I saw a comment on the blog today that referenced a question on how we set up our sensory swings, and I thought this could be my shining moment in the blogosphere (whatever that is). So I took a few pictures and thought I'd run through how I set up Hannah's swings. Here's the the warning: this might be fairly boring if you're not interested in swings, and don't worry, I won't be offended if you don't read on, even if I do think you'd be missing some pretty awesome swing pictures.
Two quick caveats: (1) I am not a structural engineer, nor do I play one on tv. Everything I'm about to describe is simply how I fit out the playroom. If you have any doubts about doing something similar in your home, apartment, treehouse, outhouse, etc., talk to someone who understands this stuff better than me; (2) If I use the wrong term, don't get too upset -- see caveat (1).
In our basement we have the ability to expose the joists from the floor above, so I simply slid three of the 2'x2' tiles out of the way to expose a 6' section of a joist in the right area. We were fortunate that the joist I wanted to use ran roughly through the middle of one of the tile rows. Note that I made sure there was plenty of room for swings from the spot I picked (i.e. the primary swing location is located away from walls, lolly (a.k.a. lally) columns, steps, etc.). Our joists are 2"x8" so I chose to use 2"x6" supports, and as you can see from the picture, I secured approx. 5' sections to either side of the primary joist. The idea is that the joist will not be torqued (i.e. twisted) nearly as badly since it has support on both sides. Using the additional boards also allowed me to move the swing mounts more towards the center of the tile row. To fasten the boards I used two wood clamps to hold them in place and then secured them with (3x) 5/8" carriage bolts. To spread the force I used washers (the fattest I could buy) on both sides. I then put 5/8" eye-bolts at three strategically placed locations along one of the newly installed boards. This allows us to use multiple kinds of swings. The eye-bolts I used had the longest shanks that I could find, just to add additional support. And that's about it -- pretty simple, huh?
When I told Natty I wanted to do this post she suggested I also show off our different swings, so I'll give a little description of each. In each of these the most important thing is to be as safe as possible, so I've tried to keep that in mind as we've slowly added more. The disk swing is actually a carryover from our house in Indiana. I attached a carabiner to the rope and then used a separate carabiner to attach to the previously mentioned eye-bolts to allow for a little extra swing. I hope to eventually replace this second carabiner with a swivel mount to improve this even more. We mount the disk swing to the center mount. Two quick learning points: (1) buying the thickest rope available (ours is 1") makes it easier for little hands to hold on, and will hopefully allow Hannah to climb up the rope when she gets a little older; (2) working with thick rope is a pain in the rear.
The second swing is our platform swing, and was both pretty easy and fun to build -- Hannah even helped. Without going into too much detail, the main component is a 2'x4'x3/4" piece of plywood that I rounded and sanded down. After all expenses the final cost was under $50 (let me know if you'd like additional detail on what I did). We hang the swing from the outer two mounts.
Next is the trapeze bar/ring assembly we pulled off our outside playset. I know these are available at home stores, but I would recommend going with the highest quality you can find as this is the swing that has the lowest weight rating for use (80 lbs.). Hannah actually just started using a similar swing at OT, except that they have it on a swivel, so whenever I find one we'll probably start doing the same thing.
The final swing (for now) is a hammock. We use a canvas hammock that used to be in Hannah's playroom in Indiana -- I wouldn't install a woven one as the thought of her getting stuck (or worse) really worries me. The current setup isn't ideal for this swing, but the various mounts allow us to spread out the hammock or fold it in half, depending on what we want Hannah to do. When we fold it up we typically put her bean bag or a pillow in it to spread out the sides just a bit. Again, this swing would work better with a swivel. The one other thing of note is that the hammock is suspended using nylon rope that is knotted a different heights to allow us to do different things -- when the hammock is spread out we use the lower loops and when it is folded we use the higher loops. As a side note, I learned all my knot tying skills from the following website: http://animatedknots.com/
So that's it for now. I'd be happy to try to answer additional questions if anyone has them, but it's really pretty straightforward. I should mention that I don't let adults (Natalie) do any real swinging, just in case (again, refer to caveat (1) above). However, I have tested all of the swings myself (much to Hannah's delight) and I'm about 5x her weight.