Introduction: $4 Handheld Muscle Roller
I recently ran a half marathon that required participants to pick up their packet and bib number at an expo where various vendors were selling wares/giving out free samples/etc. My fellow runner who I was attending with was drawn into buying a handheld version of every runner's favorite post race therapy: a foam roller. She paid $35 for hers (seen in the image above; believe it or not, that's not actually her though), which was the cheapest one offered. Depending on size and features, they ran all the way up to double that.
After making her purchase, she excitedly showed it to me and told me "It only cost $35!" My response was simply "...really?" I had no doubt that it worked quite well after trying it out for myself, but I thought it was ridiculous to charge that much for one. I promptly told her I could make one for $10.
I was so, so wrong. It actually only cost me $4.
Step 1: Materials
1/2" PVC pipe (2 ft) You can purchase either a full 10ft section or a precut section. I went with the precut section because 1) I am lazy and 2) it was only $1
3/4" PVC Couplers (x10) That is not a typo. You need 3/4" couplers so that they slide freely over the 1/2" shaft. Home Depot sells "Contractor Packs" of 10 for $2.
3/4" to 1/2" Reducing Tee (x2) Make sure to get the one with the 3/4" ends at the top of the T and the 1/2" at the bottom so that the bottom end connects to the shaft to make a handle. Should cost $0.50 apiece.
Optional: 3/4" Caps (x4) If you want to make your roller look fancier/cost more, you can buy 4 of these for about $0.80 a piece. Considering the cost of the project as a whole, I don't think they are worth it/necessary since it is only an aesthetic improvement.
Hacksaw/PVC Pipe Cutter
Rubber Mallet for Optional Improvement #1
Plastic Spray Paint for Optional Improvement #2
Step 2: Preparation
There is very little to do pre-assembly for this project. Most of it depends on what decisions you made purchasing wise.
First, attach one of the Ts onto the shaft. Put all 10 of the couplers onto the shaft in order to see how long you need to cut the shaft.
Second, if need be, mark the shaft where you want to cut it. Remember to save room for second T. You also want approximately a quarter of an inch of extra space to allow the couplers to move up and down the shaft.
Third, cut the shaft to size.
Step 3: Assembly
Assemble the parts as shown.
It is super easy. Essentially you just need to put one T on the shaft, then thread the shaft through all the couplers, and then finally put the other T on to "trap" the couplers onto the shaft.
See the picture below if you need help.
Step 4: Optional Improvements
If you have an extra few bucks to spend, you have a few options.
Optional Improvement #1
My girlfriend decided the Ts with open ends (ie, no plugs) looked ugly, so she decided I needed to plug the ends. I simply bought some plugs and used my rubber mallet to hammer them into the ends as shown in the photo.
Optional Improvement #2
To make it look more like the "official" product that I am too cheap/practical to buy, you could spray paint the handles. Personally, I'm a man of utility and didn't feel it necessary to paint my handles.
Step 5: Roll Your Sore Muscles
And there you go. You just saved over $30 by taking 5 minutes of out your day to build your own muscle roller. Now go run a few miles and then roll out your sore muscles!