Give Yourself a Woody (Build a Home Climbing Wall)

Picture of Give Yourself a Woody (Build a Home Climbing Wall)
Known in the climbing community as a "woody", a (usually indoor) climbing wall constructed with plywood and bolted on holds, isn't too difficult to make. We made one in a basement for about seventy dollars and change (which we raised by selling other peoples' things on craigslist).

Things you'll need:

  • Some 3/4" plywood
  • Some 2x4s (or 2x6 or 2x8) for framing and such
  • 2" (or so) wood/drywall screws
  • 3/8" t-nuts
  • 3/8" hex cap bolts
  • Drill, hammer
  • Something soft to work as a crash-pad
  • Beer
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Step 1: Clean

Picture of Clean
The first step is to choose a location. For us, the perfect location also was so cluttered with things, that you couldn't see the floor. So, for two days (and many beers) we cleaned. We carted away junk, created a pile of things to sell, and reorganized things that needed to be kept. In the process, we found many cool treasures.

Step 2: Framing

Picture of Framing
The wall you choose to build on needs to be framed well. It will need to support dynamic loads. Lucky for us, this wall, which was being used as shelves was built to be load-baring. A couple of nails here and there, and a a board along the bottom to complete the frame, and it was good enough to use.

Step 3: Prepare and Install Plywood

Picture of Prepare and Install Plywood
You will need to figure out how much plywood you need. The right plywood is 3/4" and the cheapest is just fine. We didn't have much luck locating used plywood, so we bought it new for $20 per sheet.

Next, you must determine how many t-nuts you need. Generally, about 70 per sheet is a good guess. They can be placed in arbitrary patterns (diamond and square are common). However, placing them randomly and then eyeballing for uniformity works just great. When placing them, try to keep them around 8 inches apart and 4 inches from the edges or from any structural boards you'll be nail/screwing to. Since our wall was used as shelves there were lots of boards to avoid.

The t-nuts are 3/8" inner diameter and 7/16" outer diameter. This means you'll need 3/8" bolts and you'll want to drill 7/16" holes to pound them into. Hammering them in is pretty straight-forward.

Step 4: Hang the Wall

Picture of Hang the Wall
2" self-tapping wood or drywall screws work well for hanging the sheets. If you're having troubles, drill pilot holes.

If you want a crack, build in vertical reinforcements using sections of 2x6 (or 2x8, 2x10, ...). These will have alot of force on them, so make sure they are very rigidly installed. For "hand" size jamming, 1 7/8" to 2" is just about right.

Step 5: Add holds, climb

Picture of Add holds, climb
You'll need to make or buy some holds. Store-bought resin holds cost about $4-$5 each. You can make your own a variety of ways. You can make resin holds using a mold (as is described in this instrucable), you can drill 3/8" holes in rocks (use a masonry bit, add water as you drill, some will break, some will work, don't bother with quartzy rocks), or get crafty with wood. Or, you can use just about any damn thing you can find and drill a 3/8" hole in (a drill-press is your friend).

More information on making holds here and here.

For a crash-pad, we used an unused mattress. If you have a crash-pad already, for bouldering, use that. You can probably make one of these too.
giike33 years ago
nic3 work I am going to work to make one
mwaller14 years ago
i think your list is off a tab... beer comes closer to first! lol.. but all in all.. i like this website so far!
I made my own wall with my dad (not following the instructable). It's 12 feet high 8 feet wide and the top 4 feet are at an overhang.
I just went rock climbing with my school today somewhere in Hamilton, and I loved it. I will totally try and build this.
Jack Attack8 years ago
cool i've been working on building my own for a while now to train on (i'm a competitive climber with usa climbing and i needed a way to fit in more training). A wall like this would get boring pretty quick and you would get all the training you could out of it after a month or so. it would be much better with even a small overhang. mine does not have an overhang but it is on three walls and the ceiling, so i guess that counts. what sort of climbing do you do? i mostly do competitive indoor climbing but sometimes i do a bit of top roping with my friends at the local crag.
cphillips (author)  Jack Attack8 years ago
Yeah, (as noted below) we're planning on expanding to a second wall, which will be built at an angle, and also a roof. The roof section will actually be pretty easy since we can just screw plywood to the first-floor joists. The crack will get expanded into the roof-section too, which will make it really useful (pullups on jams, etc.). Other things not pictured that we've sense added: a little beater computer running linux with some speakers so we can play music over the network, and a bomber pullup bar made with chains and steel pipe. As far as climbing, I'm trying to get into trad. right now, but the gear is so damn expensive. I've been doing sport climbing (leading 5.9ish) for a couple of years, and top-roping and bouldering longer than that. I have a hard time convincing myself to pay inflated indoor gym prices, so I climb almost exclusively outside. Especially this time of year, when the weather is great (in Portland, OR anyway).
cool, i agree that climbing has become amazingly expensive, no matter how you climb. climbing shoes are about $100, a good rope for $200, crash pad for $200, even holds for a small woodie can add up really quickly. and then you have medical bills for when you try to save a few bucks and the "new" rope you bought on ebay snaps :)
macdadyabc8 years ago
so basically, you can climb about a foot and a half off the floor? definitely sounds worth it.
Timmyd_28 years ago
sgt.paper8 years ago
in my fammily a woody means your horny
nieve much?
Mitten8 years ago
They didnt teach us this in highschool!