John Olenik's Swing

Recreating a childhood memory with a little help from Norm.

SHOP OWNER: John Olenik
LOCATION: Ballston Spa, NY

     When I was a boy growing up in the '50s, these lawn and garden swings were quite popular, and plentiful, and my father bought one for the back yard. My friends and I spent many fun filled hours pushing the old pine swing to its limits, and it provided me with many lasting memories.
    My father taught me my rudimentary skills of woodworking, which never were fully developed until 40 years later, after I raised a family....but I always promised myself I would build one of these beauties, and here it is. (As an grandfather who came from Poland lived with us, and he actually exposed me to woodworking with all his hand tools in the barn in the back yard, and with the projects he would make).
     I would like to take credit for the original design of this swing; however, the plans came from the New Yankee Workshop, and I made some slight modifications. The basic frame is built from premium-grade 2x4s with the bottom of the legs capped with aluminum L-brackets with corrugated rubber underneath to prevent rot. I built the remainder of the swing (seats, platform, supports) of non-furniture-grade cherry (sapwood, imperfections, etc). When sanded, it provides a very nice paint surface.

     For a nice smooth look, I rounded over all the edges of all the pieces on my router table, and I primed and top-coated all the pieces with premium paint before assembly. The painting took about as much time as cutting and assembling the entire swing! All the hardware (lag bolts and nuts, washers, screws, eye bolts) is stainless steel, which was the most expensive cost I incurred, since all other material was stock on hand. I assembled the seats and platform with an air nailer and some screws, and I filled and sanded over all the holes for a seamless look. Much of the joinery was lap joints, which were pretty fussy because of the various angles in the piece.
     Next Spring, I will probably build a canopy for the top. All in all, this "high tech" version outperforms the old one in the back yard, but I know that my father and grandfather would have been very pleased with the results.

...Janusz Edziu Olejnik
(John Olenik)

[EDITOR'S NOTE: John is a talented woodworker who is active in the Northeastern Woodworkers Association, in upstate New York. I've been judging their annual shows for the past six years, and I came to know John through the work he entered in the show. This swing is a slight departure from the Arts & Crafts-inspired furniture that John usually builds. Click here and scroll down for a look at a Morris-style chair and footstool John built two years ago for the show.]




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