Introduction: Rock Climbing/Bouldering Gym

Inspiration/Passion - My son was the inspiration for this project as well as the passion I had for rock climbing when I was younger. As well as my wife that climbed when she was younger and interest in climbing as well. To top it off I love to build stuff.

Tools you'll need

  • Miter saw
  • Circular Saw
  • Drill
  • Sander (I used an orbital sander)
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • T-Bevel
  • 7/16th Woodboring spade drill bit
  • Chalk reel (Chalk line)
  • Pencil

Materials you'll need- Qty and type of lumber will depend on your setup/space you're working with

  • LOTS of plywood
  • 2x6 Lumber
  • 2x4 Lumber
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Sandpaper
  • T-Nuts
  • Climbing Holds

Step 1: Make the Plans

Draw it out on paper and take some measurements.

I used SketchUp (Google app), a free program. You can input all of your plans and measurements of EVERYTHING. You can't see it in the picture attached but all the measurements are there, I removed most of the guidelines to make it cleaner.

Step 2: Take a Before Picture

Simple step I always forget. Always cool to compare before vs. after.

Step 3: Reinforce the Wall

This is an outside wall of my garage and construction is just 2x4s. I put in horizontal supports in every few feet.

  • Measure inside of stud to inside of stud
  • Cut lumber
  • Nail in

Also, that is a portable bench in the middle which is a plywood top.

Step 4: Old Drywall Removal - Reinforce Back Wall

This step was probably not necessary as this wall goes to the inside of my house and the construction was 2x6. Same as previous step, just ripped the drywall down.

Step 5: Ceiling Coming Down for Incline

I put an incline in so the ceiling need to be torn down to put it in.

  • Rip drywall down
  • Secure 2x6s to the 2x10s to my second floor with carriage bolts. Multiple per 2x6.
  • At the bottom of the 2x6 I used joist hangers

We will need an angled cut on the 2x6s at the bottom. This is where the T-Bevel will come into play.

  • You can secure a string where the top of the 2x6 will go and run it down to where the 2x6 will go into the joist hangers.
  • use the T-bevel to get the degree of angle that you should cut the 2x6.

To finish that off I put horizontal supports in as well.

Step 6: Whole Ceiling Comes Down for Reinforcement

This is a very important step. You must ensure that the structure you're building on is strong enough to not only support your weight climbing on it but all of the wood as well. Joist hangers and perpendicular supports are put in.

Screws have good gripping power

Nails have good load strength

Step 7: Reinforce Complete - Insulation

All reinforcement is complete and put the insulation back in the ceiling.

I also put insulation in the side wall where there was none before.

Fire code drywall installed for wall that shares with the inside of the home.

Also, put up 2x4 and 2x6s where all the plywood will secure to. This also gives the bolts for the climbing holds room to be inserted without putting holes in the drywall (which would be bad for fire code, drywall needs to be intact to dramatically increase the time for fire to pass to the inside)

Step 8: NOW the Plywood Fun Begins.....

Drilling holes (7/16th woodboring spade bit is perfect for climbing 3/8th climbing T-Nuts), hammering in T-Nuts, and sanding the plywood down.

Measure and cut your piece of plywood if you cannot use a full sheet.

You can randomly drill holes where ever you want but I like the grid approach. Random will limit where you can put holds I think. If you go the grid approach you can use a chalk line to make a grid and drill holes at every intersection.

Things to keep in mind is to not drill holes where the 2x4s and 2x6s are on the wall where the plywood will be secured, measure around them.

From the edge of the plywood I do 3 inches and then every 6 inches from there. Play with your measurements - nothing here needs to be exact, this is just where you will install your holds. Just do not drill holes too close to the edge of the plywood or it may splinter.

It doesn't hurt to enlist help from family members here to help with sanding and stuff...depending how large your area is this will be pretty time consuming

To recap this big step

  • Measure out the piece of plywood for what you need - cut with circular saw
  • Measure out grid for holes for the T-nuts (you can see my grid better in the angle cut plywood picture)
  • Drill holes at the intersections (drill the holes on the side that is your presentable side)
  • Flip the plywood over and ensure the holes are good circles - some times the spade bits exit without a perfect circle - you can file it a bit
  • Hammer in the T-Nuts.
  • Hang the plywood. I use a combo of some screws and nails. (screws to grip to pull the plywood in, nails for load)

Step 9: Ceiling

One of the hardest parts for sure. You will need a second set of hands for this without a doubt. Throw in some screws to secure and finish it off with nails.

Step 10: Incline - Angled Cuts

You can measure it and hope you get it right the first time OR you can hold the sheet of plywood up while someone traces it. Then cut that traced line if your circular saw.

It may not be the most professional way but I had my wife trace while I held the sheet up there. Cannot argue with the results here...pretty perfect.

Step 11: Progress

Here is some progress as I went. Cutting and adding plywood. Repeating Step 8 for all these. Just different cuts on the plywood.

Step 12: Major Work Complete

I am going to do a final sand on the seams, countersink screws/nails, spackle in some imperfections, final sanding, and paint. I am going to paint it a medium to dark gray. I have all So iLL holds in their lime green.

Step 13: A Place to Crash

I have (2) Magnum Crash Pads that will be used to cover that cold concrete while climbing.

Plywood Contest

Participated in the
Plywood Contest