Instructables

Freestanding Indoor Rock Climbing Wall For $150

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I've recently gotten into rock climbing and while pull-up bars and hangboards are nice, I've really wanted a more realistic training routine. While I wanted to build my own climbing wall, I didn't think my landlord would be too happy with me anchoring it into the wall and ceiling of my apartment. Due to this fact, I had to come up with a slightly different design than most home walls. My basic plan evolved around the outdoor wall I found here - http://www.chockstone.org/techtips/woodie.htm - though I did have to make some modifications due to two constraints:

1 - It had to fit inside my tiny apartment
2 - It had to be freestanding

This is the story of my bouldering wall, it is an epic tale of trial, struggle and triumph.
 
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Step 1: Materials

These are the materials I used. While I'm no engineer, I feel comfortable that they can withstand any load I or my roommates can exert. I didn't use the same materials as the first plan I saw and unless you build the same exact wall, you probably shouldn't either.


Materials:

(1) Case of beer (You may want more, I can't say that it will aid in construction but it'll sure make it more interesting. For instance while hanging the joists we dropped one of the sides and nearly took out our TV)

(2) Sheets of 3/4" Plywood (3/4 RTD SHTG) @ $17.97 = $35.94
(1) Additional 1' by 8' strip of plywood for the top portion (salvaged from scrap bin) - $4.01

(12) 2'x4'x104-5/8" Studs @ $3.12 = $37.44

(1) Box of 2" Drywall Screws - $6.47

(1) Box of 1.25" Drywall Screws - $6.47

(1) Box of 3" Drywall Screws - Leftover from another project

(40) Climbing Holds with Hardware (ideally you would have around 32 per sheet of plywood) I bought mine here as I've bought some holds from him in the past and have been very satisfied with both the price and quality - http://rockymountainclimbinggear.com/id71.html - $40.00

 Extra T-Nuts (typically home walls have a t-nut density of 2.25 per square foot) The holds came with just enough hardware for them so if you want more configuration options you'll need to buy about 100 more t-nuts

(12) Plate Connectors @ $0.76 = $9.12

(4) 90 Degree Connectors (3" Angle) @ $1.23 = $4.92

(8) 2x4 Joist Hangers @ $0.75 = $6.00

Total Materials Cost = $150.37


Tools:

- Electric Drill

- Phillips Head Bit

- 7/16" Wood Boring Bit

- 3/8" Hex Wrench

- Tape Measure

- Protractor (or other angle making aid)

- Saw (preferably a power saw, hand saws are only cool for about 10 minutes)



snowbirdling9 months ago
This is amazing! I am going to have to encourage my husband to build this for himself in our apartment. Thank you so much for this tutorial, and great job!
Major props on this build, man. I work for www.spectrumsports.com and we specialize in building and renting mobile rock walls. I must say this is a brilliant idea and so cheap! What an awesome way to spend $150.
mga12 (author)  SpectrumSports1 year ago
Thanks, it's much appreciated!
I was wondering how you got your plywood so cheap. A 4ft x 8ft sheet costs around $35 from where I've looked. Is your's a slightly smaller dimension or did you get it from a cheaper store? I'm trying to cut costs on my wall. Thanks!
mga12 (author)  fireblast_12121 year ago
I remember when I bought the materials my dad thought it odd that I got the plywood for so cheap. I'm not sure of the reason for the price difference. For what it's worth, a friend of mine built his wall with 1/2 inch OSB and it has fared well for over a year.
psheehy2 years ago
is that a bamboo bike frame in the corner?
mga12 (author)  psheehy1 year ago
Yup!
Have you had any trouble with it falling forward if you get your momentum going to strong back, like on a final top out? I am making plans to build one and was wondering if maybe I should make the supports a bit angled and not straight down, just wanted to see if you have had any problems yet? Thanks!! Love the wall all the same!
mga12 (author)  timothy.j.neill2 years ago
I have had the back come off the ground with more powerful dynos to the top but haven't had any problems with it actually tipping over. A buddy of mine who built the wall extended the sides to come out further and prevent this. If I were to build it again I would consider doing that as well but I think I'd have to have to work on my dynos a lot more for this to become a serious issue.
Would 12mm mdf be ok for something like this?
I couldn't tell you for sure. My buddy built an identical wall a few months ago using OSB and hasn't had any problems so far.
ernestmac132 years ago
I would like to build a wall that I could have in my back yard, I would like to make it so, it could unfold & be like 12feet, & when closed, it would a. be protected from the environment, & b. could act as an 8ft climbing wall, like those used in boot camp. Unfortunately, 8 ft is probably the height limit, as the co op& city I live in wont allow fences etc over 8 ft. I'm sure paining the outside of the wall could protect it from the elements.
mga12 (author)  ernestmac132 years ago
It sure would be nice to have a taller wall but I find that running laps on an 8 foot wall gives a pretty good workout.
I'm thinking of building a shack for my back yard, finding someway to incorporate a climbing wall on one side might be a possibility. If I make the roof slanted rather than pitched, I could take the higher side & extend it further, in order to cover a climbing wall & make it possible to climb horizontally as well as vertically.
Hey man really love this wall. I want to build the exact one you have here. Do you happen to have the exact mesurments you used? I want to build this wall exactly the way you have shown. So exact mesurements would be greatly appreciate! Thanks!
mga12 (author)  primobiker4242 years ago
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I kinda just winged it but the bottom 2x4 of the triangle sides measures 4 feet long on the top and 50 inches on the bottom. I cut the vertical 2x4 an inch lower than my ceiling so that I could move it around without scraping the ceiling. I then lined up the two at a 90 degree angle and eyeballed the angles on the third 2x4 (the hypotenuse). I hope this helps!
Nice wall! I love that it's moveable. I built one in my basement about 6 or 7 years ago, and back then, it was hard to find info like this on the web. Thanks for posting. Here's a pic of my wall, I lost about a foot of height when I put in the drop tile ceiling though. (my girls have now taken over the room as a "hang out" room for them) but the wall is still there.
http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/313827_2437495492021_1090746934_32850530_728927533_n.jpg
mga12 (author)  Scratchthejeepguy2 years ago
Wow, great wall! I bet your girls don't know they have some world class bouldering right above their heads!
80$man2 years ago
mga12 (read below!)
Very nice! Might attempt one myself, finger boards just don't do it anymore...

One thing, I am concerned for your safety:
[ it might just be the perspective, but the uprights look a bit thin, you used rigid connections, the plans used pinned connection (bolted), the plans wall incline angle looks less steep] ... but I will elaborate:

Buckling might become an issue, especially if your timbers are slightly bent or the ridig end connections are displaced relative to each other: the uprights become prone to buckling failure! The loading of the wall’s weight causes issues in your timber straightness. Knowing that as you progress in climbing, you will be doing more extreme/dynamic movements like dynos/leaps/jumps (jargon varies), thus the forces on your structure might become critical. Even if you weight very little, the dynamic forces you can generate may exceed the critical buckling load, especially if the structure skews with age. Rather adjust the structure now, than hurt yourself later. If the uprights show any sights of flexture/ bending, I would thicken them immediately.

Enjoy and remember to warm up!
mga12 (author)  80$man2 years ago
Thanks for the concern. I definitely understand where you're coming from but it seems to be holding fine. We've been climbing on it for close to a month now with no noticeable deformation of the uprights though we do tend to get a bit dyno-happy from time to time. I've periodically run a level along them and they are still as straight and vertical as ever. I will continue to keep an eye on them though and will certainly beef them up if I see any signs of warping.

Thanks!
80$man mga122 years ago
Good good, just want you to be on the safe side! I have hurt myself on badly built climbing walls: grips breaking/turning, dodgy pading, splinters and cracked panels ect. So stay safe, warm up, get strong & enjoy! Cheers!
zazenergy2 years ago
what a great idea! How long did it take to put this together?
mga12 (author)  zazenergy2 years ago
Thanks, it's hard to say exactly how long it took. We worked on free nights over the course of two weeks or so.
foobear2 years ago
cool. I have long thought about doing something like this, but I was going to put the climbing bits straight into the wall of the bedroom, so you could let go and fall down onto the mattress for lolz. This is even better because you can take it apart and put it away and still have a nice smooth wall. I will very likely try doing something much like this. thank you for this good idea.
How cool...My friend is the one who makes those climbing holds. I remember when he started that company.
siafulinux2 years ago
This is pretty cool. Don't have space inside my home for this, but maybe up one of my outside walls.