Monday, 23 December 2013

Homemade peg board (climbing)

So I finally got around to finishing my peg board, I’ve been posting photos of the progress for long enough on facebook. This is a continuation of my rockclimbing wall/hang board, using the pieces of plywood from that project. I first saw a peg board in action in a video by Jim Bathurst from beast skills, it looked really cool and I filed it in the back for my brain for when I had the plywood and time. And when I got given the two sheets of ply I knew what I wanted to build.  I made lots of mistakes on this project which is why it’s taken so long and I’ll outline all of them that I can remember so that you don’t have to repeat my mistakes.

I started with two pieces of ply, 400mm by 2400mm (I cut these from a full sheet of ply costing about $80NZ yielding 3 strips). I glued these together with ‘no more nails’ wood glue and let the glue set under the weight of my sandbags and kettlebells (Note: I also sourced a piece of 8mm ply as the backing once all the holes were drilled, this was glued on after finishing the holes). Next came a series of mistakes.

Dip bars double as saw horses

Looking around different sites on the net I found several people suggested making the holes 30mm and the pegs 28mm, I wanted mine slightly bigger and tighter so I bought a 32mm auger bit and 32mm dowels. The problem was that my cordless drill was not strong enough to run the 32mm bit through the ply straight off so I decided to drill a pilot hole with a 10mm auger bit. The holes were drilled 200mm apart, one line in the centre then 80mm up from the bottom and down from the top.

The problem came then I tried to drill through the pilot hole with the 32mm drill bit. Since it has a small cone shaped tip to start the hole the large section of the bit moved around a lot before finally biting in and getting going, this made a mess on the board (really it wasn’t so bad but I’m picky). Also once the bit broke through to the other side it made a mess of the other side to (again I’m just picky). So I did my best to keep it looking good by drilling from both sides which didn’t quite line up exactly. So following this I had to clean up the holes with some drill bits used kind of like a dremmel to shape things, I don’t know what they are called but it took ages.

You can see how the holes are a bit rough

Once all the drilling was done, which took a long time since my cordless drill could only manage 5 holes before running out of power, I could test out dowel I bought, it was too small. The dowel moved around too much from my liking so I took it back and swapped for the next size up, 35mm, which was too big. At this point I put the pegs in the “later” basket; I glued the 8mm ply to the back, and mounted the board on the wall in my garage. First the two 2x4s were screwed to the wall, then the board on top of that, it’s super strong and feels totally safe. Finally, I cut 4 pegs at 200mm each (from the 35mm dowel) and sanded down the ends to fit into the board. I like to have spares which is why I cut two extra.

Two pegs the the ends sanded down to fit
It feels great to have the board finally finished. It’s really hard and fun to use and will be great for training for the one arm chin ups. This project probably took 20 hours or so, due to all my mistakes. I suggest buying or borrowing a powerful drill; it will make everything so much easier. I’m happy with how it’s turned out. I would probably do it again, however I can always take it down and bring it with me if I move, maybe in the next garage I might have the height to mount it vertically, or at least on an angle. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Jump box, climbing rope and fat bars

Today I’ve got three items which are kind of homemade, in that I repurposed them to work as fitness gear, but they are not really ‘homemade’ in that I didn’t build them myself.  

Jump box

First up is my jump box, it stands 640mm high (25 inches) and is simply a reinforced cable bundle. I got the idea from a video of Matt Wichlinski and thought it would be a good addition. Companies buy or use cable wrapped up on bundles like these of various sizes and I managed to pick one up easily. It needed to be reinforced to take the weight of me jumping on it so I used off cuts from various projects. If you make one yourself, your reinforcements won’t need to be that strong. I need to set up something so that I can make the jump higher so for now I just hold a 20kg sandbag while I jump.

Climbing rope

The climbing rope is about 4.5 meters and 1 inch thick which is about $100 worth of rope. I managed to score this one for free as an off cut from a rope manufacturer so look around and see what you can beg, borrow or find. All I needed to do was splice an eye into it. I searched around on youtube and followed the easiest video I could find. The method itself is easy, but difficult on this thickness of rope.  I’ve set it up to hang from my pull up frame, all I need it a new carabiner which will fit.

The eye I spliced in, before and after tape to finish it
First rope climb
Fat bars

This is another one I saw on Matt Wichlinski’s channel, I got the pipe for $40 and gave my brother a box of beer to weld it up for me. The pipe is 50mm thick, standard size for Olympic plates. The bar is 2100mm long (7 foot) and the dumbbells 470mm long (about 1.5 foot). Super simple all I needed to do was sand and spray the bars to hold off the rust. These work great, I’ll try to get a picture I me lifting with them to post. These currently live at a friend’s house since he has plates, but maybe in the future I’ll buy some plates and this will be the bar I use at home.

Dumbbells and barbell

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Homemade Biltong Box

I first found out what a biltong box was only a few months ago from a friend who was building himself a second one. When he explained what it was all I could think was I can build one this weekend and start making biltong. It ended up being a few weeks before I got around to building one but I’ll back up first and explain what a biltong box is.

Biltong is a type of dried meat which originated in South Africa. It is made by cutting raw meat following the gain, which is cured in vinegar, salt and spices before drying. The drying box is simply a box with a light (for heat) and a fan for air flow. That’s the basics of it.

I did a bunch of Google searches to see how other people had built their biltong boxes and many of them followed my friend’s design and the one I eventually went with. Others were made from ply wood, and some were old tv boxes. The design I have used is build using plastic storage boxes.

The total cost of building the box was about $80, $35 of that being the fan. I chose to go with the more expensive 240v fan so that I could have the fan and light wired together instead of using a cheap 24v computer fan wired separately. Note: the light is a 60 watt bulb.

The Build

I borrowed a set of hole saws to drill out all of the holes, I set up 6 vent holes (someone suggested this might be too much air, I haven’t had a problem yet but I could experiment with closing two up). I also drilled out a hole for the light to be wired in and the fan to be mounted. Note: I set the light up very low to start with and my electrician later lifted the light higher (it’s now about 50mm off the bottom of the box) to prevent it from heating up the plastic too much, this has not been an issue at all. I also made some plywood brackets for the light and fan to mount against. They could have been mounted to the plastic box directly, but I had the ply and thought it would be stronger and neater. The only other holes needed were for the wooden rods to hang the meat. The vent holes were covered in an insect mesh which is taped on, I got the mesh from work but it is super cheap at any home store. Note the ply wood bracket for the fan is also covered in mesh. I have also taped around the wood doles to keep out any bugs. I’m not worries about nasty chemicals coming off the plastic, the box doesn’t keep hot and the meat doesn’t touch any off the plastic.

My electrician did an excellent job wiring it all up. I could have done it myself but didn’t want to risk electrocution or burning the house down. The build is really simple and took 1-2 hours total.

Following this I looked around for some recipes and went with the most simple I could find. I had my butcher cut me 1kg of silverside (NOT CORNED) approximately 3cm thick (this will seem very thick but its good) this gave me 4 slices. This was dipped in apple cider vinegar then spiced with rock salt, pepper corns and coriander (see photos for thickness of spice). This was dried for 4 days (its winter here and somewhat cold), the meat came out very slightly pink in the centre, I liked this, others said it needed to be drier, and some said perfect, so it’s really a matter of taste.

First batch before and after drying

The second batch I ran was 2.5kg sliced about 1cm thick, I also ran out of spice. This batch taught me a few things:

  • The max capacity of the dryer is about 20 pieces.
  • The thinner meat needs less spice or it’s too intense.
  • When I ran out of pepper and coriander I used paprika since it was within reach, this turned out okay but I’m not a big fan.
  • And obviously the thinner meat dried faster (3 days)
Second batch all loaded up ready to dry

All done, I’m really happy with my biltong box, when I’ve finished this next batch I’ll start trying some different spices and maybe in future post some recipes.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Small rock-climbing wall/ massive hang board

This post is on my home rock climbing wall/massive hang board which is still an ongoing project. Clearly it’s not a full rock climbing wall (I wish it was), but it’s a hell of a lot bigger than most hang boards. My original idea was to put up just a small hang board much like the blank slate boards, maybe a meter long to set up a few holds to work on my grip strength. The only problem was no one sells such small pieces of plywood. So I scaled up and decided use a full sheet of ply (18mm, $80 NZ) which would span the garage and leave me enough wood for a small campus board on the back side. Since I’m back at Uni I couldn’t afford the ply until my Mum offered to buy me a sheet for my birthday. When she suggested two sheets I jumped at the opportunity and the plan grew again. Now the plan includes a hanging section and a peg board, both of which only need time to finish. So this is what I’ve got finished do far, a four meter long section of wall to climb on and half the campus board.

Holds from Uprising
The rock holds, t-nuts and bolts were all bought from Uprising holds; the total cost was about $200 NZ including all the extra t-nuts. The beauty of it is that I can easily take the whole this down and set it up in another garage.

The first thing I did was measured up for the wall. I measured down from the rafters 400mm and found I would be able to walk underneath without needing to duck, this would give me two cuts and three strips of plywood from each large sheet. These strips would be 400mm by 2400mm.

After cutting the sheets I drilled out the first board for the t-nuts, these were spaced 200mm apart horizontally and 100mm from the top and bottom of each sheet. I used a 10mm auger bit to give a nice clean hole (Tip: drill from the clean side through to the back, it’s ok if the back looks a bit rough). Once these were all drilled for the first sheet I hammered the t-nuts in from the back and the board was ready to go. At this point I realised that the bolts for the holds would stick out the back from the t-nut when tightened up so I was going to need to block the ply out from the wall to allow the bolts to stick out. I picked up some off cuts from work; these were 20mm thick and 50mm wide. I used these to line the rafters in positions that would not block the bolts from sticking out the back of the t-nut (I hope that makes sense since I don’t have a picture of it). These were screwed in with small gauge screws.

Woods to pack out the ply and the large gauge screws.

Once the first sheet of ply was up I could measure and cut the next sheet to fit. This was then drilled and the t-nuts hammered in. Both of the sheets were screwed in with large gauge screws that go all the way into the rafters. I think I have spent about $30 in screws to get the climbing wall and campus board up.

Once the climbing wall was up I could set up holds, originally I put the holds randomly but I have since moved them to be spaced in several different positions for doing pull ups.

The wall, note the possible pull up positions.

The wall stayed like this for several weeks until I got around to buying some framing timber ($20 length) to run up the back of the two sheets. I then added the sheet which would be my campus board. I used more 20mm by 50mm off cuts from work. These were cut into 400mm and 800mm strips. The 400mm strips were doubled up then wood glued and screwed onto the ply. These are on super tight and aren’t going anywhere. The plan was to have some more single strips on an angle going up and down the sheet but the horizontal section is so hard I can only manage a few seconds of hang. So the second half of the campus board is on hold for now, either until I get stronger or until I decide how I will fill the other side.
Views of the campus board
 I am still working on the hanging section of the wall and the peg board (a lot of work has gone into this, should be a lot of fun when it’s done).

Note: I now have a post up about my training with the hangboard

Pull ups and a one arm hang

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Homemade dip bars

Press ups are great, so are straight bar and ring dips, but I wanted to be able to do some weighted dips or high rep parallel dips as well (Weighted dips are also an excellent alternative to bench press). So I looked around at a whole lot of different set ups for dips; I saw lots of fixed dip stations made of pipe or wood. I also saw a few fixed to walls with two pipes coming out to grip. These were all great but I wanted to be able to change the width and angle of my bars. I finally settled on building two free standing bars which could be moved around. They take up more room than pipe fixed to a wall, and the design isn’t prefect but I’m happy with them. If I had the room I would set up full parallel bars outside, but these are a nice compromise.

Finding your measurements

Since I workout on my own and I’m relatively tall I measured everything to suit me. The bars are just less than 500mm wide each and stand just under 900mm off the ground. The only key measurement to make is how high off the ground to set them. To find this I kneeled down, set my arms up in the highest dip position I could manage (elbows above shoulders). From here I measured the height of my grip off the ground and my bar had to be higher than this, only 50-100mm higher is needed. This allows me to do full range weighted dips but if I fail the drop is very manageable. All the other measurements such as the width of the base are up to you, 500mm wide would make it more than stable enough.

The build

Sorry I didn’t get any build pictures of this one either, but it is a fairly simple design. I used all scrap wood, it would have cost about $20 to buy, the pipe was scrap too and would cost less than $10 to buy. The diagonal braces are just for extra stability, not sure if they are really necessary.

The two bars together, if the bases are staggered they can be placed closer together

Tips and suggestions

  • If you have access to a drop saw you could do a much better job than I have, one of my bars in out of square but it is very solid, just looks a bit funny.
  • When wearing my weight belt if the bars are not far enough apart the belt can catch on the wood under the bar, is takes all the momentum out of the dip and makes things difficult. You could design your bars differently to prevent this but I just check the spacing of the bars before I start my dips.
  • I have set up dips with an added 32kg, not loads of weight but I’m confident my bars will hold up under a lot more weight.

I’m not currently working on my dips but this set up is very comfortable and fun to throw in every now and then.