Just a-Swingin’

Come sit a spell.

There are miserable things about living in the South. I’m not talking about racism and poverty, which are everywhere. (I’ve got a couple of friends who are Alabama natives who lived for years in Philly, who assured me we’re just as likely to find shirtless rednecks 30 miles from Independence Hall as we were outside of Auburn.)

Nope, I’m talking about brutal summers, when the blistering sun sends you into such a delirium that even the crappiest movie at the cineplex sounds like a glorious escape. I actually paid money to see “The Meg” last June.1

The tradeoffs come in the way of two long shoulder seasons, including a pleasant fall that stretched so late this year that I was wearing short pants in November. 

And that, dear ones, is why front porches are so important to us down here and why a porch swing is a requisite feature on them.

About a month ago, I eyed the stack of pallets I’d been saving for projects to be determined and realized that the largest of these pallets was wide enough to make a loveseat-wide porch swing that would be perfect for the narrow porch on one of our rental houses.

So with an idle Saturday in front of me and my long-documented passion for making stuff out of pallets2, I broke out the crowbar, the Sawzall, the circular saw, and the cordless drill and got to work.

A pallet porch swing

I sketched out a rough plan based on measurements from the swing on our own front porch (albeit that one’s a much wider incarnation).

I said it was a rough plan…

Pallets can be a hot mess to break apart. If they’re made with hardwood — and they often are — they’re just as likely to splinter as pull apart under the coaxing of the pry bar; hence the reciprocating saw to cut through nails. So a key goal was to craft my build using the pallet largely intact. My plan was to cut the thing in half, at a bit of an angle, using one half for the seat and the other as the back. I wanted the seat to not have large gaps, though, so I planned to pry or cut off slats from the bottom of the pallet, then rip them to the right width to plug the spaces on the top of the seat.

The original pallet, one slat removed and just before cutting the back off at a slight angle.

Turned out my pallet was made of pine or some other soft wood, though, and pulling off the planks was so easy that I ended up pulling off all the seat slats and butting them up to each other, which meant I’d only need to rip one of them.

Reassembling the slats on the bottom to eliminate gaps.

I tweaked the angles here and there and tapered off bulky places to give the thing just a wee touch of elegance. I wasn’t going for artistry, but I was going for not “I grabbed this from beside a dumpster.” It wasn’t until I had the back attached, though, that I realized the biggest snag.

IMPORTANT LESSON ABOUT PALLETS

Just because a pallet has four corners doesn’t mean it’s square.

See?

Well, I couldn’t stand for that. Or sit for it. Or swing for it. So I had to pry off those three seat-back slats as well as the ones on the backside, measure and cut the three 2x4s to the same length, then reattach the slats.

Thass better.

I used slats removed from the underside of the seat to craft a couple of arms, and with a small piece of scrap 2×4, it was done, save for drilling holes for the chain, painting, attaching the hardware and hanging.

Since I’m picture happy today, here’s the final deal, all hung up and ready to boost a couple of happy tenants.

And just in time, too. Now that it’s early November, there may only be eight more weeks of porch weather. 

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Footnotes:

1Coincidentally, one of those friends in Philadelphia I mentioned is also named Meg. She’s much more fun to hang out with for two hours than Jason Statham was. And I’m seriously thinking about calling her “The Meg” from now on.

2A few examples include …

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