How to Build a Hammock Awning
Now here’s a home improvement project you’ll want to dive right into. After only a couple of days of building, you’ll be swaying in the gentle summer breeze.
Sure, you can hang a hammock from trees (if you’re lucky enough to have them in the right spots), but one of the great features of this project is that it lets you choose the ideal location and bring your shade with you. Another plus is an optional awning cover that’ll let you nap even during a gentle summer rain.
This project is built around two solid 6x6 treated posts that you set in concrete. The rest of the project is made from ordinary cedar dimensional lumber.You can get all the screws and other hardware at your local hardware store or home center. Figure on spending about two to three days building plus a half day applying a clear deck sealer to the project. It’s to your advantage to have some carpentry experience, but even a novice can complete this project with simple carpentry tools and our clear step-by-step photos and dimensioned drawing.
Project step-by-step (17)
Notch and Drill the Posts
- Make the top notch for the ridge board by drilling a 1-1/2 in. hole through the post and then hand-sawing from the top to the edges of the hole.
- Drill the 1/2-in. diameter hole 12 in. from the bottom for the No. 4 rebar.
- Note: Check your individual hammock specs to make sure you get enough spread between your posts. We spaced ours 166-1/2 in. from center to center, which left 161 in. between. This distance worked for a wide variety of hammocks.
Clean the Notches
- For the side notches, make multiple passes with your circular saw set at 1-1/4 in. deep.
- Then clean out the debris left behind with a wood chisel.
- Flatten the bottom of the notch with a coarse file.
Dig Holes and Plant the Posts
- Dig a 12 x 24-in. hole at least 31 in. deep.
- Screw a cleat 30 in. from the bottom of the post to hold it to the correct depth.
- Drill a pilot hole, then drive a 16-in. long piece of rebar (expose equal amounts on each side) through the post as shown to help bond it to the concrete.
Plumb the Posts and Pour Concrete
- Nail a pair of 1×3 x 8-ft. temporary supports about 20 in. down from the top of the posts to help you plumb and position the posts.
- Screw the supports to stakes driven into the ground.
- Once the posts are straight up and down, run a string line across the bottom and tweak the posts so their faces are perfectly aligned.
- With your posts aligned and level with each other, mix your concrete, two bags at a time, to a firm consistency.
- Scoop the concrete into the hole and use a stick to pack it in around the post.
- Keep mixing bags until you get up to the surrounding soil.
- Check your alignment again and then berm the concrete slightly so rainwater will run off.
- Complete both holes, recheck alignment and wait two days before adding to the structure.
Cut the Curved Parts While You Wait for the Concrete to Set
- Note: The curved parts (D and F) of this structure give it a soothing elegance. They’re not difficult to cut but take time to lay out.
- Make a full-size template by drawing a 2 x 2-in. grid on a piece of Masonite or thin plywood.
- Lay out the curves with a trammel (large homemade compass) by simply drawing the inner and outer radii of each piece on your lumber.
- Pro tip: Use a large deep-throated jigsaw blade to help make a smooth, even curve. A regular jigsaw blade is thinner and shorter and could wander in thick material.
- Plot the points as shown in the plans and draw the curves.
- Cut out the shapes with a jigsaw.
- Use this thin piece as your pattern to mark the actual pieces onto wider dimensional lumber.
Set the Ridge Beam
- Set one end of the ridge into a notch and then walk the other end up the ladder and drop it into the opposite notch.
- Note: You may need to tap the ridge to get it completely seated.
- Fasten it to the posts with 3-1/2 in. lag screws set off center and one on each side.
Make Supports for the Crossties
- Using a water-resistant carpenter’s glue, glue and clamp pairs of bracket pieces to make up the thick supports for the crossties.
- Once the glue dries, sand the edges with a belt sander to even the curves of the brackets and the rafters.
- Pro tip: Start with an aggressive 60-grit belt and move to a 100-grit for the final sand.
Attach the Crossties
- Center the crossties on the post notches.
- Lag-screw each one to the post with 5/16-in. x 2-1/2 in. lag screws.
Attach the Brackets
- Clamp your brackets in place them onto the post.
- Drill a 1/4-in. deep recess with a 1-in. spade bit, then drill a 1/4-in. pilot hole for your 5/16-in. x 4-in. galvanized lag screws.
Attach the First Fascia Boards
- Center the 2×6 fascia on each side and align the lower edge with the point on the crossties.
- Drive 3-in. deck screws through the fascia boards into the crossties, leaving 9-3/4 in. projecting past the outer crossties.
Fasten the Curved Rafters in Place
- Brace the fascia temporarily to take out any bow.
- Clamp one end of the rafter to the fascia and screw the rafter to the ridge.
- Screw through the ridge into the rafter using a pair of 3-1/2 in. deck screws at each end.
- Start with the center rafter and then lay them out evenly (34-3/4 in. on center) toward each end.
- Note: The end rafters appear tight to the posts, but they’re actually spaced 1/4 in. away.
Rip the 5/4 Decking
- Rip the 5/4×6 cedar decking in half to 2-11/16 in. width using an edge guide mounted on your circular saw.
- Round over the cut edges to match the factory edges with a bearing-guide 1/4-in. round-over bit.
Use Nails as Spacers
- Install the top center slat first.
- Space the slats evenly.
- Drive finish nails every 4-15/16 in. (from the top down) to help hold the slats in relative position as you fasten the far end.
- Screw in the slats, then pull the nails.
- Straighten the slats as you screw them to the middle group of rafters.
Attach the Roof Slats
- Check the spacing at each junction to avoid wavy slats.
- Screw the roof slats with two 2-in. deck screws into each rafter.
Seal the Framework
- Lay a tarp on the ground below and apply the finish with a 4-in. roller immediately followed by a 2-in. brush.
- Begin with the upper slats and work your way to the posts.
- Let the finish dry for a day before using the shelter.
Attach Hammock Chain
- Drill a 3/8-in. pilot hole and then drive a screw eye into the post.
- Pro tip: Use a lever to help turn the screw eye.
- Add a 10-in. piece of chain.
- Note: We only needed two links to connect the hammock. You can let the extra chain dangle or cut it off if you’d like.