Intro: Adjustable Monkey Bars
These adjustable monkey bars are easy to make, and are a lot of fun for the whole family!
Step 1: Make Monkey Bars
This step is fairly straight-forward. I bought the yellow rungs online and simply mounted them to two 8' long 2x4s with the provided hardware. The rungs are spaced 12 inches apart. To make sure the rungs were perpendicular to the 2x4s, I positioned each 2x4 next to each other, with the ends aligned, and marked each piece of lumber every 12 inches. I then positioned the rungs on the marks, and fastened them to the wood. I sanded the corners of the wood to reduce the likelihood of splinters.
The assembled monkey bars is quite light and relatively easy to move and mount.
Step 2: Find Location to Hang Monkey Bars
These monkey bars can be mounted in a variety of ways. Perhaps they can be hung beneath a 2nd story deck, or maybe you can build simple supports for each end. I chose to hang the monkey bars from the deck of my treehouse (Instructable Epic Treehouse).
Step 3: Hanging the Monkey Bars
To hang the monkey bars from the treehouse deck, I used four 4x4 posts. The length of each of these posts depends on how high or low you'd like the bars; I opted to hang them so that my 10-year-old can barely grab them when they are in their lowest position (more on that later).
I mounted the bottom part of two 4x4s to each 2x4 of the monkey bars (one 4x4 on the front of the right 2x4, one on the back of the right 2x4, on on the front of the left 2x4, and one on the back of the left 2x4). Importantly, I used one bolt at each of these connections. This single bolt allows the 2x4s to pivot with respect to the 4x4 for adjustability. The bolts are 6" long and are galvanized (due to contact with the pressure treated 4x4 posts), and are secured with a nut and washer. Another important tip is the position the bolt heads on the inside of the 2x4s and secure the bolts on the outside. This reduces the likelihood that someone's hand will get snagged on the end of the bolt.
The top part of the 4x4s are mounted to the joists of the treehouse deck. These are the same 6" galvanized bolts, nuts and washers as I used for the bottom part of the 4x4s. However, the holes I pre-drilled in the 4x4s and the joists are slightly oversized to allow the bolts to be removed relatively easily - during adjustment.
Step 4: Adjustability
The height and slope of these monkey bars are adjustable.
Each 4x4 post has an additional hole for height adjustment. The front end of the monkey bars can be at a high height, while the back end of the monkey bars can be at a low height - and vice versa. This makes the monkey bars either uphill or downhill. Also, both ends can be at the same height, allowing for high or low monkey bars.
To adjust the height of the front or back end, you remove the two bolts extending through the 4x4 and the joist. This should be relatively easy since the holes are oversized; however a hammer may be necessary to force the bolt out of the hole. Ideally you'd have one person holding the monkey bars while the other person removes and inserts the two bolts, but I generally make the adjustments alone while positioning the monkey bars on my shoulders. The bolts can be hand-tightened or tightened slightly with a wrench.
The spacing between the height adjustment holes determines the amount of adjustability. In my case, I was limited by the size of the joists (2x8), so these height adjustment holes are about 5 or 6 inches apart.
Also, while I have two height adjustment holes on each 4x4 post, you can apply the same procedure (i.e., drilling extra oversized holes) to make additional height adjustment holes for greater versatility.
Step 5: Add-ons
Since I had plenty of room at the far end of the Adjustable Monkey Bars, I hung rings next to the monkey bars for an additional challenge.
At the other end of the Adjustable Monkey Bars, I added additional monkey bars and a ladder from a store-bought play set that my kids were otherwise outgrowing.
Since the rungs of the Adjustable Monkey Bars gave my kids blisters (and caused lots of "these hurt my hands"), I tried adding grip tape. This helped a little bit, but special monkey bar gloves were the best solution for us.
Step 6: Get Fit!
Using the Adjustable Monkey Bars is a great way to build upper body strength! The adjustability of these bars enable the whole family to get some good and fun exercise. Our 7-year-old daughter has been practicing so much that she puts us all to shame.
First Prize in the
Outdoor Fitness Challenge