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Picture of Rope Swing with Monkey's Fist
So you're not satisfied with a skinny rope, a granny-knot, and a branch that wouldn't hold a squirrel? Learn to do it the right way.

An eye bolt will keep your rope from rubbing the bark off of the tree and/or wearing through. It'll also make the swing much smoother.

A monkey's fist will give you a place to sit (or stand) while your swing. And, let's face it, it will look awesome.

Step 1: Step 1: Get your hardware

Picture of Step 1: Get your hardware
For about $15 at Home Depot or Lowes, you can get:
  • 1x clevis shackle (a nice big one; mine was rated for something like 2000 lb)
  • 1x eye bolt (long enough to go through the branch you've chosen)
  • 1x regular nut
  • 1x lock nut
  • 2x washers
If you don't already have a rope, get one while you're at the hardware store.
  • My rope is nylon, about 30 feet long and about 1.5 inches thick. It cost me somewhere around $20. 
  • You need 10-15 feet of rope for the monkey's fist knot
  • Thicker is better: no one wants to cut their hands on a thin rope, even if it's strong enough.

we have some discussion here. Well, I'm fascinated with swings too. And this is using swing
hanging strap to protect the tree from damage. Is that a better option? Coz I'm
still skeptical on what kind to use on my swing. I want it to be the best tree
swing ever for my kids and protect the tree at the same time.

solobo (author)  Neva738508841 year ago

I really do think a bolt will be the safest for the tree in the end - I had the rope tied over the branch (similar to that strap) and it took less than a year to rub almost all the way through the tree bark.

*sigh*. Guys, its just a tree! Also, it doesnt damage the tree. If you had just tied it the tree would have grown around the rope. Trees don't have a nervous system or a brain. So they cant feel pain

There is no excuse to show such disrespect for a living thing, even if "it's just a tree."

....and even less excuse to disrespect something that help make the very thing that you need to live.

As I said, a good Instructable on how to make a thing...not so good as to how to put it to use, there are better ways.

Again someone who knows more than professional arborist. You going to troll the brain surgeon they're wrong too?

.....and they use to try curing a migraine by drilling a hole through your skull. Hmmm, last I saw they had found much less aggressive ways to deal with the problem.

As I had stated; A good instructable on how to make a thing...not so good as to how to put it to use.

.....there is always a better way. Just ask your brain surgeon.

Stop trying to justify a dumb approach You can attach to the tree with an expandable system which makes little if any imposition on the tree. You stuff up own up and fix up

Vannion3 years ago
For anyone who is not an arborisrt that says it's horrible to drill into a tree, stop eating anything with maple syrup..... Also do not use anything made out of wood hypocritical uneducated murders. For example there is tree at my office that has three bolts through it to fix splitting, they are almost grown over. But something causing repative friction will damage the tree each time.
JeanYves23 years ago

How can you drill a hole in a living tree? There are so many ways to do otherwise without damaging the tree! Unconscious and ridiculous !

Wow, You know better than the arborist? Did you read nothing? The long term affects of something hanging on a branch are far worse than a bolt in the tree. And as he pointed out it will grow over the bolt, where as the friction will prevent it from growing.
justdavid3 years ago
A double figure 8 knot would be even more secure, easier on the rope and even easier to take apart should the need arise. Either way, it's awesome!
solobo (author)  justdavid3 years ago
Drtim13 years ago

This tree in style with many of the tree huggers that have tatoos of piercings. Maybe this fellow in in tune with what his tree requested, get off the anthropomorphic idiocy and enjoy. How many trees and other plants had to die for each of you to have lived this long

rybitski3 years ago

Great job selecting a forged eye bolt instead of a bent one! One thing to consider is the addition of what we refer to in the theatrical industry as "mousing". Essentially running a zip tie or bailing wire through the shackle pin to prevent it from loosening over time.

Don't worry about all the complaints about the tree. You did nothing to harm it.

solobo (author)  rybitski3 years ago
Thanks (and good suggestion on the "mousing")!

Nice instructble on how to make a knot and an even one on how to damage a tree. If you think this doesn't damage the tree limb then spend the rest of your life with a thick steel rod sticking out either side of your leg.

solobo (author)  your_dragon1133 years ago
I think it would damage me to spend the rest of my life half buried in the ground, too. Fortunately, I'm not a tree :)
naviathan3 years ago

Galvanized metals are dangerous for plants. If you're going to do this, spend the money on stainless steel so you don't inadvertantly kill your tree or make it very sick.

solobo (author)  naviathan3 years ago
3 years later: so far so good. The tree and branch are both super healthy.
Mindmapper16 years ago
How dare you damage a tree in this way, that is really really unnecessary. I am, it would appear others are too, shocked by this vandalism.

Ah'm shocked and I insist the EPA be brought into dare a pvt citizen drill a hole through his own tree w/o gummint permit ?! Seriously, a good job and post.

solobo (author)  24193 years ago
Bravo for scathing this unworthy scalawag. It's going to confuse all the poor squirrels too.
Yes they will get confused about the nuts!
chr00013 years ago

geesh..... bravo to all who came to the rescue of Solobo.

I know it's 3 years old, but : Nice instructable! The monkey fist is a beautiful knot, the swing is awesome and well executed!

Anyone prone to a coronary about drilling a hole in a live tree should take a moment to just swing on your creation and lower their blood pressure. I 'fixed' a young Japanese Maple similarly after an overzealous 8 year old vigorously climbed it and split the narrow crotch almost 2 feet down to the root ball. I drilled the trunk, screwed it together with-3- 3 inch brass screws and never thought of it again. To this day the tree is healed, healthy, much larger, beautiful, and there is no sign of the repair visible. And oh.... almost forgot - the overzealous 8 year old is now working on his Master's degree.

solobo (author)  chr00013 years ago
YaënD3 years ago


heartbroken to see a such good idea hurting the tree. :(

Lol a monkey fist will give you a place to sit. Get fisted!
antioch5 years ago
There are only a few cases where a tree is damaged to repair it. Drilling cables through a split branch to repair it is mostly used for aesthetic reasons and when you're on a tight budget. In a few exceptions it can help keep the branch alive for a little longer. Drilling through a branch is a serious injury and will weaken it.
The 'swallowing' or growing around a farmers fence is an entirely different thing. At least to the tree. Like growing skin over a wound, it takes ages. That's the speed of trees from ahuman perspective.

Old bike tires help prevent ropes wearing into a branch. You can either pull the rope through the tube or you can unfold the tire mantle and wrap it around the branch where you want to strap the rope over it.
No matter how hard I try I can't do it right
Markdaman96 years ago
That was an amazingly written article! I am extremely excited to make this myself.
Thank you!
walshlg6 years ago
I'm pretty sure that galvanized bolts are very bad for the tree and may kill the branch
fran=16 years ago
you did a good job the eye bolt is a excellent idea,that's the way the tree people cable branches that are weak till the tree grows doesn't hurt the branch much less damage the tree.the one thing I would do is put a tie wire through the hole in the clevis pin to the u part they have a way of coming lose
solobo (author)  fran=16 years ago
good idea
Kdemon6 years ago
Well done sir, how did you get up into the tree... Climb or Ladder?
solobo (author)  Kdemon6 years ago
I climbed, just because I didn't have a ladder.
qawdrg6 years ago
Дерево не жалко??? Надо применить другой метод крепления качелей!!!
keng6 years ago
a monkeyfist stopper?! you are HARD CORE SIR!!!
marhar6 years ago
I don't have a convenient tree, but was able to put the monkey knot to good use on a light fixture string. Thanks!!
lbrewer426 years ago
God job!

Hard to believe we live in a day where people complain about drilling through a tree. Too many people with little experience in nature making too many opinions b/c they hear and believe PC propaganda that is killing US - not the trees.

Its like if Abe Lincoln tried to give a lecture on the best computer OS.
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