Introduction: Inversion Table, Frank'D From an Old Ironing Board & Other Odd Stuff

About: I love to think around corners, approach problems with a blank slate and use intuition and my godlike magic powers to come up with solutions. If you want the impossible, just tell me that it can't be done.

This 'ible is entered in the Redneck Contest and the Holiday Gifts Contest.  If you like this, your vote, comments and feedback are welcome.  Thank you!!

Please note:  there was nothing rational or linear about this project...therefore, that's pretty much how it must be explained.  If you have trouble following this ible, try to go through it all and get all of the overall ideas down before getting bogged down by might make more sense then. 
(no guarantees)  Good Luck!

For this Christmas, my family decided that we would limit spending to no more than $20 per person, and try to be more thoughtful and creative in our gift-giving.   This was a radical change in the way we had always done it, but I welcomed the challenge and used it as an opportunity to spend time in one of my favorite hobbies...creating a Frankenstein out of spare parts around my shop.

My brother has back trouble; earlier this year he had borrowed an inversion table from a friend, and found that it greatly relieved his discomfort.  So, for Christmas, my gift to my brother was to be an inversion table, using whatever I had on-hand, and spending no more than the allotted twenty bucks. 

I started combing free ads and asking around b/c originally I thought that a discarded bench from a weight set would be a great backboard...and it may have worked, but there were none to be found right away.  I began to fear that I would have to build a proper backboard, which would have been fairly easy, but would have violated my own skewed rules about Frank'n stuff, so I just thought and waited...and it was then- visiting my mother- in my old bedroom (which is now a catch-all for housework), with my head on my hand, thinking....that I realized I was staring right at the solution:  Mom's ancient ironing board!! 

After shopping for a good one at every thrift store around, then finally giving up and hitting "you-know-where" for a new one, I realized that a little diplomacy would be in order....New ironing boards are much more mobile and lightweight (see: Chintzy) than my Mother's.  The conversation started with .. "Mooom??  How would you like a new ironing board, something a little easier on you to move around?"  {sometimes, I swear you can watch horns grow on me}...  but everything ended up okay in the end.  I got the old, beaten-up monstrosity, and my mother got a new tool to work with. 

K- that's the story behind it...thanks for caring so much.  :) 

Now, on to the making of the monster.....

ooh ooh---the group of pics below are not part of the final design,...just pics of ideas & dead ends.  You would find that out after you read the following paragraph, but i thought I'd try to let you know's u don't get flusterated wit me.

Step 1: Step 1: What You Need.. (to Know)...sorta..

I seriously doubt that anyone else is going to have the same scrap materials that I had to work with, much less the same 30 year old ironing board.  I'll minimally cover the details in that regard, just so you'll know....but what YOU will need, should you decide to make such a monster, is a lot of imagination....and the rest of the basic info which I learned en-route myself. 

This first set of pics is mostly what made up my initial ideas/attempts....and with some bass-ackward engineering, they all would have worked.  ** Initially, I wanted to make this thing to do double duty - to be interchangeable b/t inversion & ironing.  This, too, is possible, but will be a horrible pain in the rear to make it,  having met my standard (which was "just getting far enough along with the idea to understand how it would work, and that i positively could do it if I really really wanted to" -- (that's my standard, when the going gets tough)  ...anyway, I knew how to make it work from there, so  I stopped the 1st prototype, b/c   #1- my brother has an ironing board, and   (B) - I didn't want to work 13 extra hours to prove a point that no one else cares about but me. 

So, if you're gonna do this,  .. well, .. good freakin' luck to you.  Lemme know how it goes. 

Here's what you will need;
  ¿ - information, unless you've already designed an inversion table before.  I'll start step 2 with the info.

             - An Ironing Board, or a big board, or a weight-set table, or ..u know...sumthin...

stuff to shore it all up, anchor, bolt, screw, wedge. zip-tie, drill, nail,  superglue, dowel, duct tape, jam, jamb, jar, jostle, force, curse, cry, hammer clamp and pray ...whatever it needs, and I'm sorry I can't be more specific, but you'll see what I did, and why you'll just have to figger it out fer yourself when you get your own stuff.

---------------------and that's pretty much all ya need.  @*one of these days I am going to create a font for sarcasm*@-------------------------

Step 2: Time to Do the Can Skip This Part If You Have Great Reflexes.

Here are things that you must know, find out, decipher, figure out, and keep in mind as you construct ::

It's easiest if your end product stands about 6' (six feet) high, overall.  This is assuming that this isn't being made for giants or little people -   that's roughly what my board ended up being after moving everything works for heights from 5'4" to 6'4". 

You can then find the geometric center- ish part of the board....
and then put the board on a pipe, and note its center of mass.
Hope that those two places are pretty close.  If not, you may (or may not, ) have to add weights to it later.
Either way, you're going to have to choose a pivot's how mine worked out:
      The final setup ended up being right at 6' tall.- The table top it's mounted to, (for testing, in the pics) is 34" tall.  I found the physical center at around 40" from the bottom, with it standing on the ground, and placed the pivot at 42" from the bottom.  I wish I had gone another inch higher, but it worked out.  (WHY---?? --  well, you gotta keep THIS in mind while you keep the Other stuff in mind...  It's best if the table rests at an angle that makes it more comfortable to mount and adjust into the table, without being so far back that it feels sketchy or you're way off balance as you're getting on.  As it worked out, kinda on it's own, this one is at about 25 degrees from the vertical, and it's about perfect.  AND-- where you put the pivot needs to rotate so that the top, when inverted, comes about 3-4" off the floor.  You can mess around with the mounting height a little to make that happen, as long as you have enough board to allow you to make those compensations.  ALSO.  If you're going to put some kind of heavy duty foot mounts or shoes, you're going to have to make allowances for it, either on the pivot point, or other methods....Honestly, a good strap over the shoes, behind the heels and crossbar, then run under the foot stand and tightened back over the top is very secure and comfortable, and is of negligible weight. .. your call.)   Oh & you're going to have to add braces to an ironing board, no matter how heavy duty it is, .. and i put a solid wooden dowel through both the leg and the foot rest... In my case, these two adjustments more or less completely offset each other. seems like a headache.  When I do this kind of stuff, I usually get by with going on my instinct.  I actually didn't measure anything on this (except for the centers) until I was finished.  I did make my marks and estimates based on A) holding it up to my son's waist at what I thought would be the pivot point, and B)  whether it still LOOKED like it would work.  You can use any kind of  math you want, though...

So - 6 feet-ish tall from top to bottom is good.. get your COM within 2, preferably 1 inch of your geometric center, or be ready to add weights OR shift the body's position up or down to compensate... plan to put your pivot point at around 39-41"  (like i said, mine was at 42", but it would be a little easier to balance it if it had been closer to 40")  ...  mounting that pivot at around 34" will give you a range of something like 21-27 degrees off the vertical for mounting, (you'll get that range IF you make the assembly adjustable for height from the footrest -- I'll show you in the next step, how I made this one adjustable, but if you end up with something that's just too hard to make that work, you can forget it, and do it with either 1)placing weights on the underside OR -1.5)  Making the pivot point adjustable  (I wouldn't even try that, myself)  .. I'm sure there are hundreds of other ways..springs, counterweights and magic not disincluded, .. but you're on your own to get it all adjusted right.

Step 3: Part 3: -or- Hitting Stuff to Make It Work :))

From this point, you could most likely just look at this thing, and see what i did, but I'll cover it as best i can...most of this won't apply to anyone but me, ever, .. but perhaps the pseudo-logic that I used to get there will help someone else on another problem one day.

     With all the above info to keep in mind, I started breaking and building>   The legs came off, (carefully...don't break anything you don't have to,.. you'll either weaken the board or screw yourself out of useable material..  I wasn't going to need the leg locks or slide assembly and a couple of other things that were in my way, so I removed them  (if they'd helped with the boards sturdiness at all, I would've tried to leave them on.)

    It will be easier to just point out what I did on the pics from here on out, I think...  so you know, the wood pieces are leftover tongue&groove hardwood flooring.  I couldn't have asked for more flexibility, strength and versatility from anything I've ever jacked up before.  Perfect fit for the 'Stein....  all the round tubing has 1" OD wooden dowel (closet rod) driven into it.  It was a super tight fit, and will hold up more than enough weight to be secure.  -- uhhmmm,   and when I removed the legs, it just worked out that the single leg was in the back (now top) set of sliding brackets BUT... the crossbars were exactly the same size & made of iron...& welded to the leg pipe - so I just moved the single leg to the other set of tracks, which gave me a great way to be able to adjust the height from the bottom.  As you will see, that made the footrest waaaay too long, but (thank God for the old-school ways) I simply just removed the footpiece, cut off the overage, filled the both pipes with dowels and put it WELL & FIRMLY back together. (This is the piece you'll be hanging off of, remember...u can't do this too well...)

Step 4: Part 4: Willing It to Work....

You see my setup for testing..that part with it pivoting on the workbench on one side & supported by straps on the other???   Ya, that's not for consumer use.  It sways...a lot.  - I just did it that way b/c It's for my brother, and it could be supported any number of ways, so I thought that upon first seeing this, it wouldn't lock him into just one way of thinking about it.  Pretty much anything, any configuration of a thousand different things, would allow this thing to only need something that you can lay the inner, central pivot bar into securely, and at the right height, and you can slide the table onto it, strap in, and TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN ::)))

For the record,. this thing works awesomely, and feels solid.  It held me up, @ 190lbs, while I picked up two 20lb weights for a total of 230 lbs....with no stress or creaking, or any problems of any kind.  I was able to balance and move the table into position with my arms, and hang upside down comfortably, and without concern. 

I don't have any pics of it in use at the moment, b/c I delivered it to my brother's house.  I will get a few action shots in the next week or so, and update asap.

If you like it, let me know.  I can live off of attention.  If you build one, pls send me a pic.  And if you need help...LMGTFY.  Happy Frank'n'ing  !!

Step 5: Part 5: the Reckoning

All told, once I decided how I wanted to build this, I probably worked on it for 3-4 hours.  I spent a good part of 2 more days trying to make it do more before I decided to let 'er go the way she wanted to.  Given my new knowledge, and assuming i had the materials on-hand again, I could build this in about 45 minutes.

It weighs surprisingly less than you would think - probably around 20 lbs, and can literally be stored behind a door or curtain until it is being used.  Actually, it's less space-invasive than commercial inversion tables.

All materials were pieces and scraps I had around the shop, just for Franking stuff,.. save for the ironing board.  I did spend $14+tax to replace my Mother's old ironing board with a technologically-advanced-yet-overall-inferior model.  She used it b4 Christmas, and kinda wanted her old one back....she did finally accept that it was too late, once she saw "the monster"...I doubt I'll ever get her to trade with me again.

On the bright side - my brother reports that his back is feeling AWESOME... so, there's that.

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