Boom Crane Pulley




Moving into a new house with nice new hardwood floors is hard enough. But if you need to climb not, one but two skinny staircases to get to the living room, moving in is simply a nightmare. Grills, couches, TVs, fridges, etc. are a pain to lift as it is, let alone attempting to traverse stairs. So instead of performing move-in gymnastics while breaking our backs, i decided to simplify things by building our own boom-crane pully system.
This project took about 2 - 3 hours from start to finish (not including buying the stuff).
I hope you enjoy my very first Instructable!

So the basic idea is that this is a 3-story house with roof deck. The living room is on the third floor, and has a balcony. The crane is mounted to the floor of the roof deck (the 'fourth' floor). This will allow us to pull things from the street level up to the third floor balcony. So the boom crane is saving us from having to bring things up two flights of stairs.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Materials

I guess we'll start off with a list of items needed for the crane itself, along with some tools.

Materials for the crane:

2 1/2" x 10' diameter rigid conduit
2" x 10' diameter rigid conduit
two 1/2" x 5" bolts
a bunch of 1/2" washers & nuts
1/2" x 3" eye bolt
2 1/2" pipe brackets
flat head deck screws
60 grit sand paper

I got all my stuff from Home Depot. The two pipes are surprisingly expensive, and will run you about $100. Since this will stay outdoors, make sure that everything you buy is galvanized. This will prevent any of the metal parts from rusting.

Materials for the pulley:

Double wheel pulley
Single wheel pulley with second mounting point.
100' of strong climbing rope
40' of regular rope

I got the pulleys off of eBay for about $20 a pop. Just do a search for 'wood pulley.'
The rope was purchased from REI. This is definitely the most expensive part of the setup. Once again i wasn't sure what i would need, so i went with the sure thing. I got 11cm rope that could lift 29 kilo-Newtons. I'm not sure exactly how much that is, but the guy at the store told me it would lift a car, so it's good enough for me!


power drill
1/2" drill bit (for metal)
compound power saw
7" cutoff blade (for metal)
safety goggles

Step 2: The Boom Pole

All righty lets get right into it. I'd highly recommend having someone to help you out with this. It is definitely a 2-person job.

The first step is to drill some holes. The holes will all be 1/2" diameter.
While one person holds the pipe steady, the other person drills.
Put the pipe up on a piece of wood so that you don't drill through the roof!

The 2 1/2" rigid conduit will be the main boom. drill the first hole about 1/2" from the end of the pipe.
This hole is for the eyebolt.
The pipe came with a threaded connector, so i just tightened it and kept it on for stability.
It's tough to see, but try to drill as straight as possible.
Make sure to wear safety goggles, because the last thing you want is a piece of metal going in your eye.

The second hole is going to be about 2" behind the other one.
However, it needs to be at a right angle (90 degrees) from the other one.
This hole is for the support pole. It will attached to the side of the main boom.

Now we need to install the eyebolt. Insert it into the hole. On the threaded side, add one or two washers, and then a nut. Tighten this nut as hard as you can!! Then put on a second nut to keep the first one from unscrewing.

That's it for this pole!

Step 3: The Support Pole

Now you need to decide how long you want your crane to extend out. I'm not a mechanical engineer, but i can figure out the further the boom is from the building, the forces compound dramatically. But you don't want it too close, or anything you lift will be dragging along the wall on the way up!
I chose to go about 4 feet out beyond the wall.

The support pole is a little bit trickier. Since these conduits come with threaded ends, i didn't like that so the first thing i did was cut off one of the ends.

I used a compound miter saw fitted with a 7" metal cutting blade. Once again, have one person holding the pole. Cutting this thing produced a TON of sparks! In the future, i would wear gloves while doing this, as the sparks kind burned when they touched you.
It should go without saying that this step DEFINATLEY requires safety goggles!

Once the end is cut, i used some sandpaper to smooth out the outside & inside of the pipe. Now we need to drill our first hole. I drilled it about 2" back from the end of the pipe (the nice clean end). Once that was done, i needed to determine the length. I put a bolt through the hole and the second hole on the boom. This is just for testing! I slid it out over the edge and once i was happy with the distance, i made three measurements: the length of where to cut the pipe, the optimal place for the second hole (about 1" from the end), and also where to attach the pole to the railing.

Once we were all measured up, i pulled it back in, and disassembled it. I lined up the support pole in the saw, cut of the other, and sanded it.

We now need to drill the second hole in the support pipe.

Remember, it has to be at a 90 degree angle from the one on the other end!
If you marked it well in the last step, you should have no problem.

Step 4: The Railing

The last hole that needs to be drilled is in the railing itself. I'm not sure what the angle is (about 45 degrees i'm guessing), but once again, if you marked it well, then you'll be fine.
The railing is hollow, and it looks like it's made of 2" pipe as well.

You can either drill from the top or the bottom. I chose to drill from the top, because that's where I made the mark, but I needed to lean out over the railing.

Step 5: Assembly

Now we put it all together. Put a bolt through the second hole on the boom pole and one of the ends of the support pole. Put one washer on each side of the bolt, and one in between the pipes. Tighten it, and then add a second nut.

Slide it out over the edge like before, and the lift up the support pipe and line it up with the hole in the railing. Once it's good, put the bolt through the top, sandwiching washers in between. Tighten it, using two nuts.

Step 6: Mounting the Boom to the Deck

We now need to mount it to the deck. I used only three clamps: one close to the edge, and two at the very back of the boom pole.
Mark off holes, and drill them out using a wood bit smaller than the screws.

For the bracket near the edge, I ran into a problem. It appears that the plate that holds up the railing post was directly under the boom! So the hole on the right couldn't be drilled.

I switched to a metal bit and drilled it out. No problem!

And were done! Our crane is built.

Time to move in!

Step 7: The Rigging

To set up the rigging, you run the rope through the following path:

- Big pulley, wheel one
- Small pulley wheel
- Big pulley, wheel two
- Attach to small pulley mounting point

I opted to tie a loop and go through a carbineer for mounting to the first pulley. This way you can unhook it easily if need be.

The loop should be none other than ..... a bowline!
It's the strongest knot PERIOD and does not slip. Very safe, and sailors have been using it for centuries.

Attach the smaller rope to the hole in the smaller pulley. The purpose of this line is to guide the objects away from the side of the house. Since the boom crane only extends four feet, most objects need to be pulled away. It also prevents things from swinging wildly.

So the basic idea is that there will be one (or two) people on the ground that will pull the object up, while one person guides the object. A third person is on the balcony ready to pull anything over the edge of the railing, and safely onto the balcony.

The way the pulley system is rigged up, it results in a divide by four lift advantage to the person on the ground. It does use more rope than a single pulley system, but this way one person can do the lifting if need by. So if the object weighs 100 lbs, you only need to be able to pull 25 lbs.

Step 8: Boom Crane in Action!

We lifted all sorts of things up, the heaver ones being a TV, barbecue grill, and a fridge.

For the objects to be lifted, we simply used bright-orange truck tie-down straps. They're rated for like 3000 pounds, so it was more than enough. You just wrap them around an object like a present (crossed unterneath). This gives you a good point to lift from, and prevents the object from slipping out.

Well, the biggest question I'm sure you have is "How much can it lift?" Well, I didn't want to do any destructive testing to see its breaking point, because then I wouldn't have myself a cool crane any more!

But we lifted two big guys on it at one time, each weighing over 200 lbs, and there were no signs of weakening anywhere.

So I can confidently say that you can for certain lift 400 lbs on this thing. And that's a lot of weight.

Summer is coming up and we've got some great ideas for this thing, one being a tire swing! It will also make it much easier getting beer kegs up to the balcony.




    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    53 Discussions


    7 months ago

    I would like to construct a boom and pulley contraption to lift hay bales out of the back of a pickup truck, swing 90 degrees and lower hay into a stack in my garage. Bales are about 150 pounds. What would I use to get the boom to swing? Would this be safe to attach to roof joists?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    that's called using your head! Work smart not hard. I personnally would have opted for a winch of some sort. perhaps an inexpensive boat winch. that way you don't have to be down below in the crush zone and also a winch is self locking so if you let go for an instant, the load won't come crashing down.
    In response to the concerns by the engineers, the rest of us are not nessesarily idiots! I have lifted 1000 pound steel beams into place with wooden derricks and a couple come alongs without incident. simple knowledge about leverage and common sense are all I have to work with.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    you look like rick from pawnstars! :) lol


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I'm looking to do something similar, only it needs to be detachable and I plan on using a remotely operated ATV winch... any ideas?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Is it possible to use a miter saw (for wood) for cutting metal i.e. is it just a question of changing the blade or are there other differences between the machines??? Thanks

    4 replies

    You can use a standard miter saw, with a chop saw blade instead of a regular wood blade. Don't forget gloves, long sleeves, & safety glasses - lots of sparks! Look for something like this:

    jongscxcaptain Jack

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    However, if something happens, chopping metal with a non metal-rated miter saw Automatically Voids the warranty... Not that many of us haven't done that already, but just warning for anyone interested...

    Derincaptain Jack

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    well we have a saw blade with DIAMOND ends which are capped for conversion of the blade to a clock the picture comes when we go to the house with that


    11 years ago on Step 7

    Where do you get a pulley like that?? Is there somewhere that isn't online (cuz I need it soon....)?

    1 reply
    captain Jackcarolw04

    Reply 11 years ago on Step 7

    go to eBAY and type in "wooden pulley." I did it just now & there are over 30 results.

    captain Jack

    11 years ago on Introduction

    I'm posting an update as to the condition of this 'most dangerous contraption' (as some people below chose to call it) after one year of constant use. We have used the pulley system for some most arduous tasks, including lifting very heavy and unwieldy objects. Some examples are: - 4 Burner Heavy Duty Outdoor Gas Grill > 200lbs - 9' extra deep single-piece designer couch - 36" Panasonic CRT TV > 150 lbs - Full sized fridge All of these items would have been near impossible to bring up (and down) the 2 flight narrow stairwell. This was a rental house, and upon move out (which went quite smoothly, i might add), i was required to dismantle the crane. This gave me the unique opportunity to observe the 'damage' left to the house. The first thing that was immediately noticeable was a little bit of rust on some of the bolts. The rust was only on the outside. Being so close to the beach causes metal items to rust much quicker, but even i was surprised by the speedy advancement of the elements. The nuts were galvanized, so in the future, perhaps a quick coat of Rust-o-leum would prevent this from happening. The railing, which many posters feared would be ripped out and come crashing down in one horribly cataclysmic event, remains completely intact. Other than a little but of rust and chipped pain where the crane was mounted to the railing, all that remains is a single 1/2" hole. There are no stress fractures or cracks of any kind around the hole, and the railing in general is in excellent condition. In the future, i would definitely take the suggestion to use a right-angle scaffolding clamp. It would be much easier to install & no hole would remain. The deck of the roof has 6 small holes where the screws had attached the boom. These were in good shape, and easily filled in with caulking. Now, you can't even tell they ever existed. I don't know of any method to prevent the holes here, as any sort of crane would have to be mounted to the roof in some manner. So, would i do this again in the future? In a heartbeat. My back, the stairs, the inside walls, and my roommates thank me for the destruction and chaos that was avoided by this contraption. I hope you all enjoyed this post!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I'm building something similar. Can you elaborate on what kind of bit you used to drill the metal? I'm stuck on this step - but maybe its because my pipe is too thick (1/4 inch metal). Last night I spent a LOT of time drilling (titanium nitride bit) and barely made a dent - didn't seem to matter how much pressure I applied. Next I tried a dremel with grinding stone type bit - this worked better than the drill, but after a real long time, I just barely got through the metal (still haven't even finished one hole) and the thing isn't big enough to do a 1/2 inch hole either. Not sure what tool can do this job... Maybe I need to use a smaller pipe - I got this one for free though, and its the perfect length, and super strong.

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Good Stuff May I suggest You will need to drill at least 2 pilot holes in the pipes before you try and drill 1/2" straight thru into steel Pipe! You should use a "Centre Punch" first" so the Drill doesn't slide all over the place! So start off with say a 3/16" Pilot hole then go to 3/8" then drill your 1/2".I would also use a Drilling compound to help keep the friction down You must also use a Power Electric Drill at High speed. Great Idea enjoy the Beer Eh!! Don't let anyone Ride up on it if you must use a politicion they will do anything to get to high places and above everyone else. Dasha


    Your pipe isn't SOLID, is it? I used a hollow conduit pipe. As for the bit, i just went to home depot, and told the guy i needed a good quality 1/2" drill bit to drill through metal conduit. He pointed me to a few of them, and i chose one in the middle price range ($17). It's a lot of money to spend on a drill bit, but it will last forever. I don't remember off the top of my head. I used a cordless drill, but it's pretty high speed. Make sure your drill spins fast! It did take about 5 minutes per hole. You shouldn't use a dremel for this; drilling is the only way to go. Other than that, i don't really know what to tell you. let me know how your project works out!


    No, its not soild. I just went to Lowes today, I saw what you are talking about, it was also $17, the key is getting a cobalt bit. It looked good, and packageing specifically said it was for stainless steel and hard metals. I guess I'll go back and buy it. My boom is like yours only rotated 90 degrees so it looks like hangman's gallows. I also bought an eyebolt rated for 2000 lbs (tractor supply co sells them for pretty cheap). Also bought an electric hoist ($70 from harbor freight, can lift 880 lbs. which is more than adaquate for what I'm doing).


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I have a "come-along" hand operated rachet winch-thingee I used to shift fallen tree limbs. It's rated to move 1200 lbs. But I long ago decided to not purchase anything that was so heavy I couldn't move it myself. No one-piece conventional sofas, king-sized beds, etc. Our speakers, furniture, everything weighs 70 lbs. or less. Period. Bigger stuff like fridges get donated to the Goodwill. Then workmen deliver and install a new model in the new place. But they manufacture small appliances now.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea and excellent instructable.... Next, you'll have to construct a stationary but turnable and extending manual crane bolted to the 3rd floor. You could even have the winch at the top (manual or motorized) with a seat for you to sit in. It'd be like fishing..... without the fish :)

    1 reply