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Swinging Into Labor Day Weekend

8/25/2014 4:39:00 PM

Tags: Patio Swing, Webbed Swing, Webbed Lawn Chairs, DIY Patio Swing, Patio Furniture, Sheila Julson

Sheila JulsonThe late summer season brings many great things for me, like the joy of picking and savoring garden veggies that we nurtured since spring. Farmers' markets are overflowing with produce that I cannot grow or don’t have space for in the yard. The Milwaukee Brewers are in a pennant race, and the city is alive with festivals and events for those of us trying to grasp the very last strand of summer brilliance before the leaves turn, and before we know it, we’re housebound by frost and snow for several months.

In an effort to spend as much time outside as possible in comfort, I recently redid the patio swing. The swing was originally given to us by my mother’s friend, who I believe was just simply trying to avoid the chore of hauling the clunky object over to the city dump. That was evident when we returned home one afternoon and walked out of our garage to find the dilapidated swing on the patio, with no sign of Mom’s friend.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a “before” photo, but let me give you an idea of what the swing looked like: the worn, military green paint job flaked in several spots, revealing rust underneath that gave a camouflage effect. If one wasn’t careful when sitting down, he or she would fall right through snapped rubber straps that served as the seat. A thin bent frame attached to the top was meant to hold a canopy, but that, too, had seen better days.

“That guy!” my mom grumbled. “I”m calling him right now to come get this piece of --”

“Wait a minute.” I held up my hand to stop my mom. As a born D.I.Y.‘er, I cannot completely discard junk before giving it a thorough examination to determine if it is truly a lost cause. I shook the swing frame. It was sturdy. The straps would have to go, as would the twisted metal that was once a canopy frame. But a little paint, and something to replace the straps ... hmm.

After a few days of thought, I cut the rubber straps off and was happy to see that there were pre-drilled holes where the straps were attached. I removed the canopy frame and scrapped the metal. After a thorough sanding and a couple coats of white spray paint, I was ready to add a seat.

I love almost all things retro, including the old aluminum framed webbed lawn chairs. Yet the webbing was hard to find. After exhausting every discount and hardware store in the area, an online search came up with this great company out of Georgia that sells not only the webbed chairs, but rolls of webbing and reweb kits.

The giant roll of webbing had arrived, and the color was just was vibrant as it appeared online. Mom, having redone many webbed chairs for my grandmother back in the day, instructed me how to fold the ends so they wouldn’t fray. I measured and cut strips of webbing, and I used 1/2-inch Phillips screws with washers to hold the webbing strips in place in the pre-drilled holes on the swing frame. The webbing strips were spaced a bit farther apart and not as tightly woven, leaving small square spaces in between (unlike the traditional lawn chairs), but it was still very durable.

To prevent fraying, fold the webbing edge over at an angle from right to left. 

Then fold the opposite edge over from left to right to form a triangle on the edge.

I pierced the screw through the washer and webbing and secured it into the pre-drilled holes on the frame. 

After an afternoon of weaving and securing the straps into place, the extreme swing makeover was a success. I’ve since redone the swing in different color webbing. We will spend many hours on that swing, taking advantage of the remaining summer nights.

I attached all the webbing strips horizontally, and then wove in the vertical strips.

Mom’s friend strongly admired the swing after it was redone. He’s not getting it back.

Ready to rock! 

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9/25/2014 5:23:53 PM
I agree that today's society stresses convenience and the "buy cheap" mentality over putting a little elbow grease into repairing old items; thus overflowing our landfills with stuff and more stuff. It is tough to find old replacement parts for things, but I'm always up for the challenge!

8/28/2014 8:30:47 AM
Shelia, I admire your desire to save useful items. The challenge of preserving and repairing some from another era is very difficult. Our culture makes buying new cheaper than repairing old. As you have indicated finding the right materials or parts to repair the item is extremely difficult some times. ***** Have a great retro repair day.

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