Introduction: Beastmaker 1000 Hangboard
Hangboards are very popular for rock climbers to train for hand and finger strength. One popular hangboard model that you typically see at a climbing gym is the Beastmaker 1000. I decided to measure the hold sizes and depths at my local gym, and replicated it at my local woodshop.
You can find the official product here: https://www.beastmaker.co.uk/products/beastmaker-1000-series
- For router template: 1/4" MDF board
- For hangboard body: non-splintering hardwood (e.g. cherry, poplar)
- Laser cutter (for template)
- Handheld router and bits (for holds)
- Miter saw
- Table saw
- Jointer and planer
- [Optional] Bandsaw (for rounding the corners)
- [Optional] Handsaw (for sloper)
- [Optional] Chisel (for sloper)
- [Optional] Wood rasp (for sloper)
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Step 1: Laser Cut the Router Template
The first step is to plan out the shape of your hangboard. In this case, I went to a climbing gym and measured the holds' width, height, and depth. Using Adobe Illustrator, I manually drew out the positions of the holds at real-life scale. For simplicity in the later steps, I also etched on the holds' depth on the template, so I can easily reference them when I use a router to cut out the holes.
I've attached the .ai file for my version of the Beastmaker 1000 that you can download. You may have to adjust the line weight to fit your laser cutter specs.
I recommend cutting the template on a 1/4 inch thick wood board. I chose MDF here because they are very flat compared to natural wood (and a bit cheaper). The template would not be used for any structural support, so MDF would do just fine.
Step 2: Prepare the Wood
Now that you have your template, you can visualize how big your hangboard will be. It's time to build the body of the hangboard!
Buy your wood:
Go to your local wood supplier, and pick up a nice plank of hardwood. For my project, I chose cherry for it's non-splinter property (very important). Ask the supplier for recommendations on which wood splinters less. Take your template from step 1 with you. Make sure that the wood board you buy is wider than the hangboard; you can always shave it off lengthwise with a table saw. It's ok if your wood board isn't thick enough for the depth of the holds that you plan on drilling. In my case, as shown in the picture, I'll be gluing two pieces of wood face-to-face to double its thickness. This is because Beastmaker 1000 has a "step" on the bottom, and its bottom holds are quite shallow.
Jointer and planer:
Since we are gluing two wood boards together, we have to make sure that they are perfectly flat on all 6 faces, and that adjacent faces are orthogonal. This is where a jointer and planer comes into play. I won't elaborate on how they work here. Once you get your boards into perfect rectangular prisms, use a miter saw to cut them to be about an inch longer than the template's width. Then, use a table saw to shave the board lengthwise so that the height of the hangboard template is exactly the same as the width of the board.
In the rest of the guide, I'll be calling these two boards "top board" and "bottom board".
Draw on the wood:
This is also a good time to trace out the template onto the wood boards. I drew on some center lines and anchors for extra alignment.
Now, you should have something as shown in the attached image. Notice that the boards are a bit longer than the template on the left and right sides, but the top to bottom distance, or "height", of the boards is the same as that of the template.
Step 3: Make the Bottom Row of Holds on Bottom Board
I first started on making the bottom row of holds on the bottom board. If you recall the Beastmaker 1000 design, the bottom row of holds are very shallow, and only requires a single board to create. This is also good practice with the handheld router, since it doesn't require me to drill through any pieces of wood or align two boards with holes.
Practice using the handheld router on a piece of scrap first! If you are inexperienced with the router, practice first! Make sure that you can precisely create holes to the depth you want.
I used a 3/4" diameter flute straight router bit and a 7/8" inner diameter coupling (image 1 and 2) to cut out the holes. Note: notice that there's a gap between the router bit blade and the outer diameter of the router coupling (image 3)! That's the amount of space left between your template and the actual hole, so plan your router template holes bigger than you want them to be (image 4 and 5).
Once you are comfortable with the handheld router, and is able to create holes of desired depth, it's time to do it on the real material. Make sure that your template is tightly clamped to the wood and the workbench, so it doesn't shift when you trace out the holes with the router. I would use double sided tape or masking tape too.
Always do the routing in increments. If the hold is 20 mm deep, do it in increments of 5 mm. This is to make it easier for the router bit to travel, and it also prevents ugly burn marks from pauses in router movement. Double check the depth with a ruler afterwards (image 5).
Now you have a row of holds completed (image 6)! Congratulations!
Edit: in hindsight, you should do step 7 for this row of holds now before gluing the two pieces together. Round the edges of the holds now. It's really hard to reach the router in once the two boards are glued.
Step 4: Make the Top and Middle Row of Holds on Top Board
Now, put away the bottom board and take out the fresh top board. We will be making some through holes. Because the top and middle rows of holds on the Beastmaker 1000 are deeper than a single board, we'd have to drill through the top board, and then later align the holes with those on the bottom board.
You should be comfortable with the handheld router at this step. However, since we are now drilling all the way through the wood, we need to protect our workbench from the router bit. I attached two pieces of scrap with some double sided tape on the back side of our top board (image 1). These scraps will serve as a buffer between our top board and workbench.
Flip the top board over, clamp down the template and the board (image 2). Always check the alignment between the template and the wood board if you don't finish this step in one session. Use the same router, but this time drill through the board. Again, do it in 5 mm increments. Don't worry if you cut into the scraps; that what they are there for. Just don't go too deep that you are cutting through the scraps and into the workbench.
Once this is done, you should see something like image 3. We will be chopping off the bottom row of the top board in a future step. For now, I just drew some X's to tell myself not to waste energy and time routing holes there.
Step 5: Make the Top and Middle Row of Holds on Bottom Board
This will be our last set of holes to drill with the router. Once again, attach the template to our bottom board and check alignment. Since we already have a bottom row of holes, use them in addition to the boundary lines and anchor marks to align.
Now we need to do some math! We need to take away the depth of our top board holes in this step. For example, if a hold is supposed to be 50 mm deep, and our top board is 22 mm thick, that means we need to drill the bottom board hole to be 50 - 22 = 28 mm deep. Pro tip: I'd use a pencil to write the desired depth on the bottom board as a reminder. Do not simply follow the depth on the template; we need to subtract out the depth of the top board.
Once this step is done, we will have all of our holes completed!
Step 6: Glue the Top and Bottom Boards Together
This is one of the easiest steps. Take your top board, use a table saw, and cut off the bottom portion (image 2). We want the bottom row of holds to be exposed once we glue the two boards together. Align the two boards together and make sure all holes are aligned. If everything is right until this step, I guarantee you that the feeling of well aligned holes is amazing.
Use water resistant wood glue to glue the top and bottom boards. Clamp them down on the workbench and wipe away any glue seeping out with a damp paper towel (image 3).
After 24 hours, check on your hangboard. It's pretty much functional now! (image 4).
Step 7: Round the Edges of Holds
Use a radius rounding over bit to cut round the sharp corners of your holds (image 1). You can choose any radius that you think is comfortable for your fingers. Since using the rounding routing bit something new, test it on a piece of scrap wood first to get a feel.
After this step, your holds should feel extra good when running your fingers through.
Step 8: Cut Hangboard Into Final Shape
Use a bandsaw, carefully cut the sides into the circular shape of Beastmaker 1000. You can also just use a table saw to cut it into a rectangle.
Step 9: Making Slopers
This is one of the most tedious step. To create the slopers on the top of our hangboard, a handsaw is involved. I don't see any power tool that can help us scoop out a nice wedge without damaging the rest of the build.
Do the math:
Depends on how slanted you want your slopers to be, you have to do some trigonometry. We know the thickness of our hangboard, and we also know the angle that we desire. Use inverse tangent function to figure out how far down from the top our slopes will end. Draw this bottom limit down on the wood (image 1).
Do the cut:
Clamp down the board off the edge of the workbench (image 1). Use a hand saw and carefully cut the sloper area into an "accordion" shape (image 2 and 3). Then, use a chisel and hammer to carefully chip away these triangular pieces (image 4 and 5). Do not over do it with the chisel. We can always clean it up with a wood rasp (image 6).
Step 10: Sandpaper
Finally, use sets of sandpaper to smooth out all surfaces and remove any ugly burn mark (if you want). Start with 40 grit and work your way to 320 grit. Double the grit number over time. Beware that lower grits like 40 and 80 will eat away wood really fast!
Take a piece of 80 grit and scuff up the inside of the holds. You don't want those places to be smooth; you need some friction to actually hold on to the wood with your fingers.
That's it! Now you should have a super smooth and shiny hangboard!
Step 11: Mounting
There are many ways to mount a hangboard. You can drill directly into your wall if you'd like, or you can create a jig like those in the climbing gyms to make them modular and interchangeable. A good way I recommend is to use a door frame pull-up bar, as shown in this tutorial by Geek Climber.