Here is the story of how I built 2x ~9kg dumbbells during the COVID-19 lockdown to alleviate my sadness of lifting weights and feeling cool… FOR £36?!
I was N O T going to pay the absolutely ludicrouspricesthat shops and people were charging for weights... (see the pictures in this step for some deals during lockdown)

I didn’t realise how much of my sense of wellbeing was tied to getting in the gym and pushing/pulling heavy weights till I sweat and feeling that characteristic pump. I got rid of any home gym equipment years ago (I had a multi-gym at one point, and then a bench with weights) - all I had left was some resistance bands and a single 5kg dumbbell.

When the lockdown kicked in and I couldn’t go to the gym anymore, I put together some bodyweight routines which included the resistance bands. They were okay. I felt a good pump after the session but I just didn’t feel that same “cool” feeling of working out after. Very subjective, but nonetheless true to me. I actually stopped working out as I didn’t like how it felt anymore (but didn’t stop eating as if I was lifting hard and heavy, and ended up putting on some extra kilos).

After inhaling all in vision for 4 weeks, I decided I’d done enough damage to my goals, and I will take action. I sat on the edge of my bed for one hour in front of my whiteboard, notebook in hand, staring intently and dreaming up a solution. And my god, I am proud of this one…


8x Bricks with holes in (2kg each) - £0.56/brick = £4.48 [Wickes]

2x 1.22m Cold pressed steel metal tubing 25mm dia - £10.78 each = £21.56 [B&Q]

1x M4 1m Steel threaded rod = £1.55 [B&Q]

1x Pack of M4 hex nuts = £2.10 [B&Q]

1x 32m T-Rex Duct table = £6.30 [B&Q]


Tape measure

(Optional) Dremel

Power drill

M4 drill bit & centre punch


Safety goggles (don’t want metal in your eye)

Permanent marker


Adjustable spanner

Workbench with clamps

Step 1: Cut Metal Rods to Size

Measure and mark 400mm sections on the metal rods

Cut with a hacksaw, or with Dremel, make sure to use goggles

I know it feels macho and cool to go straight into an easy task like this without protective equipment, but I care about your eyes and want you to retain your vision as long as possible

Step 2: Slide Rods Into Bricks and Mark Drill Lines

Slide the sections of the rods through the holes on the bricks, like the above pictures

This will ensure that when it comes to assembly later that the holes are ...bedded in…? I can’t think of a better term, but yeah the rods will slide in easily during final assembly

While the rods are in, take the permanent marker and draw a vertical line about 5mm away from where the brick ends on either side on top of the metal rod. This will mark where we need to drill the holes

Remove top rod from bricks, ready for drilling

Step 3: Drill Holes for Threaded Rods

Centre punch the lines across one metal rod (as best as you can in the same horizontal line)

Goggles on, please

Drill holes at each centre punch

Be sure to drill the holes into the rod at the same angle (if you want to keep the final dumbbell neat, otherwise it’ll still work but will look a bit odd)

These holes will be where the threaded rods will be placed to stop the bricks crushing our hands, or feet (by falling off)

The use for these holes is shown in the picture

Insert the drilled rod into the top set of holes in the brick
Keep the un-drilled rod into the bottom set of holes in the brick

Pass the drill bit through the top hole (as a pathfinder) and drill concentric holes in the bottom rod

Step 4: Prepare and Insert Threaded Rods

Use the permanent marker to mark the threaded rod with 8x 10mm increments (4 for each dumbbell)

Cut with hacksaw or dremel

Slide a set of 400m rods into 4 bricks and spare the bricks so they rest in their final positions
Take a 10mm threaded rod and screw an M4 nut onto it

Slide into one of the two inside holes on the rod(s). When the threaded rod passes through to the other side, add ONE more M4 nut and carry on threading it through.

Just before it enters the top of the second rod, add another M4 nut, and finally again when the rod passes through the other side of the second rod.

The two inside nuts should keep the rods from caving in

Repeat the above for the other inside rod holes
This should now form the area where the dumbbells will be held - final result shown in picture

Step 5: The Dumbbell Takes Form

Repeat Step 4 for the outside holes

The bricks (weights) should now be held into place

There might be a bit of play in the bricks, but this can be solved with tape

The play hasn’t negatively affected my usage In fact, it adds to the cool factor because it sounds like the weights at a gym with plates moving around on the bar (am I just rationalising this flaw to be a good thing?)

Step 6: Start Making Them Look Pretty

Wrap the bricks in T Rex tape to keep them together as a single mass (I think this adds stability in handling to the final product)

Step 7: Finish Making Them Pretty

Add extra black tape on the bottom and top for extra pizzazz

Step 8: Verify

Put each dumbbell on a scale and be proud that you didn't pay stupid prices for weights

Step 9: ​Pump the Weights and Feel Like You Again


Exert your will on the world, it's the only way.