1

D

1 /___________________ 1

1

VA

Oak (4.7 Bd. Ft.)

K

L

G

L

H

%"x6"

96" Oak (4 Bd. Ft.)

F

K

J

v/y// Y////

y///////;/////)

SUPPLIES

(8) #8 x Fh Bronze Woodscrews (55) #8 x 1 Fh Bronze Woodscrews ( 17) #8 x 2 Fh Bronze Woodscrews

(2) Vie" x4" Eye bolts (2)- • Eye bolts (4) le" Hex nuts (4) Vi 6 "Washers (4) V16" x 3" Screw eyes 2/0 Tenso chain (4) Chain connectors (2) ] ' S-hooks

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Responses

  • marcel
    How to attach chain on porch swing?
    5 years ago

Post a comment