I have 5 boys, so needless to say there’s a lot of activity in our house. Our 2nd son is by far the most active (at the moment anyhow) and Amy and I couldn’t resist buying him some rock climbing holds for his birthday. Originally I was going to mount them on the back of our garage, or outside somewhere, but the other night the idea came to me. Use some wood I had lying around to build an indoor climbing wall for the basement. I literally thought of this and built it the next day. The kids helped and within a matter of hours they were climbing away and having a great time!
Here’s the finished product.
The ideas was to use two pieces of plywood I had lying around to make a triangle structure. The more I thought, the more refined the idea. Using bolts to connect the wood accomplished a couple of things.
- Theoretically I could change the board length at the top and bottom to change the angle of the unit and make it steeper or easier.
- The bolts make the whole unit disassemble into a fairly portable unit. This is great if you want to take it outside, take it to a family runion or just stow it away when not in use.
Another port of the idea was to attach indoor/outdoor carpeting. This protected the kids from splinters (it was really rough plywood) and makes it a little more weather proof if I take it outside (If I take it outside I would also paint the side boards because they are not pressure treated.
If you build something like this I hope you’ll use your own creativity to improve the idea.
- 40 Climbing holds from EMS
- 2pc. 4 x 8 plywood (I used B Grade)
- 2×4 lumber – various lengths depending on the size of your unit
- 4×4 lumber – for the base
- 4pc. 4” Galvanized 1/2” Bolts
- 4pc. 6'” Galvanized 1/2” Bolts
- 16pc. 1/2” Galvanized Washers
- 8pc. 1/2” Galvanized Nuts
- 6’ x 8’ section of indoor/outdoor carpet
- 8’ Poly Rope
Step 1: Build the Frames
- The frames are made of 2×4 lumber. My wall was going to be about 5-1/2’ tall so I cut my 2x4s just a couple inches longer.
- I used a jig saw to round the ends of the height boards. That allowed the unit to be pivoted and got rid of sharp edges when the kids were climbing.
- I screwed the whole thing together with 2-1/2” in screws.
- I spaced the cross supports about 6” from either end. A little bit longer on the top.Make sure you measure from one end. Because the rounding of the he 2x4s will make them uneven, you don’t want to measure from both sides.
Step 2 – Cut and Drill the Support Lumber
- On the top I simply used some of the remnant 2×4 to create the connection points.
- On the bottom I used some old 4×4 lumber that was lying around in the backyard. This gives a nice solid base and also some durability if I do place it outside.
Step 3 – Drilling the Holes
- This was hardest part of the project. if the holes are off then the unit will not hinge properly. In the end I basically made my holes on center in the 2×4 lumber. So for instance a 2×4 is 3-1/2” wide. So I centered my holes at 1-3/4” from the sizdes and ends.
- On the bottom I centered my holes more toward the top of the 4×4 so that only the 4x4s are touching the ground.
Step 4 – Test Fit
Once the holes are drilled then you can test fit the structure by inserting the bolts. Everything should come together nicely. If it doesn’t make your adjustments now before you mount the plywood
Step 5 – Attach Plywood
- I cut my plywood down to about 5-1/2” feet.
- I attached all over the frame using 2” decking screws. If you built your frames correctly it should mount perfectly
- I left a little bit of room at both ends so that the 2x4s just peak out on either side of the unit – this allows the carpeting to be tucked under the unit.
Step 6 – Attach the Carpet
- I got some indoor outdoor carpet. This stuff is really inexpensive and gives the climbing wall a very nice finish.
- I cut the carpet to be a little longer so that it could be wrapped around the ends.
- Glue the carpet down with some adhesive and then staple the carpet on the “bottom” of the plywood.
Step 7 – Layout and Attach the Climbing Holds
- I am no expert at climbing layouts, so we basically laid them out in a way that made sense for small guys.
- After laying them out, the boys and I screwed them down.
Step 8 – Assemble and Finishing Touches
- Once the glue has dried (the label says 24 hours, but my boys were not going to wait that long) then attach the top with 4” Galvanized 1/2'” bolts
- Connect the bottom with 6” Galvanized 1/2” bolts
- When talking this over with a friend, we talked about the possible need for an additional support to fix the angle. After tightening down the bolts, I saw no need to to add the additional supports, but depending on your angle and and lumber its something you might want to consider.
- To finish it off I attached poly rope by drilling a hole into one of the supporting 2x4s to add some interest and variety to the climbing.