Rock Climbing Hangboard - 2x4 Challenge
Reddit r/woodworking had a quarantine challenge which participants were supposed to construct something out of a single 2"x4"x8'. Wood working and rock climbing are my two passions in life. I have always had the luxury of being able to go to the rock climbing gym for training, but COVID19 forced all the local gyms to close so I lost the ability to train and upkeep finger strength. This project enabled me to kill some time and also create something to allow me to get back to training. I pulled aspects into my design from from other wooden hangboards I've used in the past. I went in with a general idea of what features I wanted and a general design, but no drawings or sketches. I basically winged it. I used a premium fir 2x4 for construction, while not the ideal wood species to use, it should work. I apologize for any sketchy climbing jargon most of you are likely not familiar with!
#hangboard #climbing #bouldering #rockclimbing
As per popular demand, completed photo first! I can't believe I completed something on time, and with a few days to spare!
Documenting the start of the project. Didn't have a newspaper so took a screenshot of the photo where I took the length measurement.
Sticker at the bottom of the 2x4x96 (8 ft).
Used my miter saw to cut the single 2x4 into four "equal" length pieces. I use quotes around equal for reasons that I will explain later...
Used my table saw to cut the radius off. Photo shows 1 side ripped down.
Photo of both sides ripped down and bonus new set of paint stir sticks.
Passed the faces over the my 6" jointer to get them smooth and flat. I don't have a planer but I'm not overly concerned about how parallel the "external" faces are. As long a the interior corners are square for good glue up, I don't care about the rest right now.
Checking out grain direction and figuring out where to place finger holes and what not. Planning where to best position knots that will get removed and not lead to cracking. Plan your work, work your plan.
Wasn't sure what router bit to use and finger hole dimensions. For fun and practice, I used a 1" and 3/4" spade bit in a piece of scrap and then used a chisel to remove waste and roughly gauged the size. I settled on a 3/4" tray and bowl router bit for the holes to allow me to get a smooth transition between the walls of the finger groves and the bottom of the hole.
This is the photo of scrap for the 3/4" sizing.
Laid out all the pieces to glue them up and discovered I botched my measurement and the quotes around "equal" mentioned earlier come into play. I cut the three longer boards to the dimension of the shortest board, but I didn't document it out of embarrassment. Sometimes when you mess up, you have to just go with it. Good thing I didn't have a sketch or drawing I was working to because that would have seriously rattled me.
Gluing up the edges of two boards.
After glue was dried, i took it out of clamps and set it aside to glue up the next set.
Glued up the remaining two boards. While the second set of boards dried, I worked on removing glue squeeze out on the first set of boards using a chunk of tool steel as a scraper.
The piece of tool steel mentioned in the previous photo is in the background here. Used it to knock off the squeeze out, then used my dull No. 5 to flatten.
Rinse and repeat the previous steps on the second set of glued up boards.
Passed the faces over my jointer to flatten them, because I was feeling lazy.
Marked the faces to see what material I removed.
The final 2 boards nice and flat. Now on to cutting out the finger holes with my router.
Took 1 piece of scrap plywood, cut it down into 3 pieces and marked out roughly the size of finger grooves. I went with 2 finger, 3 finger, and 4 finger pocket sizes. I planned to use my template guide and plunge router to cut the finger grooves out. I based the dimensions on ~1" per finger and had to account for the template guide offset and router bit diameter.
Used my table saw to cut the vertical edges of the template because I was feeling lazy and my scroll saw to cut out the rest. In hindsight, I wish I would have taken the time to make it a single continuous template on all sides, instead of this U-design. Oh well, something i learned to apply later.
The finished templates.
Test piece, also checked the depth for a starting point. You can see the template guide, tray router bit, dust collector and plunge router set up.
Set up to start cutting down grooves of varying depths.
Progress of cutting the finger groves out. The depths of the holes on the right side of the board are mirrored to the corresponding holes on the left, but vary between the style of hole (2, 3, or 4 finger). This will become the bottom row of holes on the finger board.
Bottom row completed. Now to work on the top rows on the top board.
Ripped to top board down by ~2". I think I did this a bit prematurely in the process. I ended up clamping the piece I cut off, when I clamped up the board on my bench so I could better position and clamp my template.
Progress shots of the top board. As described previously, the bottom part of this board is actually lose, but clamped up in my bench vice between dogs. This was so stupid.
Set the top board on top of the bottom board for an overall progress picture. On to the top row.
The top board with both rows of holes finished.
Glued the top board down to the bottom board.
Boards all glued up, moved on to removing glue squeeze out next.
Trimmed the ends down on the miter saw to remove the glue, because I'm lazy.
After scraping most of the glue down, I ran the top of the board over the jointer again.
Cut the back edge off the hang board with my table saw. If you can imagine this photo rotated counterclockwise 90 degrees, the table saw wing will be the mounting surface (wall or door jam). The lip formed by cutting off the back edge will act as a jug (climbing jargon) for pull ups. The hold will be roughly 1" diameter after shaping. I also put the original scrap piece i prematurely cut off to show where we started and where we've gone. Remember when I mentioned about the interior joints all being square to each other? This end view shows the interior joint where the four corners of the 2x4's meet.
I wanted to create established right and left jugs, and also leave a middle jug for one arm pull ups. I planed to leave 2 flat spots for open hand hanging. I marked out the section I planned to remove on the left, and copied the dimension on the right.
Knife wall for tenon saw to ride against. Also created a depth mark with a knife for chisel work. The depth went down to the same depth as the big rabbet removed with the table saw. I probably could have cut this out using the table saw and a dado stack, but what would have been the fun in that?
Used a tenon saw to cut these slots to help knock the waste out.
Used a chisel to knock out all the excess material.
One completed. It aint perfect, but "it'll do, pig". I had planned to make these sloped down at an angle but decided against it. I've used hangboards in the past with these sloped holds and I never liked using them. I decided I could add them later if I ended up really missing them. I think the flat top will be more useful for open hand training.
Repeated the knock out on both sides. The left one turned out way better than the right, hence the MySpace angle.
Then I moved on to rounding over the hand holes. I started with a flat file and shaped them close to what you see here.
More flat file work on the other side.
Then I used my orbital sander with 120 grit to finish them off. Used this all over the remaining sharp edges of the front board.
Used my drill and this sanding bit to sand out the edges of the finger holes. I found it in one of the many boxes of tools I inherited from my grandfather. Worked okay, but I think a router or dremel would have been better choice, but I didn't have a bit that would work and no dremel.
Repeated orbital sander with 220 all over, then hand sanded with 220 for the pockets and anywhere the orbital sander couldn't reach.
The final product, minus mounting holes. Used 1" spade bit to create crappy counter sink, then 3/8" drill to go all the way through.
Used some long ass bolts I had and washers to mount this on a cross beam in my garage. Passed the load test! This project was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Already have been using it daily!