Introduction: 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

Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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.

Comments

author
teveman made it!(author)2016-02-25

The second link to "More information" in making hand holds at the end of step 5 has been moved to: https://makingclimbingholds.wordpress.com/. Thanks.

author
giike3 made it!(author)2012-07-08

nic3 work I am going to work to make one

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mwaller1 made it!(author)2011-06-05

i think your list is off a tab... beer comes closer to first! lol.. but all in all.. i like this website so far!

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rck_mtn_climber made it!(author)2009-08-17

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.

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FunkNattidelic made it!(author)2009-06-04

I just went rock climbing with my school today somewhere in Hamilton, and I loved it. I will totally try and build this.

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Jack+Attack made it!(author)2007-07-10

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.

author
cphillips made it!(author)2007-07-10

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).

author
Jack+Attack made it!(author)2007-07-10

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 :)

author
gmoon made it!(author)2007-07-10

Who's negative here, self-appointed ClimbingExpertDealWithIT ? Instructable comments aren't limited just to experts! Anyone with a common-sense question or comment should be welcome. Too bad you didn't choose to inform rather than flame...

Besides, indirectly he has a point--most home walls are set back at -15-90 degrees (overhanging.) This one would get boring, fast. But that was his choice--maybe the builder has kids, etc.?

Also, it's a shame the shelf framework was already built. The frame is such an important part of building a home wall, it's as if half the instructable were left out...

Still, he's getting my "They Like It" vote--anyone who includes a 'crack machine' (even a short one) in a home wall rocks (pun intended)...

author
cphillips made it!(author)2007-07-10

Also, re: Framing. I agree, but framing is a general purpose construction skill, so I'm sure there's plenty of other places to learn about that. This site, for instance, has a pretty good discussion of the climbing-wall specifics for framing.

author
gmoon made it!(author)2007-07-10

When you build the roof, you can add a bit of that to the instructable, that'll do it. Adding the link will help, too. Re: trad --best thing is to start climbing with someone who already has a rack. Then just start buying one cam at a time. If you can't find anyone, just get together with a buddy, and start buying complementary gear. Of course, if you buy everything on sale like me, you'll have gear from several different companies and it's a bit confusing (i've got cams from wild country, metolius, B.D., DMM, etc.) And we started with only three cams, but enough passive gear (hexes, nuts, etc.) so you don't need a massive rack, if you start well below your T.R. limit...

author
cphillips made it!(author)2007-07-10

Good suggestion about going climbing with a buddy who already has a rack -- I'm doing that today :).

author
cphillips made it!(author)2007-07-10

Haha. Maybe a flame, but an appreciated one. Every non-climber we show the wall to makes this same damn criticism. Even in a small space you can make creative and challenging problems with surprising diversity. We do plan on extending the wall to the ceiling and adding an inclined section on the wall to the right, but, we don't have much money or time so we're still in the planning phase on that one. We were happy to get the first section up and start to play with it. Of course, I'll expand the instructable with the details of roof and angled-wall construction when we do that a bit later.

author
macdadyabc made it!(author)2007-07-10

so basically, you can climb about a foot and a half off the floor? definitely sounds worth it.

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sgt.paper made it!(author)2007-07-09

in my fammily a woody means your horny

author

nieve much?

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Mitten made it!(author)2007-07-09

They didnt teach us this in highschool!

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Bio: Just another geeky hacker who loves beer and climbing and math and science and girls.
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