It’s just a Swing Set, now How Hard Could That Be?
Having kids, you know sooner or later they will ask the question “Daddy, I want a swing set, so will you get me one?”
The Cost Comparison
Let me tell you, in Manila at least, that can be a torturous experience. Looking at the options I found the following:
- Rustans Makati and SM – A cheap Chinese plastic one with even cheaper plastic slide for 45,000 PhP, or about 1000 USD. Great, something that fades and the slide is about 36 inches long. That would be ok if it was about 200 USD, not 1000 USD. And my kids would outgrow that in like 6 months. Not a great return on investment. And aren’t we like right next door to China? Wow, a lot of markup. Perhaps a trip to Guangzhou is a better bet.
- HMR Harrison Plaza – A cheap pine swingset from an Australian company, boasting of US Yellow Pine. Well that wont hold up after the buk buk tears away at it. How do these guys sleep at night offering such junk to consumers here I will never understand.
- Buy from Amazon in the US. If you could find someone that would ship to you. Otherwise ship to someone else and then cross ship it over to you. Expensive time all the shipping costs are figured in. Oh yeah, and try to get a 9 foot slide for example, that will cost you a fortune plus because it is oversized its not a viable option. Forget that.
- Buy parts from online guys. Ok, but then you still have to wait for shipping and could I buy the parts here. The answer on that is later on.
What to Do?
So the option to me was build my own. Having spent 2 years on a US Navy ship as the only Marine, I understood firsthand about wire rope, chain and fasteners. The US Navy is like the Catholic Church, don’t expect technology to change overnight, they still did things the “old fashioned way”. Go with what you know!
Oh it seems so simple, but then get some Filipino engineering involved and you can end up with a house before it is all over…
First the parts
The chain is pretty simple, you can buy that at True Value, Ace Hardware, Alabang Home Depot, MC Home Center, etc. Be prepared to spend a tidy sum for the chain itself if you go this route. Yes it will last if you buy decent strength chain. 3/8 minimum chain specifications.
However in chain and fastener shops in Manila, around 400 PhP per foot. 5.5 feet x 2 for every seat you need on the swing set. So that works out to 22 feet or 8800 PhP or 220 USD. You also can find the clevises you need.
Tu Soy Steel and Screws on Thomas Mapua St in Santa Cruz, Manila is the source. You can also find various clevises and fasteners in this area. You would need these to connect the seats and chains together. Finding things here is a bit more challenging than just pointing and clicking from US sites, but that general area in Santa Cruz is loaded with shops selling the hardware you would need. Do your research online before going down to buy, so you know what you want.
When Size Matters
Big discussions with folks on what constitutes a rigid swing set. If you left it to everyone involved either I would have something built out of 2×4 or 8×8, depending on their view of strong. My choice was in between, since I want to add things to it over time, like a slide, a climbing rope, or a cargo net as the kids get older to play on.
I used 4×4 posts and a 6×6 beam. I had my own lumber cut , sanded and polyurethane (4 coats). Cost for posts and beam from Philippine Mohagany, around 4000 PhP or 100 USD
You want to connect the posts and beams together. I could have used just bolts, but wanted something that wouldn’t rot through the posts later on. Now here is where all the fun begins. The metal shop we found wanted to see the posts to exactly measure the beams and assemble the brackets on site. Only in the Philippines could you afford to do this.
The Angle of the Dangle
We explained to them it’s a 6×6 connected to 2 – 4×4 at a 60-degree angle, but they insisted. Then of course more plate is better so an over-engineered 6mm stainless plate was determined. Yes it could have been done with 45 degree angles, but hey, I have yard space and I can attach a tree house to this if I wanted.
Talk about overkill, I could hang my truck from this swing set haha.
Photos Showing End and Top Views of Brackets in Place
When the bracket guys showed up, they insisted on cutting the 4×4 to notch into the braces. Of course when you get engineers involved it means a lot of protractor work to make the cuts, but in the end a superior fit.
The seats and chains were set up in advance of the fateful day. On Friday the posts arrived. Saturday the metal guys arrived, along with a TIG welding machine, various buffing wheels, cutters, grinder tools and the like.
It took a flurry of measuring the posts over and over and assembling them in various poses before the final welds were done. Of course with a first class job like this, everything had to be polished, and a couple bolts had to be lengthened on site with rod stock (TIG welded and stressed of course).
The job cost, including a TIG welding expert, 2 polishers and the bosses son, about 8000 PhP or 200 USD. But look at those brackets, they gleam in the sun.
So the final rundown
220 for Chain
200 for Wood
200 for Brackets
80 for various clevises, cable and fasteners
The final product
And yes, we haven’t put the posts in the ground yet. We are going to dig post holes and set in concrete so no bugs can tunnel up from underneath into the posts. Trust me, its so heavy right now my charming wife and me went swinging on it and not one shudder. And look at those brackets gleaming in the sun!
That is my daughter and her cousin in the photo for you grammatical purists, not me and my wife. What a beautiful thing to behold, especially after looking at that plastic piece of junk at Rustan’s. I will add a wooden slide to this for another 80 bucks next week…