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Home climbing wall question: connecting frames
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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Jun 13, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

I'm in the process of building a free standing home climbing wall and would like some help. As of right now I have three frames built for 4x8 panels. What's the best way to connect these together to make a 12 ft high 8 ft wide wall? I'm making it about a 30 degree overhang and I'm worried that the stress from the weight of the wall and a climber on it would cause the wall to give/bend a lot in the connecting sections. My frames are made up of 2x6s with the studs being separated every 16". Here's a very very basic design of the structure. The black is the wall and the red are the support beams, I think I'll be using 4x4s for those.

design
design


I hope to make it adjustable by drilling holes spaced apart a foot or so along the side of the wall, having a removable bolt at the top of the triangle support, and then just slide the wall down and back and putting the bolt back in to create a larger overhang. Any thoughts on that design? Also, where should i place support beams to prevent side to side movement, or would an eight foot wide wall not be in danger of tilting over? First day and progress on completing the wall has gone smoothly and quickly, I'm very excited!


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By Andy Librande
From Denver, CO
Jun 14, 2011
Me in the Buddha Cave at crumblewood a while ago.

I have built pretty much that exact design before. I did it with 2x6's attached near the top and coming down at an angle approximately the same angle as the wall. Luckily for me I didn't need to complete the triangle because they fit up against a concrete garage wall.

Attach to the wall using 2 lag bolts per connection instead of screws. I reinforced this section.

Somehow you will have to connect the triangle and instead of adding in the downward piece and the bottom piece as shown in your diagram just have a connector piece straight across someplace in the middle or at the bottom; this will be much easier and stronger.

2x6's will support the wall just fine, the only issue is warping so doubling them up into one leg support would be incredibly strong and long-lasting.

Also the wall will be heavier then you realize and making it have angles that change will require you to come-up with a good way to support the wall while changing the legs. I assume it is doable but probably not the easiest thing to do.

Pictures of all of my different home walls: mountainproject.com/v/106638503


This wall below kind of shows the result you are looking for. The support on the far left side goes straight to the ground and is jammed against the garage wall.

Climbing Wall #3: fitted in one side of a 2 car garage.
Climbing Wall #3: fitted in one side of a 2 car garage.


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By Dan Cucci
Jun 14, 2011

If I understand, you already built three seperate frames the exact size of a piece of plywood and are planning to stack them on top of each other? There will be a fair amount of stress trying to rip those panels apart when you are hanging under them. I would cut one of your pieces of plywood in half, lengthwise, and use the 2'x8' pieces for the very top and very bottom of the wall. Use the two full sheets to overlap the three sections - one between bottom and middle and one between middle and top. And either bolt the sections together or use many screws.
You might also consider an extra 2x6x12' on each end to help with the stresses of those panels wanting to separate.
I agree with the the above comment on using the wall as part of the triangle to eliminate one framing member for your support.


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By JoeP
From Littleton, CO
Jun 14, 2011

If Dan's correct in that you have three separate sections that you intend to stack - yikes. Start over with 2x6x12s as the joists, much stronger and simpler.


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By slim
Administrator
Jun 14, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

ditto what JoeP said. you need the beams to be continuous (ie 12 feet long). if you try to link 3 separate frames, it is going to take a shit-ton of knick-knackery to cobble something adequate together.


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Jun 14, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

Well my first thought was to use 12 foot beams but it won't go through the hallway that i need it to because it's too large. So i had to use some thing smaller.

While at Lowe's today, I was told that using 6-8 1/2" bolts in a staggered pattern would be more than enough to hold the frames together, and not to place the frames stacked in the same fashion (as in 3 frames stacked on top of each other) but to place 2 vertically (tall section going top to bottom) and the last frame on top horizontally, and still using bolts. Would that decrease the stress? I was also told that if I wanted to stack them one on top of the other, I could place cross beams along the back of the studs, and that would make it like one panel.

Dan, I actually wanted to do that originally but I couldn't figure out the design. I wanted to make a 2' footboard and a 2' headboard but I couldn't figure out how and still make it freestanding.


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By Andy Librande
From Denver, CO
Jun 14, 2011
Me in the Buddha Cave at crumblewood a while ago.

Evan Sanders wrote:
6-8 1/2" bolts in a staggered pattern would be more than enough to hold the frames together, and not to place the frames stacked in the same fashion (as in 3 frames stacked on top of each other) but to place 2 vertically (tall section going top to bottom) and the last frame on top horizontally, and still using bolts.


This will work. A lot more effort on your part but it will be strong.

The other option would be to combine the three frames together and then put the 4x8 plywood sheets on the opposite way to reinforce the frame (using your example above for the frames and then for the 4x8 plywood put one sheet horizontally at the bottom and two vertical at the top). This would be an easy way to add rigidness to the structure.


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By Dan Cucci
Jun 14, 2011

Evan Sanders wrote:
While at Lowe's today, I was told that using 6-8 1/2" bolts in a staggered pattern would be more than enough to hold the frames together, and not to place the frames stacked in the same fashion (as in 3 frames stacked on top of each other) but to place 2 vertically (tall section going top to bottom) and the last frame on top horizontally, and still using bolts. Would that decrease the stress?


That would be better, yes, since you would only have one bad joint instead of two. It's still not the best way to build it, but if it's all you're able to do it may be workable. Make sure you put big washers on those bolts and nuts.

Evan Sanders wrote:
Dan, I actually wanted to do that originally but I couldn't figure out the design. I wanted to make a 2' footboard and a 2' headboard but I couldn't figure out how and still make it freestanding.


Not sure we are on the same page as far as head/foot board. I was making a suggestion on how to apply the plywood to better reinforce the wall (see photo).

As has been mentioned, whenever possible if you can have the lumber for the wall be full length that is by far the better option.


reinforcement
reinforcement


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By slim
Administrator
Jun 14, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

the bolted connection would work OK (definitely not optimal though) in terms of strength, but you will probably have problems with deflection. i wouldn't advise it.

same thing goes for using the plywood as the only connection by overlapping the frames.

if you are going to gthis route, you probably want to combine the options. bolt the frames together, and then use plywood (preferably on both sides of the wall) to overlap the joints.

also, i wouldn't really advise taking structural suggestions from folks who work at lowes or home depot.


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By Kevin Stricker
From Evergreen, CO
Jun 14, 2011

I think Dan's drawing above would work but I will say that your design is way sub-par and potentially dangerous. I would probably add some 3/8" or 1/2" plywood on the back as well to make a torsion box, but you could get away with diagional bracing. You really need to tie more than the edges of the top frame back into the "real" frame, bolting them together is not going to cut it as the weak link will be the frame to plywood connection. Consider using #10 x 2" screws to attach the plywood to the frame and sub floor adhesive as well. I would also rebuild this frame so that the joists are aligned vertically.

You are not going to be able to adjust the wall from the top without mechanical advantage or pulleys as a 8x12 wall will be between 600 to 1000 lbs depending on how many t-nuts and holds you have on it. I would have the frame bolt into the posts with a bit of play and figure out a system to raise/lower the bottom of the wall. With a 8' lever arm you should be able to do it.

An alternative and much safer design would be a 8x8 wall at 45 degrees with a 4x8 wall above at 15 to 30 degrees. Then you can tie the top back into the steep wall with additional framing and the top wall would be above the support posts vs cantalevered.


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By Yarp
Jun 15, 2011

Kevin Stricker wrote:
I will say that your design is way sub-par and potentially dangerous.


Now that right there is some funny shit!

Your wall isn't dangerous Evan it's just gonna look like a retarded monkey that had absolutely zero understanding of carpentry built it.

Do as you have been advised and you will learn from your mistake.

Your next wall will be better...I guarantee it.


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By MattB
Jun 15, 2011

+1 on potentially dangerous setup!

I think you can make your wall idea bomber, though...

you need to think about the forces involved... compression on the upper side, and tension on the lower, climbing side... as it wants to bow in as you're cranking, burling the gnarl..

so.. you could stack up your frames... with the most studs oriented in a vertical manner... hopefully lined up a bit too... and place the ply-would in a vertical manner, one side in the upper corner, one in the other lower corner... and half pieces to fit the other corners.

and probably a bit more tension members... i suggest some 2x4x8-10 footers screwed on the underside(climbing side). The 4" side screwed flat to the wall(2x6 frame members, and 'specially the horizonatal 2x6s), from the foot up, and the head down, overlapping a bit in the most heavily stressed middle height area. I would build this in a steep chevron=like pattern, and shape it for a pinch/ lay-back rail..

For the braces leading from the wall to the floor, a 2x6 on each side should work, and slightly more vertical than the wall.

Great luck! Be careful of advice from Lowe's.. and online

Good luck on the adjusting part


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By Culver
From Colorado Springs, CO
Jun 15, 2011
top of Blodgett's

MattB wrote:
Be careful of advice from Lowe's.. and online


haha


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Jun 15, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

Kevin Stricker wrote:
An alternative and much safer design would be a 8x8 wall at 45 degrees with a 4x8 wall above at 15 to 30 degrees. Then you can tie the top back into the steep wall with additional framing and the top wall would be above the support posts vs cantalevered.


Can you explain this a little better? I'm trying to envision what your saying but I'm having some trouble. Also, what would the extra framing look like?

EDIT: Is this something like what you mean? Red is the bracing and addition framing, black is the wall. I realize the framing might be wrong, but hopefully someone can help me out with that.

Wall2
Wall2


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Jun 15, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

Yarp wrote:
Your wall isn't dangerous Evan it's just gonna look like a retarded monkey that had absolutely zero understanding of carpentry built it.


I don't know anything about looking like a retarded monkey but as for carpentry....well you pretty much hit the nail on the head (*background rimshot*). Anything past a flat wall and I'm dumbfounded.


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By Kevin Stricker
From Evergreen, CO
Jun 15, 2011

Your last photo looks like you got the idea. Probably not adjustable, but will be more interesting and safer to climb on.

I would add a triangular brace to the front of the post as well to keep it from wanting to rock forward, or you could put some sandbags on the bottom back of the wall for counterweight.

If you still have the vertical panels built seperately then add an additional full length header and footer tying the two frames together. I would rebuild the top frame so that the vertical joists are cut with a miter to attach directly into the double top header. once the frame is built add the plywood so it runs over to cover the bottom plate of the upper wall and the transition.

The rear frame pieces should attach to the top joists below the top header and back down as far onto the lower frames as you can get them. Ideally using 3/8" hex bolts but 3-4 #10 x 3" screws would be OK as well. I would use at least 3 of them but 4 would be better.

Look into Simpson post tie connectors to attach the wall to the posts, which should be either 4x4's or doubled 2x6's. They are in their own section at HD or Lowes and there will be lots to choose from.

You can shoot me an email if you run into a roadblock and I will try to help.


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By JoeP
From Littleton, CO
Jun 15, 2011

Here's something else to consider. I gather the reason you are wanting to make it free standing is because you are renting and will want to move it out when your lease is up. If that is the case, cobbling together your existing structures with all of the headers and whatnot is going to be a royal PITA to remove. If it were me, I would just start over and build a proper 8x8 wall, which is more than enough for a good workout, and will be simple to remove and rebuild in another location. Not to mention it will be lighter and make the adjustable part way easier to work with.


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Jun 15, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

So i've got a few different options now. I'm finishing things up this weekend so I'll take some photos of the finished product.

Option 1: Deconstruct the whole thing and start over. This probably won't happen as due to the space constraints going into the room (stupid skinny hallway) I can't get anything bigger than an 8 foot beam inside.

Option 2: Build a flat wall, 2 vertical frames and one horizontal frame bolted together, plywood overlapping the frames for extra support and cross support beams on the back. This is a maybe. General consensus seems to be it would be safe but ill advised. So I'm sitting on this idea for now.

Option 3: Kevin's alternative, 8x8 foot flat wall with a separate 4x8 panel on top and extra framing in the back. This would be the ideal option as of right now, safer and seems more fun. I'd be a little wary of it being top heavy though, but that's nothing more support beams won't fix. Also I may not have the construction and carpentry skills to make the frame in the back. I have way too many questions about specifics of that design and not enough answers. It seems very doable, I'm just not sure how

Option 4: Just stick with a single 8x8 panel. Easy, doable, but not quite as fun. This is my final option.


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By Andy Librande
From Denver, CO
Jun 15, 2011
Me in the Buddha Cave at crumblewood a while ago.

Evan Sanders wrote:
SOption 2: Build a flat wall, 2 vertical frames and one horizontal frame bolted together, plywood overlapping the frames for extra support and cross support beams on the back. This is a maybe. General consensus seems to be it would be safe but ill advised. So I'm sitting on this idea for now.


I still vote this option. If you are really worried about stress you can put two support beams, one at the top and one at the upper frame join (on the lower frame just below the upper frame connection). Beef up some of the back support and use a metal strap diagonally across the back to help with flex.


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Jun 20, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

UPDATE: I think I've got the design I want to use, it seems safer and still a lot of fun. Still have a couple of questions so if anyone wants to help me out I'd appreciate it. Here's the design:

wall3
wall3


A is a 4x4 (haven't cut length yet)
B is an 8 foot 4x4 attached with a 1/2" bolt just below the header of the 8x8 wall
C is a 12 foot (maybe slightly less, need to measure) 2x6 laid down flat
D is a 4x8 roof centered on top the 8x8 main wall (main wall is a 15-20 degree overhang)

First, any thoughts about the design? The two frames making up the 8x8 are solid and don't flex at all (even with me hanging off the middle), but I haven't attached the third frame yet to make the roof. Also, is my system for the bracing and making it freestanding okay? Or is there anything I can do to make it more structurally sound?

Also I had an idea for working on topping out but wasn't sure if it was safe or not. My thought was to attach another piece of 4x8 plywood on top of the roof (where "D" is) and put some holds on top. Then the finishing move would be to finish on top of the roof. Again, wasn't sure if it was safe or not or if anyone had tried that.


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By slim
Administrator
Jun 21, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

make beam 'B' go down to the intersection of 'A' and 'C'. or, if your 'B' isn't long enough or you don't have enough room, you could put in another member between the intersection of A and D, and the intersection of B and C. having your members form triangles will greatly increase the warp resistance. alternatively, if you used some plywood to sheet the sides, that will provide the warp resistance as well.

looks pretty cool, let us know how it comes out.


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By Dan Cucci
Jun 21, 2011

I agree with slim's post - and if you add a member it really doesn't have to be much - a 2x4 would do.

The bigger issue may be the 'A' end of the whole wall system wanting to simply fall over sideways when you make bigger moves out near the end of the roof. You could build trangular outriggers or maybe the whole thing is close enough to the neighboring walls of the room so they can catch it. Once you have what you are already planning built you will be able to wobble the whole thing a bit and see just how much side-to-side support will be needed.


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By slim
Administrator
Jun 21, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

good call on the side to side, i forgot to mention that.


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By JoeP
From Littleton, CO
Jun 21, 2011

I would increase the angle of the main wall to 30-45 degrees, because you'll become bored with 15-20.

How can C be 12' long? You said earlier that you can't fit a 12' length board through the hallway.

Should be a fun wall when complete!


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Jun 21, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

JoeP wrote:
I would increase the angle of the main wall to 30-45 degrees, because you'll become bored with 15-20. How can C be 12' long? You said earlier that you can't fit a 12' length board through the hallway. Should be a fun wall when complete!


Two 6 footers put together. It's excess wood so it maybe be slightly shorter than 12, but that's my guess. It's worked out pretty well so far, I thought I would have the mess I had when I was trying to figure out how to put the frames together, but it's a pretty solid base.


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By Andy Librande
From Denver, CO
Jun 21, 2011
Me in the Buddha Cave at crumblewood a while ago.

If you want an overhang copy my wall below:

Wall with latest feature attachment. The Optimus Arm (the giant blue thing) adds a full dihedral type climbing, plus lots more foot options as you get to the lip.
Wall with latest feature attachment. The Optimus Arm (the giant blue thing) adds a full dihedral type climbing, plus lots more foot options as you get to the lip.


Climbing Wall #4 (2008-?): Current wall freestanding in my backyard. Biggest wall yet with fun roof. Only downside is weather dependent.
Climbing Wall #4 (2008-?): Current wall freestanding in my backyard. Biggest wall yet with fun roof. Only downside is weather dependent.


from this thread: mountainproject.com/v/general_climbing/what_does_your_woody_>>>

There is little to no flex in the wall. A few key things on that wall is that duel upright supports off of the top corners;the ones going back into the wall from the top corner offers 100% of the strength while the ones going from the front positioned out prevent the structure from flipping forward.

The entire back piece is just 2x4's with the plywood. The 2x4's on the right and left sides are extra long to allow for the top to be attached using a single lag bolt on each side. The top piece is a 2x4 frame with a 2x6 header (pictured with all of the snow sticking to its front) and then I built an additional strength across the middle which was two 2x4's screwed together forming a 90 degree angle and then screwing that into the upper frame.

For the angle all it is a lag bolt on each side put through the 2x4's which allows for you to modify the angle at time of building. Also the 2x8 supports that go out from the wall are all put into place with two bolts per connection.

The only thing I would like to change would be to put a footer at the bottom around 16" high to make the bottom section a little higher and make better use of the feet. Currently the bottom angle is only about 6.5-7ft high before getting into the roof which is a little low.

It has been outdoors now for 14+ months and has some signs of weathering but has not had any issues. The structure literally just sits on top of the ground and hasn't moved or shifted. I probably need to put some standard house siding on the top and back to prevent more weathering sometime soon, but it has not been a problem. Let me know if you have any questions, I can also take detail photos if my explanations above need more clarification.


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