How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed

by Todd Walker

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

This rustic swing bed provides mind-blowing naps! A swing bed is typically hung under a large porch or other roofed structure. Since I have neither of these structures, I decided to build one from rot-resistant Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and hang it under the trees at the log cabin.

Here are the materials and tools I used.

Material List

  • Rot-resistant lumber milled or purchased. Pressure treated dimensional lumber could be used but will not offer the rustic feel I was going for. My main frame was approximately 4×4’s with live edges.
  • 1x? boards for slats. Limbs used for footboard spindles.
  • Rope or chain. For hanging my bed from two trees, I chose 5/8 inch poly rope I already had for my log cabin projects.
  • Screws. Trim screws, 3 inch deck screws, and 6 inch TimberLoc screws.
  • Polyurethane to help preserve the wood and color of the red cedar.
  • 2 – Two inch wide auto tow straps.


  • Chainsaw mill. My Alaskan chainsaw mill has provided lots of lumber for several projects over the years. See DRG’s dining room table.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

  • Impact driver and drill… for driving screws and drilling pilot holes and rope/chain holes. Use appropriate sized drill bits as needed.

Size It Up

When this project came to mind, I had no real idea how large a frame I needed. Then I remembered DRG’s air mattress she bought for her tent but never got to use. The queen air mattress measured about four inches short on length than a typical queen mattress (60×80 inches). And since the swing would be under trees (no roof), the air mattress is waterproof and the best choice.

Size Dimensions
Twin 39″ X 75″
Twin XL 39″ X 80″
Full 54″ X 75″
Qu 60″ X 80″
King 75″ X 80″
California King 72″ X 84″

Chart courtesy of American Mattress.

I built the frame to handle the 60×80 inch queen mattress if I ever move the swing under a roof. On the frame, I added 5 inches to the queen width and about 15 inches to the length to accommodate the mattress and give enough room for corner holes for hanging the bed.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

These milled pieces have live edges.

Live edges had to be shimmed to make a flush top surface for the frame. I drilled pilot holes and ran the 6 inch screws in to secure all corners.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

As you can see above, two of the three sides are taller. This is to provide a headboard of sorts for the top and side of the bed. The shorter side would of course be the footboard. The short side is about 16 inches tall with the others being about 24 inches.

I used the toenail method to screw the four corner posts to the frame. I used both deck and TimberLok screws. I was pleased with how sturdy it turned out.

I ran a 2×3 down the middle of the frame lengthwise to help support the bed slats. Since I didn’t want to mill one inch boards, I used 1×6 cedar boards from a box store. Trim screws secured the slats to the frame.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

Corner posts and slats installed. A ledger board was screwed to the frame to give the ends of the slats a resting place.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

Vertical spindles installed the two tall sides.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

Red cedar limbs made the footboard spindles.

I attached the footboard spindles with trim screws. If you’ve ever cut down a red cedar tree, you know how many limbs become available to you for other projects.

Choosing non-natural rope will give your swinging bed longer life. Natural fiber rope tend to degrade in weather sooner.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

Drilling 3/4 inch holes in the four corner beams to accept the 5/8 inch rope. Tip: tape the end of the rope tightly to form a sharpened pencil point to insert into the hole. You’ll thank me later.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

A simple overhand knot holds the rope secure.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

Applying an exterior polyurethane to highlight and protect the beautiful color of red cedar.

With a two-point connection, the bed is less stable getting in and out than if you had a four-point connection. I used two towing straps with hooks wrapped around two trees near my log cabin.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

Philip giving it a test run after helping me hang the bed.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

The air mattress is 18 inches high, too high really for this swing bed.

Bug proofing is handy here in the south. I bought two of the bug nets pictured below. One of these nets is intended for a twin size cot or mattress. I figured two sewn together would cover a queen size mattress. I was right. Melonie, who helped install the log cabin subfloor and porch deck, was nice enough to cut, design, and sew these two together in her “spare” time.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

I bought two mosquito nets, which when sewn together, made a full-coverage net for the bed.

How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed -

Queen size bug net hung with bamboo frame.

I enjoy cooler evening temperatures in the swinging bed at the log cabin. The whippoorwills serenade and I usually nap. It’s a peaceful place indeed!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

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Categories: Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Homesteading, Log Cabin, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “How to Build a Rustic Outdoor Swing Bed

  1. Daniel W Payne

    Love my friends website and am amazed at hos talent!!


  2. Definately up to your usual standards of excellence. Looks really great!
    Given where you’re at, the bug net/bamboo frame are really essential.
    We’d love to see it. Who knows maybe our next trip around the sun we’ll get to drop by for a visit.

    Dan and Brenda


  3. What a wonderful looking swing. Even I had not too much trouble following the instructions. Will have to get the hubby to look at it. Reminds me of the kind of things I see on the lawn down the road that they sell for a thousand bucks a wollop! Enjoy every single second. Namaste 😉


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