DIY Balance Board

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Introduction: DIY Balance Board

About: I like cheese.

I've been using a stand up desk for several years. It's done wonders for my lower back, which was in rough shape after endless hours of sitting during grad school. Still, I find a few aches and pains from standing stock still (knees locked) all day. After a bit of digging online, I found several articles which suggested using a balance board (also known as a "wobble board") as a way to keep myself in motion whilst I break rocks at the data mine.

These boards are not expensive - I found several that would probably work in the $20-30 range. Still, why buy it when you can make it, eh?

This is an exceptionally simple project. Given the proper tools (I go to our local Tool Library, a very affordable sort of community maker space), it can easily be finished in a few hours or less.

Step 1: Materials

I had some 3/4" FSC-certified plywood leftover from another project, and picked up the softball for $5. That's all you need, though I chose to set the finished board on a small rug, and cover it with another.

Step 2: Cutting the Disc

I made the disc as large as the plywood scrap (24-in). The Tool Library already had the circle jig, but since it was built for a different router base, I essentially ended up building a new jig. There are several very good videos on how to do this on YouTube - it takes little time, and can be made from scrap wood.

To center the jig, I tapped a small nail where I wanted the circle center (measuring 12-in from side and bottom of the plywood), then cut off the head with pliers, leaving a sharp point for marking the underside of the jig. I then extended the straight router bit so that I had my outer point for the jig, centered the jig arm over the nail, and tapped a couple times with a rubber mallet.

After pulling the nail, I drilled holes through both the plywood and the jig arm, and attached the jig to the plywood with a bolt and loosely fitted wing nut. After making one shallow pass (to reduce splintering), I followed up with one 2/3rds the depth of the plywood, and then a final full-depth cut to cut the disc from the plywood blank.

Step 3: Cutting a Socket for the Pivot Ball

A regulation softball is roughly 4-inches in diameter at the seams. The largest hole saw we had available was 3-inches. After cutting the 3-inch hole (in two passes, one from either side to limit splintering), I used a 45-degree chamfer bit to "widen" the hole from the underside. I also used a round-over bit to put a curved edge (both top and bottom) on the disc itself.

Step 4: Fitting and Testing

It's really just that simple. The whole project took maybe two hours, and that included stopping at the store to buy the softball. I haven't used the board a great deal yet (though I'm standing on it as I type this 'structable), but if it ends up giving me leprosy or somesuch, I'll post a disclaimer here. So far, my ankles are getting much more of a workout than I'm used to, but my knees are flexed. That's got to be a good thing, right?

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49 Discussions

Great instructions! I've been putting off buying a wobble board for one of my children for a couple of years. Will have to try making it myself now. Thanks!

I think (at least for my own purposes), this would be NOT about strengthening ankles. It'd be about improving balance, and core engagement.

Can you give us an update on the usefulness of this simple solution? Is it practical when you're having to concentrate on work?

I don't think it is logical that 'supporting' the ankles will make them stronger. It makes much more sense for you to build the muscles in the feet/ankles/legs to create a strong and stable base.

If you wear a cast for a while, the muscles atrophy & weaken... which should give you an idea of what shoes are doing. Wearing 'supportive' shoes is highly counter productive, and I suspect that shoes have caused more damage to peoples feet than anything else. They are a modern, culturally accepted form of foot-binding.

I believe foot weaknesses such as bunions, plantar fasciitis and mortons neuroma are pretty much unheard of in shoeless cultures. Don't buy into the myth created by shoe companies & orthotics manufacturers!

you're right, k-elf! i used to have ankles like superman. i had roller skated since childhood, with metal skates that clamped on to sneakers & shoes. when i began indoor skating, i couldn't flex my ankles in those leather boot skates, so i folded the tongue, & laced them BELOW my ankles. x^)

I was born with flat feet. In physical rehab after a stroke, while teaching me how to walk again they also tried to fix my flat feet, rather than working what was natural for me. That wasn't working, only after they giving up try to cure my flat feet and working with them is when I made progress in walking again. Custom arch supports can help if/when a persons flat feet cause them trouble. Some people live long lives without their flat feet causing them problems.

Yes, nicely said. Supports can give a false sense of security so to speak.

EXACTLY what my Physical Therapist told me when I badly sprained my ankle!! It's okay to use support while it is healing, but you REALLY need to start building up the muscle and tendon support, and they had me using one of these!!! I really need to make one now! Thanks!

Interesting observations; I like the way you think. The same thing happens by wearing a neck brace for whiplash or other neck injury - your muscles are relieved of their duty to hold up the head so they 'forget' how.

Years ago a shoe salesman told me the best shoes have a straight last, which means there is a straight line from the middle of the heel to the toes. I think it was just off centre toward the big toe but I don't remember exactly.

During the last couple decades I have not been able to find such a shoe - all the lines are curved. Not to mention the fact that the toe box is much too narrow. This used to only be a concern for women's shoes but now it is becoming true for men's shoes as well.

Agree, It's not logical that 'supporting' the ankles will make them stronger. but if you already have strong ankles and the exercise overworks this area, support is logical. The balance idea is to burn calories through core body motions to stabilize balance.

runnersworld.com even has exercises to help you rebuild flat feet, weak ankles, etc.

sounds and looks fun!