How to Build a Homemade Teeter Totter

By Bryan Hansel
A teeter toter provides hours of playground fun.
A teeter toter provides hours of playground fun.

The simple principle behind a teeter totter, a human-powered pendulum, provides hours of enjoyment for kids on the playground. To make it work, a kid sits on each end, with one pushing himself into the air and the other dropping to the ground. Because a teeter totter operates on a simple principle, making a homemade version is as easy as connecting a board to an above-ground pivot point and securing the contraption to the ground.

Saw your wood into the correct sizes. For the supports, cut four pieces of 1 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch wood planks to 20 inches. For the spacer that holds the supports apart, cut a two-by-four to 13 1/2 inches. For the teeter totter plank, cut a two-by-eight to 10 feet.

Drill a 9/16-inch hole five inches from each end of the support boards and 1 1/4 inches from the ends of the spacer. Make these holes centered across the width of the board.

Sandwich the spacer between two support boards so that the holes line up. Run a carriage bolt through the hole in the top support board, the hole in the spacer and the hole in bottom support board. With a wrench, tighten the bolt. On the other side of the spacer, align and bolt together the other two support boards. When finished, it should look like an "H" with a low center line.

Place an old tire onto of a plastic sheet and insert the "H" structure into the old tire with the spacer side down. On the top of the "H" structure, you'll add a bolt through the open holes.

Mix up a batch of quick cement and fill the old tire. The plastic under the tire prevents the cement from soiling the ground under the tire. After the cement dries, the support structure becomes the teeter totter's pivot point. Follow the quick cement's instructions for mixing.

Run bolts through the remaining holes in the support structure. When finished, the teeter totter plank sits on these bolts.

Place the water pipe evenly across the center of the teeter totter plank. Place a pipe saddle clip on each side of the pipe. Use a screwdriver to secure the pipe saddle clips to the teeter totter plank with 3/4-inch deck screws.

Slot the teeter totter plank's water pipe down between the support boards so the pipe rests on the carriage bolts.

Tip

To help prevent injury, use the teeter totter above a soft surface like wood chips.

About the Author

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.