Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The SqueezeBox - An Adjustable Crack Hangboard






The following project gives the basic steps I used in creating the Squeeze Box, an adjustable crack hangboard. Here are some of it's features:
  1. adjustable up to OW (hand-fist stack)
  2. hangs from one or two suspension points
  3. option of mounting a hangboard or holds on the two outside surfaces
  4. can be hung vertical or horizontal
  5. adjustable for parallel, incut or flared crack
  6. angle of board can be adjusted to make crack/holds easier or harder.
  7. fairly reasonable cost to build
The board is based on a set of Jorgensen #1 wood clamps that I obtained on Ebay. I think I paid around $16 for the set. Since I wanted the board width to be 8", the ends of the clamps were cut off. For my hands 8" is plenty wide, though they could be left full size.


In order to get the clamps apart (normally they are designed so they can't be disassembled), approximately 3/8"-1/2" is cut off the end of one of the threaded rods of each clamp. This allows the clamps to be disassembled when fully unscrewed. The clamps need to be disassembled in order to attach to the wood plates.


For the wood plates I used two layers of 3/4" plywood glued and screwed together. This also allows T-nuts to be added should you desire to use bolt-on holds. Overall dimensions the plates are 8" x 25". The width should be adjusted to fit the hangboard, if you plan on attaching one. I would suggest the ideal size could range between 24"-27". One half of each plate is 3" shorter to make a lap joint where the wood clamps are attached.  Notice the holes drilled for the wood clamp threaded rods to pass through. (Note: 2 x 10 pine lumber [1 1/2" x 9 1/4" actual size] could be used instead of plywood, however you'd need a table saw and dado blade to cut the lap joint notches on the end of the plates.)


The two halves of peach plate are then screwed and glued together, making sure that the screws are screwed from the outside so the inside surfaces of the crack remain smooth. Shown below are both finished plates (one of the plates has the Continuum Board attached (discussed in a prior blog post).


This shows the wooden clamps attached with glue and two large wood screws.


Clamps reassembled to form the basic Squeeze Box frame. Notice also the bottom inside edges of the crack were rounded for comfort


A 10' strap from Strampworks.com was used to provide the sling. The strap was cut as shown below and ends were doubled and a screw hole burned through both layers with a hot nail. They were then attached with 1 1/2" long wood screws with heavy 1" washers. The angle of hangboard is adjusted by changing the hang loop length on the quick-release buckle side.


Finished Squeeze Box hangboard. It can be hung from one or two points. For a Horizontal mount, two suspension points provides more stability. For vertical orientation, it is hung from a single suspension point.




Note: The inside crack surface was left as natural wood. Texture could be added via fine grit sandpaper or a textured paint. However, caution should be used as if intensive training is done on it, hands could easily be abraded. I've chosen to use it with tape or crack gloves.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

6GRIPS: The Simplest, Most Versatile Training Grips You've Never Seen


When I started up SICgrips one of my main observations was that most hangboards and training grips devoted an inordinate amount of space for edges/pockets/crimps. Whether a pocket, a 1-2 joint edge, or crimp, they are all basically the same grip/hand position. This is fine if you mainly do face climbs with edges, but it leaves out many other grip positions that most climbers encounter.  If one were to just use one edge that could serve multiple uses, then the grips could include other hand positions and would provide a more balanced and functional training tool. In addition if you are able to adjust them around all three axis (vertical, horizontal and rotational), you would have a super versatile set of training grips that are easy on the joints. This is one of the main design principles behind our Gstring PROs and Pocket Rock training grips.

6GRIPS offer the following grip positions:

  1. half-hand sloper (4.5" diameter)
  2. wide pinch 
  3. medium pinch
  4. large rounded jug
  5. flat or sloping edge (half-hand, 2nd joint, or first joint)/variable depth crimp
  6. variable difficulty round/sloper crimp
Grips can also be lowered and used for suspended push-ups or dips/press-ups.


While they are not as sexy as our Gstring PROs or Pocket Rocks, these grips are simple, versatile, cheap to make, compact, and lightweight (18 oz.), If all the materials are gathered ahead of time, they could be made in an afternoon and, depending upon materials that you may already have, they can be made for as little as $10. However, if you have to go out and buy everything, they'll cost considerably more, though you'll end up with materials to make at least two  or more sets because of the minimum quantity most hardware stores sell.

We have strayed somewhat from one of our guiding principles in our last two DYI projects: Continuum Board and gBar. However this current project is a return to our roots and offers the DIYer a very simple and versatile set of grips with minimal cost, time and number of tools.

Materials:


  • 1/2" x 6" x 4.5" piece of poplar plank for hardwood plywood
  • 6" piece of 4" dia. PVC (2' is usually the minimum quantity you can buy)
  • 3/4" half-round x 6" x 2 pieces hardwood (oak or poplar - hardware stores frequently sell this as trim and is sold in 8 foot lengths)
  • 5mm x 10' accessory cord
  • 2 sheets of 320 grit sheet sandpaper or a roll of 4.5" wide PDA (pressure sensitive adhesive) sandpaper
  • contact cement if not using PSA sandpaper
  • 24 - #4 1" wood screws
  • epoxy

Tools:

  • drill
  • hand saw (I used a Japanese pull saw but a table saw is even better if you have access to one)
  • screw driver

Assembly Notes:

The grips shown are 6" wide - you can modify the width to suite the size of your hands.

4.5" wide PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive 320 sandpaper is what I used. You could also use sheet sandpaper and contact cement. With sheet sandpaper, it could go the whole width of the grip, however the cord will rub on it and wear faster. Update: I've actually ended up removing the sandpaper. I like it better without. I've roughed up the wood and PVC with 80 grit sandpaper, then used a rosin bag along with chalk to increase friction. Very easy on skin!

4 wood screws were used to hold the PVC to the 1/2" wood. I used epoxy with rubber bands to hold in place and once it was set a bit (5 minutes) I drilled the holes and put the screws in. Make sure to counter sink the hole so that the screw heads will fit flush.

If cutting the 1/2" wood on a table saw, use a 5 deg. blade tilt to help match it to the inside diameter of the PVC pipe. Otherwise if you use a hand saw, slightly sand the edges to match the curve on the inside diameter of the PVC.

Three wood screws were used to hold the 1/2 round to the grip and they were put in at an angle. This was done so they didn't come through the 1/2" wood and to make sure the screw head were away from the primary surface where the fingers would be contacting it.

Round, the edge of the PVC on the side away from the crimp to a radius that feels comfortable to your fingers. For me this was somewhere around a 1/4"r to 5/16"r.

If using standard 5mm accessory cord to string it, drill 3/16" holes on the side of the grip for the knots. On the other side of the grip where the cord will slide through for adjustment, drill 1/4" or 5/16" holds so that the cord will fit through easier and will make moving grip positions easier.

   

Additional Notes:

  • Precise control over the width of the flat edge crimp is obtained by cutting two extra pieces of the 3/4" half-round, each 1/2" wider than the width of your grip to create an adjustable finger stop.  They can be adjusted setting to pencil lines at 1/8"intervals. Use a rubber band around the ends to hold in place and slide to the desired crimp depth. When not in use they can either be removed or stored out of the way on the inside of the grip.
  • optional girth or prusik loop for doorway use while traveling. See our Pocket Rocks page for more info.
  • For a way to easily reset the grips back to a previous position/angle, use marks or dental floss as shown here.
  • If you desire to have a bar instead of individual grips, you can create one 18" long grip. This means you'd only have to adjust the cords once instead of for each individual grip and it's also a bit simpler to make. However the disadvantage is that it will weight about 40% more and you will not be able to rotate the grips around the vertical axis for comfort. If you have elbow issues using individual grips will allow you to find a more comfortable angle and put less stress on your elbows.
  • To train a specific grip type, drill a hole and mount a T-nut in the center of each grip. This gives the option of mounting a small-medium size wall hold. It's easiest to add the T-nut before the PVC and wood are screwed together, though it can still be added after they are finished.
  • It's possible to make Simple Grips with the RipCord easy adjustment system of the Gstring PROs. However this will increase their cost; they will hang 3 inches lower; weigh 8 oz. more; and it will increase the complexity of making them. If interested, see this blog post for the basics of how to do this. 

Using

  • mount or hang the same has for our Pocket Rocks or Gstrings
  • Different sets of grip positions are accessed by either sliding cord to change the relative size of each loop, or by flipping cords to the other side of the grips (see the first photo at top of blog).
  • Reverse your hand hand positions (palms facing you) to train for underclings
These grips offer most everything a normal hangboard, hangbar, or commercial training grips offer.   About the only thing they don't cover are cracks which no commercial hangboard yet covers. We still hope to produce our prototype Crack Rack as a commercial product and our next two DYI projects (the SqueezeBox and GrooveTube) will offer crack training. Stay tuned.


Monday, January 30, 2017

gBar: A Do-It-Yourself Hang-Bar - Part 3

I'm finally getting around to finishing up the series on making the gBar. Hopefully if you've actually constructed one you've figured out a sling system to hang and be able to adjust it. However I'll finish out the series showing two methods for how I've done it. I'm sure there are other ways also. The sling loops needs to be adjustable and they need to be able to be flipped to the other side in order access all the grip positions that the bar is capable of. Note: both these methods are slightly different than the original photos posted.

The first slinging method is fairly simple but not quite as aesthetic and functionally not quite as good. In this method, you'll drill four holes through the bar as shown below. On one side the holes are 5/16" and on the other 3/16". The reason for this is to make the adjustment a bit easier on the side with the larger holes, while helping to secure the cord on the side with the knots so the cord doesn't slide around. The knots should be tied on the side with the smaller holes.




The second method, though a bit more complex, ends up being a bit nicer in appearance because there are no external knots and it's a bit easier to adjust because of the cord path. The 5/16" holes on one end are drilled as shown and consist of two holes drilled so that the cord path makes approximately a  45 deg. bend. The 3/16" holes are drilled on the other end. Then perpendicular to the cord path two countersunk 1/16" holes for 1" #6 wood screws. Instead of the knots securing the end, the ends are inserted into their respective holed and then secured with the wood screws giving a nice clean finish.




It's possible to use 6mm cord instead of 5mm but all holes will need to be increased slightly in size.

When using the gBar the different grip types are accessed by changing the relative size of the hang loops by sliding the cord though the bar on the side where it it free to slide. Also for some of the grip positions you'll need to flip the cords to the other side of the bar.

Here's a summary of the grips available on the gBar the position/angle the bar needs to be adjust to:


Any of the grip positions can be made harder or easier by adjusting the sling slightly to change the hang angle.

Update

The gBar can also be made with the RipCord quick release adjustment system used by the Gstring PROs. This would allow you to quickly adjust the angle of the bar/type of grip without having to remove the bar from its mount.

You will need 2 x 3 feet pieces of 5mm accessory cord. More if you want it to hang lower. Use the screw method for securing the ends of the cord as described above. For the rest of the instructions, follow steps #8-19 from our previous post on the Quick Release system. Thread both rings onto both cords together instead of crossing them as described.

The result should end up looking like this:


To access all the grips positions, for some you will need to flips the bottom cords around the ends while it is hanging.

Update #2

I am now experimenting with making them as follows. It includes all the grip positions of the original but makes the three-finger pockets into two-finger pockets (duos) and adds monos. The monos are drilled 1.5" deep and since it's positioned to take advantage of the 5/8" rounded crimper, it gives it a "comfort" edge and increase the depth slightly. The bar is now a full 18" wide compared to the shorter 15" bar above. Notice the slight change in position of the top cord holes to make it slightly more functional.


This same layout could be further modified by adding a one-arm mono and one-arm duo in the center of the board if you're strong enough to train train them. That's above my "pay grade" so I'll leave it to you beasts out there to add those.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

The next do-it-yourself project will be a set of grips that are super simple and cheap to make out of plywood and PVC pipe.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

gBar: A Do-It-Yourself Hang-Bar - Part 2

Materials: I used poplar wood throughout obtained at a local hardware store. 3/4" birch plywood could be used instead of the solid 3/4" poplar plank.

Note: the width of the finger slots/holes/pockets are all 3/4". If you have large fingers, you may want to increase their size to 7/8" or 1" to fit your fingers. If you use a larger size , make sure you increase the overall width of the board accordingly.

Dowels were bought from local hardware store and cut in half. To do this you need a table or band saw. It's also possible cut the 2" dia. dowel in half with a hand saw but that would be tricky. Here is a link to a simple jig that can be used to safely cut the dowels in half length-wise on a table saw. A Google search will yield other jigs for use with a bandsaw.

If you don't have access to a table or band saw it's possible to buy half-rounds from various wood suppliers. The 3/4" half-rounds can often be obtain in the molding/trim section of a large hardware store.

All dimensions for constructing the gBar are listed (or can be inferred from) on the dimensioned drawing in the previous post.

Here is the step-by-step process:
  1. Cut the 3/4" x 3.5" x 18" base board of the bar
  2. Cut the three dowels to 18" in length then slice/cut in half
  3. Round one edge of the base board to 1/2" radius. I used a router for this but could be done easily by hand with a file/rasp/plane/ or sandpaper.


  4. Layout with pencil on the board where the finger slots and dowels will go making sure that the rounded edge (of step #3 above) is on the opposite side of where the 3/4" half-round dowel will go.
  5. Cut the finger slots: I used a drill press to cut these holes by using a fence and repeatedly drilling a series of holes until the desired length of each finger slot is obtained. This is slow and tedious but if done carefully can yield good finger slot. You could also use a plunge router which be easier and give a nicely finished slot. If you don't have a router or drill press, you could use a hand drill to drill a 3/4" hole at each end of each finger slot. Then use a reciprocating saw or hand coping saw to cut out the material between the holes.
  6. Radius the bottom edge of the finger slots that will be on the back side of the board. I used a 1/4" radius router bit but this can easily be done by hand. The goal is to get a radius that will be comfortable on your fingers when hanging. The top part of the finger pocket will be be radiused by the 5/8" dowel


  7. Attach the 2" half-round dowel to the base board. Use 3 #6 1-1/2" wood screws and wood glue. I used wood clamps to hold in position while I pre-drilled slightly smaller holes for the wood screws. If you measured and cut correctly, the edge of the 2" half-round should line up with the edge of the finger slot and the edge of the board.


  8. Do the same with the 3/4" half round dowel except use 3 - #6 x 1" wood screws. This should line up with the other edge of the finger slot and the other edge of the board.
  9. Attach the 5/8" half-round on the back side of the board. I did this with the 6 - 3d 1-1/4" finish nails and glue.
  10. This photo show optional holes drilled in the finger pockets to increase the depth for monos by 1/2"-3/4" more. It also shows optional 1/4" hole drilled in the middle of the finger pocket to help facilitate pushing the shims out from the other side if they are used.


  11. Shims can easily be made by trimming 3/4" craft sticks/tongue depressors with scissors and then smoothing with sandpaper. In use, this allows you to increase the difficultly by 1mm at a time. They can also be created with non-corrogated cardboard. Layers can be glued together to make the thickness desired or they can be used with double-sided cellophane tape to adjust on the fly...or if they are trimmed carefully they can have a press fit and then pushed from the other side via the optional access holes shown above.



    All packed and ready to go in my carry-on...


Next blog I'll cover two different ways to sling and adjust the bar.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

gBar: A Do-It-Yourself Hang-Bar - Part 1


This will be four-part series that gives an overview of how to make the gBar portable training bar. It is an incredibly versatile hang bar that utilizes both sides of the board, has adjustable 360 degree angle around the horizontal axis, and hangs from a single point. It can be made for as little as $15, depending upon materials you have on hand, tools available, and your skill level. It combines some of the features we've used on our Gstrings, Pocket Rocks and Contiuum Boards and offers the following grip positions: 
  • jug
  • half hand flat edge or flat sloper
  • 2" finger sloper
  • 3/4" edge (adjustable depth via shims)
  • 1/2" edge (adjustable depth via shims)
  • 1" - comfort edged 1/2/3 finger pocket
  • 1.7" - comfort edged 1/2/3 finger pocket 
  • 5/8" rounded crimp sloper
  • 3/4" rounded crimp sloper
  • 1/2" and 3/4" flat edges can be modified for depth using shims to make the edges as small as desired.
The rounded crimps & slopers can be made easier or harder by changing the angle of the bar. This changes the surface contact area of the fingers on the grip. In the same way, edges, pockets and the flat sloper can also be made easier or harder.

The bar is 3.5" x 18" and weighs ~1.5 lb. depending upon what type of wood you use and the density of it. The bar can easily be modified to suit your needs and desires. This is what works for me and a starting point for your creativity!

There are a number of portable training bars/boards on the market already. If you don't have the skills to make one, then check these out...or our Gstring or Pocket Rock climbing grips:

An important caveat: If you have shoulder or elbow problems or have had tendonitis, consider using individual grips that can rotate around the vertical axis. This allows more flexibility in elbow/shoulder position than a bar/board type of device where both hands are always in the same plane. If you are training with repeaters, use additional weight, or do long intensive training sessions, it can lead to repetitive stress type of injuries. If you think this is, or could be an issue for you, check out our grips at sic.grips.com - they are infinitely adjustable in all planes and allow the most comfort in training.
This first blog post will give an overview; dimensions, and materials. The second blog post will give basic construction advice; the third post will describe different ways of slinging it; and the final post will give pointers on how to use it.



the basic ingredients ready to be assembled

Materials:
  • 18" x 3.5" x 3/4" plank (poplar, birch plywood or other hardwood)
  • 2" half round dowel (2" x 1" x 18") - poplar, birch other other hardwood
  • 3/4" half round dowel (3/4" x 3/8" x 18") - poplar, birch other other hardwood
  • 5/8" half round dowel  (5/8" x 5/16") - poplar, birch other other hardwood
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  • 3 - #6 - 1.5" wood screws
  • 3 - #6 - 1" wood screws
  • 6 - 3d 1.25" finish nails
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  • 7'-8' - 5mm or 6mm accessory cord
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  • wood glue

Tools:

Minimally you will need a hand saw, drill and hammer. If you can not obtain or have someone halve the dowels for you lengthwise, you will need a table or band saw to slice the dowels in half length-wise.

PS - in case it was not obvious, the name for the bar came from the "g" cross section of the bar. Several people who've tried it did not immediately make the connection.

    Thursday, May 5, 2016

    Portable Training Tripod



    The Training Tripod is a portable stand for making a workout station for hangboards, hanging portable climbing holds, or other training devices. The idea was adapted from Tom Linder's original idea over on Training Beta's Blog. We have used it at climbing festivals to showcase our training products and allow people to try them, as well as running dead-hang comps as a fund raiser for the American Alpine Club.




    The main differences between mine and Tom's are that it collapses to 5' for travel and has the wooden triangle hanger which provides three sides from which to hang training devices. It also helps set the correct leg spacing each time the tripod is set up. I suggest that your read his description first on how to create the Training Tripod and then decide if you'd like to make the collapsible version with 3 training stations.








    The tripod is made out of 10' section of 1.5" diameter conduit pipe. Each leg is cut in half and a 3/16" wall 1.5" i.d. x 6" long aluminum pipes epoxied to one end of each of the legs. This provides a slip-fit joint which is held in place by gravity when assemble and makes setting up and taking down a snap. I tried originally using 1.5" conduit joints but they were too short and the fit too sloppy to provide a decent joint. I obtained the aluminum pipe from a friend's machine shop.







    The top joint is held together by 3/8" carriage bolt, several washers, a lock washer, and a wing nut. The holes drilled are 1/2" to allow a bit of play which makes it easier to set up and adjust. The measurements for drilling the holes are: Middle tube - both holes are 2/14" from the end.
    Side tubes - one hole is 2 1/4" from the end; the other is 2 3/4" from the end.







    The stops for the wooden tripod to rest on are 3/8" x 3 1/2" carriage bolts with washers and a lock nut. The holes for them are drilled 26" from the end of the top half of each tripod leg. However, this is totally dependent upon how high you want the wooden triangle to be mounted. I suggest making and setting up the basic tripod without the wooden triangle so you can determine how high up off the ground you want it, then drill the holes accordingly for each leg.





    The wooden tripod is made out of 2x4 lumber measured and cut to fit once the tripod is set up and the desired angle achieved. Make sure before making the measurement for the wooden triangle that each leg of the tripod are equal distance from each other. Each leg of the wooden triangle is approximately 23" except for one leg that was left longer so that a weight reduction pulley system could eventually be mounted which is 30" long. This was cut longer so the suspended weight would not interfere with the climber. Each angled end is cut at 60 degrees.




    This was the trickiest part to make because the length of each leg will determine what angle the assembled tripod sits at. Measure twice (or three times) and cut once! The desired angle between each of the wooden braces is 60 degrees to form an equilateral triangle.



    The wooden triangle mount is held together with 2 #10 3-1/2"wood screws in each end and then 3-1/8-in x 7-in nail plates and mending plates.




    The Training Tripod could easily be created without this part as Lindner did if you intend to only mount one item at a time such as a hangboard. This would make construction significantly easier. See his description for how they mounted a hangboard that was easy to swap out for other training boards. We decided to use the wooden triangle mount so that we could use the tripod for climbing festivals to display and use three products at once and have multiple people using them.






    We added J-bolts drilled through the width of each leg of the wooden triangle so that they were free to pivot into place and "hook" the bolts on the tripod leg that it rests on. This "locks" it into place so that when in use the triangle won't move or be flipped up by weighting the opposite side. Each side of the wooden mounting triangle had had one J-bolt corresponding to the tripod bolt that it was resting on.










    1/2" holes for ground stakes - optional if you're going to use the tripod on a lawn or in the dirt.  This will keep keep the tripod from shifting around. Use a solid spike or tent peg.











    Assembled tripod with weight reduction pulleys temporarily hung with accessory cord.  Eye bolts will be added later to make a permanent mount for the pulleys.












    The tripod with Crack Rack, Pocket Rocks, and Gstrings hung and ready to use. The Crack Rack is mounted to a 2x10 backing board that has two 3/8" open-eye lag screws so that it can be quickly hung or removed from 3/8" bolts in the wooden triangle. The bottom of the 2x10 was shaved off at an angle so the board would sit vertically when hung. The same mounting system could be used for a hang board or board with climbing holds mounted to it.








    Additional thoughts and ideas:

    If you are going to use the tripod on cement or asphalt, it might be worthwhile considering putting 1/4" bolts through the bottom of each leg and then connecting it with vinyl coated braided wire. This would also help in setting it up by setting the correct distance that the legs are able to spread and thus the correct angles for the tripod. I would also consider cutting the ends of the legs so that they would sit flush on the ground.

    I've toyed with the idea of eliminating one of the legs and substituting a pair of 2x10s spaced by 3/8' bolts to make an adjustable crack. I'd have to eliminate the wood triangle and figure out another way to mount the products. This would add versatility but would definitely increase the hassle in moving and transporting. For portable crack training it's much easier to use our prototype Crack Rack so we'll probably will not go this route.

    Stay tuned - we'll also be publishing some plans for how to make your own simplified version of the Crack Rack called the Squeeze Box. It is relatively simple to make based on using a pair of wood clamps, is easily adjustable and can be hung most anywhere.