Sunday, 11 May 2014

Homemade stall bars (Swedish bars)

Hanging from the top, low leg raise (mush harder an stall bars than on a pull up bar.

Quite a while ago I saw some of Ido Portal’s videos with those old school wooden bars on the walls of his gym and I thought “they look cool, I bet I could build some, but I have no idea what they’re for”. Then Ido put out two videos using the bars known as stall bars, or Swedish bars, one video showed a front support (like a front lever) and the other showed a back support (like a back lever). So now I knew something I could use these bars for, but it was a lot of wood (and money) to lay out so I never got serious about building some. 

Recently I bought the gymnastics bodies, foundation one course, which uses stall bars quite frequently (I make nothing off that link). While they are not a necessity, it starts to get difficult to work around things without the stall bars and eventually I would need to set up something like a ladder to use instead. So I bit the bullet and built myself a set. 

As always I looked around as much as I could to get an idea of how most people build them, and common issues that arise before I jumped in and built mine. First step was to decide on the measurements. Most commercial units are 3 foot wide (900mm), but my rafters are 800mm apart so my unit had to be 800mm wide. As far as I could tell most bars were set 150mm apart, and the top bar is offset by about 120mm. I used 32mm pine dowels (pine was all that was available to me), this seems to work quite well as any thicker and the grip would fail first, meaning any gymnastics training would be sub optimal. The dowels were the most expensive part costing about $160NZ total. As far as I can tell the way I have set my bars up will work very well, possibly I won’t use all of the bars but I’m not familiar enough with gymnastics training to know. If in the future I have any issues I’ll update this post.

So to maximise space I cut the sides to fit floor-to-ceiling (approximately 2200mm), then laid out the sides which would be drilled to fit the bars. The wood I used is 140mm wide and 20mm thick. I used this because it was cheap and available (about $8NZ per metre). I used wood glue to glue two boards together for each side, as well as two shorter pieces for the top. I then drilled these boards for the dowels. Note: Always drill from the side you will see as the holes on that side look good and not blown out which can happen on the other side. These boards (drilled) were then glued to the outer boards (not drilled). I put a small amount of glue into each hole before I put the dowel in. It was tricky to get both sides together so call a friend if you can. I then added the top, bottom and middle braces, threw some screws in and waited for it to dry. The unit is screwed into studs behind the plywood but I might add some small brackets to the outside just to be safe.

Undrilled sides, finished drilling, one side glued
Top, bottom and middle braces
All finished I’m quite happy, it looks pretty good for something I built and feels very solid.


  1. Hi there, just wondering how you stopped the dowel from spinning? Is the glue strong enough to hold it or did you screw them in or something? I'm trying to make my own at the moment and just thinking out loud.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. I just used 'no more nails' glue. Its super strong and I haven't had any issues with them spinning.

    2. Just stumbled upon this article trying to find inspiration for my own build! Your write up definitely helped so thanks!

      For future people stumbling on this article id say another way to go about stopping possible spin would be to use screws to fix the dowel in place. Im thinking about pre drilling a pilot hole through the back of the 2 side posts that the dowels are running through and also through the dowels themselves (prevents cracking wood) then use screws to fasten them in place. The screw/holes would be hidden when up against the wall. My 2 cents, cheers

    3. Hey Eric, very good idea, and tidy too which is great.

  2. Thanks for the speedy reply. Happy new year too!

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