Gymnastics Bar How-To

8 Feb

Repost: We still get frequent inquiries into the construction of our gymnastics bar, and some readers have asked some very good questions.  Thus, we’ve decided to repost with some added explanation and photos toward the end.  Also, read the comment thread to follow the discussion.

A number of people have inquired about how I constructed the gymnastics bar, so rather than answer each question individually, we decided to devote a post to explaining the gymnastics bar project.

First the materials:

The structure I used requires 6 – 8 ft. 2×4’s.  Head to your local lumberyard or check the rafters in the garage for all that lumber leftover from the last project.

You’ll need a rod for the bar.  I used a fairly heavy duty 1.5 inch dowel rod I’d gotten at a yard sale.  Like most things purchased at a yard sale, it came in handy one day.

To drill the holes in the vertical support beams for the crossbar to fit in to, I used a spade bit attachment on my power drill.  Spade bits come in a variety of sizes, just get one wider than the diameter of the dowel rod.

While you’re at the hardware store getting your spade bit, grab some primer and the paint colors you want for the bar.

…Oh, and some screws, you know, to screw everything together.

The basic procedure:

Disclaimer:  I am assuming a basic knowledge of carpentry when I give these instructions thus they are not as detailed as they could be.  If you need more insight, ask your next door neighbor.

First, make the support beams.  Cut three of the 8 ft. 2×4’s into 4 ft. boards.  You should now have six – 4 ft. boards.  Two of these boards will be your straight vertical supports and the other four boards will be the angled support beams that attach flush with the  edge of the vertical beam and flush with the ground.  See the picture for clarification.  I made these angled cuts with just a skill saw and they are kind of sloppy.  A chop saw is the best tool for the job.

You may now screw these sets together and you will have two structures that look like ‘A’s but with a vertical beam in the center extending beyond the diagonal supports.

In the vertical supports you may now drill your holes near the top of the vertical beam using your spade bit.  Drill the hole at the same height on each support, this ensures your bar will be level.  I didn’t drill the hole all the way through each 2×4 but I did drill about on inch deep into each support.

You should now build your rectangular base that the support beams will screw in to.  I built my base 6 feet long by 4 feet across, thus cutting my boards to these lengths. Screw these boards together into a perfect rectangle.

You may now set your A-shaped support posts onto the rectangular base.  These supports should sit directly across from each other, centered on the 6 foot long sides, thus there will be about 4 feet between them.  Decide exactly where you want these to sit on the base, and mark accordingly before screwing down.  Based on where you decide to set your support posts, you should now be able to calculate the length to cut your bar.  Remember the bar will sit about 1 inch deep into each support post.  Factor this in when measuring the distance across between the posts.  Cut the dowel rod accordingly.  Figure it out.

You should now have made all your necessary measurements and cuts.  You can screw the whole thing together if you want, but you may need to assemble it all in the room you plan to leave it.  it doesn’t fit easily through doors.  And yes, I would even put a few screws through the vertical posts into the ends of the bar, just for good measure. (As you can see, I painted mine before screwing it into the base, no big deal).

DSC_5108

As you can see, I added two screws through the post into each end of the bar. This should keep the bar from twisting. One might also fill the space with wood glue if necessary.

DSC_5110 DSC_5109

The above photos show how I increased lateral support by extending a post out perpendicular to the frame, aligned with the center support.  I then ran a support down diagonally from the center support to the additional board on the ground.

Prime and paint.  (Oh, and you can putty the screw holes is you want, but only if you’re trying to impress your daughter’s friend’s dad.)

Have fun!

13 Responses to “Gymnastics Bar How-To”

  1. Tonia February 8, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Yay, a Jared post! It has been a while since Mike has done a post on Itty Bitty, too. I’m sure all of my one male reader is dyyyying for his next installment! ;) Keep it up, Jared! The gymnastics bar is excellent- perfect for rough-housing indoors during the long winter.

  2. Yoman October 5, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Looks flimsy for side to side stresses. I wouldn’t trust it.

    • Caitlyn October 6, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

      we added lateral side supports and the majority of the stress is from front to back

  3. Candice December 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Hi. Just came across this and we are attempting to make one for my daughter. Can you tell me how you prevented the bar from twisting? Did you screw through the bar? If so how many and where was the placement.

  4. candice December 17, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    We are in the process of making one and wondering you made the actual bar not twist. Did you screw through just the top or screw in several areas. If so, can you give guidance on where the screws go to make sure the bar doesn’t twist? Also, can you explain what you mean by lateral side supports? Could you share an updated picture if it is different from above? This is for my 5 year old and she takes gymnastics. She will be using this bar a lot!

    • Jared December 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      To answer your questions: Yes, I put two screws though each end of the dowel rod where it is supported by the vertical boards. This keeps the bar from twisting. And I’ll post a few more pictures of how I increased the lateral stability of the unit. Thanks for reading!

      • candice December 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

        Thanks a bunch. Looking forward to the pics as we finish up and get ready for Xmas!

      • sweetoeay@comporium.net December 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

        Have you added the additional pictures. I can’t seem to locate them

  5. Candice December 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Thanks for the additional photos. Looks great. We are almost done with ours.

  6. Kaitlyn Aulgur March 29, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    I would love to make one for myself, but what is the weight limit? Would it hold me??

    • Jared March 30, 2013 at 8:54 am #

      Jared who weighs 170 pounds can swing around on it. The front to back motion holds very strong, it is the side to side movements that aren’t as steady. Hope it works for you to make one for yourself!

  7. Linda August 13, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    How much did this approximately cost in supplies?

    • Caitlyn August 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      the bar cost around $21.00
      most items were second hand- the bar was found at a garage sale for $1 and the paint was leftover from other house projects. The biggest purchase was in buying the wood which cost around $20.
      So as you can see this is a ton cheaper than buying a new gymnastics bar online for $250 or whatever. If you try and make your own, good luck- I am sure you will love it! (sorry it took so long to reply to your comment)

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