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Best wood type for hangboard and holds


Original Post
Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 5

I'm going to start off just making a rail for hanging on for finger training, but plan to expand from there. For those in know what type of wood is best for these applications? I'm thinking something with a good natural grain like maple or oak, maybe ash? I have access to some yellow cedar and a few others too. 

Andrew Child · · Santa Clara · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 691

I've made a bunch of wooden holds and the wood type actually makes less of a difference than you would think, any roughly hold sized scrap of wood will do. That said I think in terms of ease of use and quality of the final product the best wood that I found was maple ply. I bought a large 3/4" sheet and cut and glued it into thicker blocks. The maple is really nice because its structural, but still soft enough that its easy to work. I ended up doing rough cuts on the table saw and band saw then sculpting the final product using a table sander.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205

I work at a gym that makes allot of home made holds and from what i have experienced pretty much any hard wood works fine and the craftsmanship is really what counts.

Beastmaker imo make some of the nicest wood holds on the market and they use beech, super nice on the skin.

Acmesalute76 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 66

I have a couple wood rails I've been using. One is PT pine and one is a piece of red oak flooring. The oak is considerably nicer. 

Any hardwood with a tight grain would be nicest. I think most hangboards are poplar which I haven't tried but feeling them in the store I wasn't that impressed. Maybe they smooth out. People seem to like them. 

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Acmesalute76 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 66
JCM wrote:

Can you give us a summary? The audio won't load for me. 

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

I don't recall the exact woods he mentioned, but the short answer is that it depends. Some woods are stronger but more slippery, and perform well for incut crimps where you need the wood to be strong enough to not break. Other woods aren't as strong but have nicer texture and feel, and work well for a big slopey loaf pinch where strength is not as important but friction is.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,800
JCM wrote:

I don't recall the exact woods he mentioned, but the short answer is that it depends. Some woods are stronger but more slippery, and perform well for incut crimps where you need the wood to be strong enough to not break. Other woods aren't as strong but have nicer texture and feel, and work well for a big slopey loaf pinch where strength is not as important but friction is.

I would think that for finger rails (OP's objective), it really doesn't matter much.  

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 481
Gunkiemike wrote:

I would think that for finger rails (OP's objective), it really doesn't matter much.  

I would think Friction matters if they're adding weight and it's less than one pad edges.

Will Anglin also discussed wood types on power company podcast a little bit ago.

S2k 4life · · Baltimore · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 111

Maybe a nice brown mahogooney?

Sean Peter · · IL · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 80

I actually made some adjustable hangboards for Christmas presents out of reclaimed wood this year.  The folks at the reclaimed wood shop didn't know for sure what the wood type was, but were guessing it was teak or mahogany  - - probably old teak decking.  They turned out pretty cool. I wanted something that would have incremental depths like a Transgression Board- but out of wood, and something that looked good. So I settled on one dedicated hang rail that can be removed and mounted with 4 different configurations (rounded edge, slightly rounded edge for shallower crimps, incut edge, and 10 degree sloping edge) - then added flip down shims to decrease the depth in 1 & 2/3mm increments (just the arbitrary thickness of the paint sticks I used for shims). Depth ranges from 5mm to 25mm.  The wood feels great to hang from as far as I can tell.  Honestly not that big a feel difference from the Beastmaker wood though obviously a quite different tree.


Here's all the pics:
https://www.mountainproject.com/album/114163353/homemade-teak-hangboard

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 124

Tension makes their boards out of poplar. Beastmaker uses North American tulipwood.

Rui Ferreira · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 868
David Kerkeslager wrote:

Tension makes their boards out of poplar. Beastmaker uses North American tulipwood.

tulipwood is also known as yellow poplar.  I mostly work with poplar as it is easier to machine with a router than some of the other hardwoods mentioned and it ages well for training holds. 

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 124
Rui Ferreira wrote:

tulipwood is also known as yellow poplar.

That explains my confusion when looking that up--I thought I remembered Beastmaker using poplar as well, but when their site said North American tulipwood I thought I had misremembered. If poplar = tulipwood, it turns out I remembered correctly after all.

Steven Smith · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

This thread comes up a lot in search results. The first time I read through this I came to the conclusion that poplar = tulipwood, but it turns out that's not the case. Tulipwood, even though called yellow poplar, is a completely different tree than poplar. It looks like tulipwood came to be called yellow poplar since the wood looks very similar to poplar. However, tulipwood is much stronger than poplar and it costs about three times as much.

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

All wood is basically the same, if you want texture you can paint it.

Glass Tupperware · · Atlanta · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 45

Hey! Do folks normally put any kind of finishing treatment on wood holds hangboards, or just leave the sanded finish raw?

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 124
Glass Tupperware wrote: Hey! Do folks normally put any kind of finishing treatment on wood holds hangboards, or just leave the sanded finish raw?

PRRose · · Boulder · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 0

American tulipwood is generally sold as poplar. It's cheap as far as hardwoods go. Brazilian tulipwood is an exotic hardwood that sells for far more.

I find that oak, hickory and mahogany are noticably splintery. Similarly, softwoods (fir, hemlock, spruce, the stuff construction lumber is made from) are prone to splintering. This can be mitigated by rounding edges and applying a finish.

Hardwoods such as poplar, birch, beech, alder, or cherry with straight, uniform grain should work well for edges. Glued up, high quality plywood works well for holds. The best is baltic birch. Note that there is a type of plywood sold at Home Depot and Lowes as hardwood plywood that has a crappy veneer that is prone to splintering--you have to go to a lumber yard or specialty hardwood dealer for real baltic birch plywood.

Or scavenge in dumpsters at construction sites. You'll get a lot of free construction lumber and fir plywood scraps. Sand well, round all edges, apply some finish, and keep an eye out for splinters.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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