Thursday, June 18, 2020

Taz Lov2 for Top Rope Soloing - A Review


The holy grail of TRS devices would be a device that allows me to freely climb with no slack build-up; be able to quickly lock-up when needed; and be able to rap whenever I desire without having to switch devices. Well that device is now here - it’s the TAZ Lov2. It’s not perfect in all these functions but good enough for me that it’s “the answer” for most situations. With the Lov2 the "sum" is greater than the "parts" (individual functions) and yields a device without peers.

I’m well into my second season of using the Lov2 and am quite happy with it’s performance in most situations. I’ll summarize my experience up front and then get more into the details. The Lov2 is the only all-in-one-dedicated-device that ticks all the boxes for TRSing for me. There are other devices that outperform it in a speciic function. However there is no other device that combines all the TRS functions into one device and performs at the level of the Lov2 without having to switch devices for rapping.  

I think an apt analogy is that it can be considered the Silent Partner of the TRS world. It's high quality and bomber construction inspires confidence. What's the "price" one has to pay for this?! It's big, heavy, and expensive - though none of these prohibitively so.  It is specifically  designed and tested for doing all the functions required for TRS (ascending, fall arresting, and descending) and does all of these functions at a fairly high level. None of the other devices that I know of meet all these criteria. I’ve used the Revo, various GGs, and the Eddy hoping that they (either in stock or modified form) might be the all-in-one-device of my dreams - but they all have major downsides. I dare say, I'm going out on a limb here, that even as the Silent Partner has developed a cult following in the LRS world, the Lov2 could have the same potential in the TRS world. However, just like the SP, it probably won't happen till it’s no longer available and people are scrambling to try and get one. The caveat here is the remote possibility that a newer device is designed and marketed that will outperform it - however I wouldn’t hold my breath.

PROS: Does it all (feeds well/locks-up relatively quick/decent rapping); great for doing laps; repeatedly working a section of a route; hanging top-outs; down-climbing; high quality/bomb proof construction that inspires confidence

CONS: Weight; size; price, rapping takes a bit of practice to master

So, that’s the summary of my experience…but the devil is in the details. Read on for all the salacious details of how I set it up; when I would and wouldn't use it; and some tricks I've learned.

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The following information is provided based on my experience which is continually evolving. This is not a "how-to" manual. If you use or rely on any of this info, you do so at your own risk. I encourage you to test and retest before committing to a course of action. You may find better set-ups for your own situation (route/rope/experience/degree of risk tolerance). Please let me know of your experiences and share on social media.

The Lov2 is not designed as a TRS device per se but more as a work and recreational device in the rope access and arborist's worlds - which is probably why most climbers have not heard of it. However, it IS designed and tested to fulfill all the three main functions required for TRSing - ascending, fall arresting, and descending. As I discuss it’s various characteristics and function, I’ll try to do so in relation to some of the other major devices on the market that I've used.

Specs: dynamic ropes: 9.5-11 Static 10-11 (see comparison chart at the end below)
Construction: stainless steel (all rope wear and structural parts), heavy duty aluminum side pates, and plastic handle and rope tension cleat
type of device: Straight through rope path with a tension cleat and pivoting rope pinch lever/arm

 

 

Setup
Review is based on using a 9.5 Black Diamond rope moderately worn and slightly fuzzy. 130 lb. climber

The Lov2 works best when held in a vertical position as per user guide. It should be connected to the belay loop with an auto- locking pear or oval 'biner. While the Lov2 could be used without a neck strap/chest harness, it would hang too low  on the belay loop and then travel up to the top and through a ~90 deg. pivot when locking up. By using a sling/neck strap/or chest harness it can be held in a vertical position just above my navel which reduces the amount of travel when locking up. The device will still pivot upwards during a fall, but is still low enough to keep it away from my face and neck.

The Lov2 and 'biner can be held vertically by a small 2mm dia. piece of cord threaded through the cover plate and clipped to a neck strap/over the should sling or chest harness. I've tried other cord loop and arrangements for holding the device and 'biner up but saw no advantages. By using this small cord loop permanently attached, I never have to worry about loosing it and it's super easy to clip and unclip.

There are a lot of options to hold the Lov2 vertically: anything from a breakable or elastic neck cord, crossed slings, a double twisted sling, Petzl Torse, or full chest harness. I prefer the Torse because it’s fairly minimal and the length is quickly and easily adjustable. It also doesn't exert pressure and a sense of constriction around my chest like some set-ups do and is never too loose because of it's adjustability.
  
Another option for holding the Lov2 and 'biner up is to use this method for improvising a minimalist harness with a sling that won't get pulled up around one's neck. https://www.instagram.com/p/B92bbBPpqPl/

I also use (though not always) a Petzl Tanga rubber "keeper" cut in half to keep the Lov2 centered on the 'biner. Also, I sometimes use a 6mm cord loop girth hitched around the 'biner and harness waistbelt keeper loop. This keeps the Lov2/'biner combo held at the top of the belay loop and keeps it from moving around when climbing, bending over, leaning down, etc.

Feed: This is usually the prime concern for people who TRS. We all want something that will feeds more or less without friction and without having to attend to it - to get as clase as possible to the "free-solo" feeling. This is where the Grigri and Eddy fail as they need constant attention until well up the route and even then I can feel the friction of the feed. The best in class are the Gremlin and Microtrax. Not too far behind those is the Lov2. I use 9.5 dynamic ropes which is the smallest diameter within the specs and allows it to flow freely. With the 9.5 ropes I can get by with with minimal amount of weight attached to the bottom of the rope. usually on clove hitch a shoe or two.

Lock-up:  It’s certainly not the quickest in locking up when weighting the rope or "falling", though it’s not bad either - usually a max of around 4"-10” because the Lov2 needs to pivot up to cause the lever /arm to pinch the rope. I would say it’s on the order of the Rescucender, Roll’nLock and Goblin in it's ability to lock. The best in class is the Microtraxion of course but that’s because of it’s small size and aggressive teeth. However thus far, I’ve never had an issue with the Lov2 locking and after getting use to it’s operation, it inspires confidence. 

Rapping: Again, not the best in class (Grigri) but it isn’t bad. It DOES take a bit of getting use to because the “sweet spot” in the handle movement is smaller than the Grigri. However, it doesn't have the annoying anti-panic feature like the Grigri+ and Eddy. I find those to be a PITA and of dubious value for someone experienced with the device. At the top of a route with 100’ of rope weight below me, it takes significant pressure on the handle to initiate the rapping process. The pressure on the handle lessens the further down the route I rap. Fortunately the handle is fairly large which helps in the initiation and control. Unfortunately the ergonomics of the handle leaves something to be desired. For me it puts my hand and wrist in an uncomfortable position. I would love to see that tweaked in a future version. There’s a couple of techniques that I've used that can be helpful and increase the safety while learning to rap with the Lov2. I’ll cover those a bit further down.

Note: as stated on the TAZ website and video instructions - when using the Lov2 for rappelling, one hand should always be on the handle and one hand below the device on the rope to provide extra friction.  NO EXCEPTIONS! (some of the photos below don't show both hands because they are posed and my one hand is holding the camera or remote control).

Down climbing: With the setup and rope I use, I'm able to down climb when I want or need to. If it has locked up (I've sat on the rope or "fallen") it may take unweighting it and moving it slightly with my hand or to first make a slight upward movement and then slowly down-climb. This may not be possible with a large diameter rope. I've not tested that.

Back-up: Having a back-up for all soloing devices is highly recommended. I have used two methods:
   
1) A fall rated maillon/quick link attached to the belay loop underneath the Lov2 can be used with back-up knots. As I climb I add back-up slip knots occasionally below the million/quick link. If a fall should result and the Lov2 fails for some reason, the knot will jam against the quick link and save my bacon. It’s simple, cheap, and doesn't cause additional friction and is a surefire way to add back-up protection. However there are two main disadvantages. First, is that I have to interrupt my upward progress and find a no-stress stance to tie the back-up knot. Secondly when descending I need to stop and untie each knot. This seems to me to to defeat one of the main purposes for having the Lov2 in the first place: seamless uninterrupted climbing flow. The next method solves that and I virtually never use this method any more. However if I'm going to be working a crux section of climb I use this method. It's super easy to hang before the crux, tie a knot and then proceed to climb and lower as many times as necessary.


2) A Roll’nLock can be connected below the Lov2 on the belay loop. The RnL flows extremely well up the rope as I climb and I really don’t notice any more friction than without it. Should the Lov2 fail, the RnL will lock. The great advantage of the RnL is that at the top of the route it’s easy to lock open so that it slides freely down the rope as I rap. These two devices together provide the smoothest and safest TRSing experience that I know of.  A Microtrax also works as a backup, however I've found that the lock-out mechanism often slips while rapping and unexpectedly locks on the rop and interrupts the decent. This is extremely annoying . I'll never use the Microtrax as a backup for any of my setups.




Rapping addendum

1) Several rope wraps and can be put around a leg to add more friction though it might twist the rope. I've only done this a couple times and don't remember if it twisted the rope or not but it's a good simple trick to remember.



2)  If I use a million/quick link and knots for back up, the rope can be left through the quick link and the lower brake hand can pull out and down to add a bit more friction.  


3)  The rope can be rethreaded back through the 'biner that is used to attache the Lov2. This has to be done on the side where the gate is. A more elegant solution would be to use a Petzl Freino ‘biner ($$) that allows the rope to be quickly inserted and doubled back on itself to add friction. If either of these methods are used long term, it could cause the rope wear the aluminum side plate of the Lov2 because it travels a slightly diagonal path. 



4)  An oval 'biner can be clipped beneath the Lov2 on the belay loop and a bight of rope pushed through a small maillon/quick link as shown. This will also add friction to the system and help add control.  


5)  The lower brake hand can squeeze the rope back against the device pinching it and causing it to bend at a more acute angle and increase the friction. The hand is used to modulate the decent in conjunction with the brake handle. This method is probably best for short descents and/or reworking a section of the route. (Brake lever not shown in action here and I would normally use my right hand for the squeezing function and left hand on the brake handle. However, for clarity I show it here with my left hand)









Replaceable parts: the plastic tension cleat that helps provide a slight amount of friction on the rope so that the Lov2 pivots and locks-up, will wear over time However it's replaceable and the TAZ website has instructions for how do that. 

When do I NOT use the Lov2?
  • On a route where the crux is low on the route (first 15’) and the route is over 50' I don't use the Lov2 because of rope stretch and fear of hitting the ground. I also wouldn't use this set up if I'm climbing friction slab of 60 deg. or less. In both of these situations you want immediate lock up and minimal rope stretch. For these situations, I use a Microtrax and a Spoc (or two of either) on parallel rope strands with both devices mounted together on a wide pear ‘biner. I tie the and weight the two stands together. This provides smooth feed and immediate lock up with the least amount of rope stretch whether using a static or dynamic rope. 



  • I also would not use the Lov2:  if I wanted the very best climbing experience (the most like free soloing); AND if I have a no-hands top-out where I can easily switch devices for rapping; AND if I'm not concerned about getting back down quickly to do another lap working on endurance. In that situation, I use a Camp Goblin (or Kong Backup) on top with a Roll’nLock or Micrtrax underneath as a back-up. It is the freest running set-up possible  IMO.




Epilogue - about me

I've been climbing over 50 years and have climbed all over the US, Canada and Ireland. For the last 25 years I've also been doing both lead rope solo and top rope soloing. During this time I've used most of the devices made specifically for soloing or that can be adapted and used for soloing. Two years ago I had a spontaneous pulmonary embolism and as a result the doctor put me on blood thinners and  told me no more lead climbing. It would be extremely dangerous in the event of a lead fall because of the possibility of internally bleeding to death. 

Since then I've mostly been a "good boy" and not done any significant lead climbing. I still avidly (couple times a week) still follow multi-pitch and do TRing. My lead rope soloing has shifted totally to TR-soloing which I do frequently during the week because of lack of partners. I've used and modified most of the devices on the market and have been in search of the best device that does everything necessary for TR-soloing: easy feed, lock-up, and lowering. For now the search for the "perfect device" is over since finding the TAZ Lov2 





Wednesday, May 6, 2020

FlipStik v.1 - Part 1

FlipStik v.1 - Part One 



A fairly easy to make hangbar that has some unique properties. This blog post probably won't answer every question that one might have, but hopefully will give enough info re the design and building process that the average woodworker can make their own custom version of it.

GOAL - create a hang bar project that:
  1. takes up minimal space - both when mounted and when stored
  2. rigidly mounted (vs hanging/suspended types of bars)
  3. aesthetically pleasing
  4. functional
  5. doorway mounted on expandable pull-up bar (see discussion in Part 2)
  6. can be left up and not interfere with the function of the door or can be easily removed and stored behind the door
  7. is 'universal' in that it isn't dependent upon doorway size
  8. mounts as high as possible for a doorway type pull-up bar
PARTS NEEDED:

The bar is created out of three pieces of wood obtained at my local Lowes.com. It could also be routed or CNC machined out of a single piece of 1.5” x 3.75” x 36” piece of poplar (or other hardwood) if you have the tools and know-how.

2 pcs- 1.5” x 36” square hardwood pcs
1 pcs - .75” x 1.5 x 36” hardwood piece
2 pcs - 1/2" x 3-14" x 4-1/4" hardwood plywood for J-hook backing/spacer plate (or 1 pcs 1/2" x 3-1/4" x 30" (see discussion in Part 2)
3 - 3” #10 wood screws
backing plate screws
     1-3/4” wood screws
     1-1/4” wood screws
closed cell foam padding: 1/8”-1/4” depending upon doorway and doorway trim profile (craftstore foam)
expandable doorway pull-up bar (ones with end-cups is recommended if you are heavier than 150 lb)

TOOLS USED: can be created with a wide variety of tools from simple hand tools to router and jig. Tools I used in the project: drill press, router table and various router bits, belt sander, hand sand stick

DESIGN: 
  • based on my LipStik design without the folding legs - BUT - it is flippable which gives twice as many edges (8 instead of 4) for the same number of pockets/steps and space (it’s a whole other discussion whether more edges are necessary or better for effective training)
  • It is designed to be mounted on expandable doorway pull-up bar. Bar can be left up and door is still functional. 
  • 3-piece design that allows working on individual pieces before being assembled
  • uses a “stepped finger stop" design that allows user to easily customize for their particular needs

MAJOR STEPS IN MAKING THE FLIPSTIK






1) cut boards to correct dimensions (I was able to buy the correct dimensioned boards at Lowes.com)











2) layout and cut the “steps” in the center board









3) layout cut lines and remove the cutaway on bottom board 






4) put radius on pocket edges of both top and bottom rails (easier to do this before assembled (see discussion below)












5) glue/clamp/screw the three boards together (no photo)



6) radius the top top rail to 1.5”  diameter for warm-up/pull-up bar.









7) round front edge of bottom rail


8) monos - if desired - drill  3/4” hole 30mm deep (or 13/16” - 7/8” depending upon how fat your fingers are and how much side support you want for your fingers). Generously chamfer the edge of mono. Notice the screws holding the three pieces together when I glued it that didn't show up in the other photos.









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See Part 2 for finishing the bar including mounting the J-hooks, what pull-up bar is best, and other finishing details.
See Part 3 for a suggested French cleat version of this bar.

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NOTES AND DISCUSSION

Edge radius discussion - some boards have a constant edge radius no matter size the edge depth (Eva Perez’s Transgression and Progression boards). While others, use a progressive edge radius (the larger the edge, the larger the edge radius) that generally yields more comfort but less accuracy when comparing edge sizes across boards. In this board I've used progressive radius using round-over router bits - which needs to be done before the board is assembled. If I were to do it over again, I'd use one constant radius for the top rail, and a smaller radius one for the bottom rails (smaller edges)

How many edges/pockets on a hangboard? Edge depths: often the general consensus is the more edges/pockets the better but it depends upon your preference in relation to how you train and your general finger fitness.  I think training can be done effectively with as little as three. However for some training protocols it is helpful to have more edges.

Pockets vs non-pockets: true pockets are unnecessary in my opinion. Just limit the number of fingers on any particular edge to achieve the same thing. Sides of pockets just help you "cheat" and take up space. I find it mildly humorous to see all the different pockets on some commercial boards. The one exception might be the mono. It can put a lot of stress on the single finger/joint on a normal edge -especially when first starting to train monos. So it can be important to provide as much support as possible through the sidewalls of a mono if you intend to train monos..

Flippable vs non-flippable: this same basic design could be used in a non-flippable board (like my LipStik) that would have only 4 edge sizes and could be permanently mounted above a doorway resting on the doorway trim with several screws into studs, OR, if using a pull-up bar,  just use one set of J-hooks.

Asymmetrical vs symmetrical edge spacing: Many hang boards in the past were symmetrical - that is - have the same edge spacing mirrored from the center line of the board. However that causes unnatural hand spacing in relation to your shoulders - from scrunched to uncomfortably wide. More functional and comfortable in my option is the asymmetrical spacing that allows constant spacing between the hands and shoulders. This bar is designed to have a constant spacing of 18”.

The following are some suggested alternative edge sequences. This is the versatility of using a method like this for creating a hang bar.

Bar shown above is a super wide ratio bar for beginning climbers to moderately advanced climbers 
[12mm top/bottom rail difference with 3mm steps]  
normal: 30 / 27 / 24 / 21
flipped: 18 / 15 / 12 /  9   

general wide ratio for beginning to hard-core
[10mm top/bottom rail difference with 2.5mm steps] 
normal: 25 / 22.5 / 20 / 17.5
flipped: 15 / 12.5 / 10 / 7.5  

beginning to moderate climbers (this is the same as Eva Perez’s Progression board)
[8mm top/bottom rail difference. 2mm steps] 
normal: 24 / 22 / 20 / 18
flipped: 16 / 14 / 12 / 10     

moderate to hard-core climbers, close ratio
[8mm top/bottom rail difference. 2mm steps]
normal: 20 / 18 / 16 / 14
flipped: 12 / 10 / 8 / 6      

FlipStik v.1 - Part 2


The FlipStik is based on a standard expandable doorway pull-up bar. They can be had from $19-$60.

Caution: this whole system depends upon your doorway framing being solid. If your doorway does not have structural integrity, then it would probably be better to not use this method of mounting but adapt it to the other major type of doorway pull-up bar where it hangs on the trip lip and then cams against the front of the doorway. I have not adapted this bar yet for that type of pull-up bar so you are on your own...

The main thing is that if you way over 140 lb, I'd recommend getting one that comes with steel cups that can be screwed into the doorway and help hold the bar in place. This makes it more secure. Mine is rated to 300 lb. if mounted with the steel cups. I didn't use them because I weigh 130 lb. and the doorway is strong enough that I could just expand the bar into place and it was enough. The disadvantage of using the steel cups on the ends to hold the bar is that there will be 3-4 small screw holes on either side that you'll have to fill if you want to permanently take it down.

Bar without mounting cups



Steps for adding the pull-up bar mounts

1)  Cut J-hook backing plates out of 1/2" ply or 1/2" poplar stock

2)  glue and screw on backing plate(s) for hooks on back of bar

3)  screw on hooks - I spaced the hooks so they would be on the outer smaller diameter part of the bar and space the hooks about 1/2" a part to give more strength to the screws in the wood. You'll need to use a shorter screw than the ones that come with it for the circled location. The board is thinner at that location because of the "cut" on the other side of that board.

4)  add doorway padding and adjust for doorway/bar fit. You want bar to lie flat again the molding and not tilt out or in.














FlipStik v.1 - Part 3

Part 3 French Cleat Alternative Version of FlipStik (photos and more details coming soon)

Uses same French cleat concept as in my ZipStik hangbar


PROs: 
  • slightly smaller and more compact
  • more aesthetic
  • doesn’t need a pull-up bar to mount
  • cheaper to make (no heavy duty J-hooks
  • slightly wider edge widths (3.25” vs 3” for the bar above)
Cons: 
  • uses permanently mounted French cleats in doorway (only two screws per cleat per side)
  • has to be made specific to the doorway size - not transferable to other doorway sizes, though 30" is a pretty standard doorway size

Edge layout scheme: this version is slightly shorter and has less edges (6 vs 8). I've not made one yet, so no photos but will post when/if I make one. I personally feel that 6 edges are more than adequate for most types of training.

General use edge scheme:
[9mm cut-out from bottom rail. 3 mm steps]
normal: 25 / 22 /19
flipped: 16 / 13 / 10  

Alternative advanced bar scheme:
[7.5mm top/bottom rail difference. 2.5 mm steps]
normal: 20 / 17.5 / 15
flipped: 12.5 / 10 / 7.5    

Alternative hard-core bar scheme
[6mm top/bottom rail difference. 2 mm steps]
normal: 16 / 14 / 12
flipped: 10 / 8 / 6   

Alternative beginner scheme
[7mm top/bottom rail difference. 3 & 2mm steps
normal: 25 / 22 / 20
flipped: 18 / 15 / 13

Alternative moderate-advanced scheme
[7.5mm to/bottom rail difference. 2.5mm steps
normal: 20 / 17.5 / 15
flipped: 12.5 /10 /  7.5

Monos optional - single fingers can be trained on any of the edges. However for those who want to train single fingers and are new to it, the additional support that the side of a hole provides may be helpful. If drilling monos, I recommend 30mm depth with a generous edge chamfer.

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Current project - cleat mounted FlipStik with a layer of walnut, cherry, and maple






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.