Build Your Own Teeter-Totter: A Step-by-Step Guide

Teeter-totters provide some of the most entertaining moments of childhood. With a little bit of scrap wood and a few tools, you can make your own that's just right for your kids.

A teeter-totter can be a great addition to your backyard playground. However, purchasing a commercial-grade teeter-totter can be quite expensive. If you’re handy with some basic carpentry skills, you can easily build your own teeter-totter for a fraction of the cost. All you need to do is find a detailed step-by-step guide to help you accomplish the mission. Your search for that guide ends here.

How do I make a teeter-totter? The first thing you need to do is gather the requisite materials. They include two pieces of 4×4 lumber 36 inches long, two pieces of 2×4 lumber 30 inches long, and one piece of 2×6 lumber 48 inches long. You will also need a 12-inch diameter pipe, two 10-inch diameter pipes, and two 5-inch diameter pipes. Once you have all the materials, you will be required to build the base, build the supporting base, fit the pipe strap clamps, build the base of the handle, and smoothen the teeter-totter surface.

This blog post outlines a detailed step-by-step process for making your own simple teeter-totter. Read on to learn more.

What Is a Teeter-Totter?

Before we get into the specifics of building a teeter-totter, let’s first take a step back and understand what this playground equipment actually is.

A teeter-totter is a seesaw-like device that consists of a board or beam balanced in the middle of a fulcrum. It is commonly found on playgrounds and is considered a classic piece of equipment. Teeter-totters have handles on each end to make it easier for kids to climb on and balance.

Teeter-totters can be made from materials such as wood, metal, or plastic. The fulcrum is the most crucial part of the teeter-totter since it allows the board to balance in the middle and rotate up and down.

Why Build Your Own Teeter-Totter?

So, now that we understand what a teeter-totter is, you might be wondering why anyone would want to go through the trouble of building one.

There are quite a few reasons why you might want to build your own teeter-totter rather than purchasing a commercial one.

The first reason is that buying a teeter-totter can be pretty expensive. Therefore, building your own can be a great way to save money if you’re on a budget.

Teeter totter outdoor.
Building a teeter-totter is also a great way to teach your kids about physics and engineering.

Another reason to build your own teeter-totter is that you can customize it to your liking. When you build your own, you can choose the materials, the size, and the design. It means you can make it exactly how you want it and tailor it to your needs.

Lastly, building a teeter-totter is also a great way to teach your kids about physics and engineering. They’ll be able to see firsthand how the fulcrum works and learn about the importance of balance.

Building a Teeter-Totter: Before You Begin

Before you begin working on your project, you need to remember that your children will spend hours on the teeter-totter. Therefore, your overall construction process must include a lot of safety features.

For instance, you must use rubber grips, a shock-absorbing substrate handle, and well-cushioned seats. These are just a few safety inclusions to include in your design.

When buying lumber for the project, ensure that everything is straight and has no visible flaws. Cedar, pine, and other hardwood lumber that are naturally water-resistant are the best choice for such a project.

Before starting the project, take time to source all the materials and tools required. This will help you stay organized and avoid making unnecessary trips to the store in the middle of the project.

Here is a quick summary of the tools and materials you will need to accomplish the project:

  • Two pieces of 4×4 lumber that are 36 inches long
  • Two pieces of 2×4 lumber that are 30 inches long
  • One piece of 2×6 lumber that is 48 inches long
  • One 12-inch diameter pipe
  • Two 10-inch diameter pipes
  • Two 5-inch diameter pipes
  • Pipe strap clamps
  • Rubber grips
  • Shock-absorbing substrate handle
  • Well cushioned seats

How to Build a Teeter-Totter: Step-By-Step Guide

Once you have gathered every tool and material required to build a teeter-totter, follow the steps outlined below to get started:

Step 1: Building the Base

The first step is to build the base. You need to do everything possible to have a strong base because it is the backbone of your teeter-totter. It would be good if you used the 4×4 lumbers here since they will serve as the vertical post.

A playground rubber surface.
You need to do everything possible to have a strong base because it is the backbone of your teeter-totter.

Carefully place the horizontal lumber beams at the bottom and proceed to drill holes through them. Insert screws to bind firmly. It is crucial that your vertical posts stay firm. A spirit level checks that your horizontal beams are plumb.

Ensure you have a perfectly square beam to give the base adequate support. However, you must remember that the vertical beam adjustment usually depends on the user of the teeter-totter. Be sure to use waterproof glue to seal the joints.

Step 2: Supporting the Base

The second step is to support the base to enhance stability. Assemble the 2×4 lumbers in a manner that they will serve as the support of your base. The best way to do this is by forming an “X” using the lumber pieces.

The idea behind this design is that it will act as a shock absorber during use. The length of the 2×4 lumber should be 30 inches, and they should be placed 18 inches away from each other.

Use screws to fasten both pieces and apply waterproof glue on the joints for extra support. You can now attach the entire structure to your 4×4 base using nails or screws.

Step 3: Adding the Fulcrum

The next step is to add the fulcrum. The fulcrum serves as the balancing point of your teeter-totter. It is, therefore, necessary to have a stable fulcrum.

For this reason, we recommend using a 12-inch pipe for the fulcrum. The first thing you need to do is to make a hole in the center of your 2×6 beam. The hole should be big enough to allow the pipe to pass through it.

Wooden teeter totter.
The fulcrum serves as the balancing point of your teeter-totter. It is necessary to have a stable fulcrum.

After drilling the hole, insert the 12-inch pipe through it until both ends come out on either side of the beam. Now use pipe strap clamps to bind both ends in place and ensure they are firm.

Step 4: Fitting the Pipe Strap Clamps

Consider fitting the pipe strap clamp on the rear end of the pivoting beam. This is because the fulcrum will be placed on top of the pipe. After that, you need to determine how high you want your teeter-totter to be, then mark the position of your 10-inch pipes.

It would help if you had someone to help you with this process, as it can be challenging to do it alone. The 10-inch pipes should be placed symmetrically on either side of the fulcrum.

Use the pipe strap clamps to bind them in place before going ahead to fit the 5-inch pipes in a similar manner.

Step 5: Adding the Handles

The next step is to add handles on either side of your teeter-totter. This will give users a firm grip when using the equipment. While there are different materials you can use for the handles, we recommend using rubber grips.

First, determine the length of the handles, then proceed to cut them accordingly. After that, use a drill bit to make two holes on either side of each handle. The holes should be big enough to allow the screws to pass through. Fit the handles in place before proceeding to screw them tightly.

Step 6: Adding the Seats

Now it’s time to add the seats. You can use cushions or foam as your seat material, but it is advisable to go with cushions. This is because they are more comfortable and will make your teeter-totter more enjoyable to use.

A happy teenager playing at the seesaw.
You can use cushions or foam as your seat material, but it is advisable to go with cushions.

To add the cushions, first, determine their size, then proceed to cut them accordingly. After that, use a drill bit to make two holes on either side of each cushion. The holes should be big enough to allow the screws to pass through.

Once you have the holes, proceed to fit the cushions in place before screwing them tightly.

Step 7: Adding the Leg Braces

The final step is to add leg braces. This is an optional step, but we recommend doing it as it will add more stability to your teeter-totter.

To add the leg braces, first, determine their size, then proceed to cut them accordingly. After that, use a drill bit to make two holes on either side of each brace. The holes should be big enough to allow the screws to pass through.

A kid at the teeter totter.
Adding leg braces will add more stability to your teeter-totter.

Once you have the holes, proceed to fit the braces in place before proceeding to screw them tightly.


So, there you have it – a complete guide on how to build your very own teeter-totter. It may seem daunting, but with careful planning and execution, you can have this fun backyard toy ready for hours of enjoyment in no time.

Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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