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2024 Olympics, look out -- Granddaughters' Balance Beam

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Project by GeBeWubya posted 214 days ago 932 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My daughter-in-law asked me if I could help her save her books from damage by building the girls a balance beam. It seems they like to lay out a line of books on the floor to walk on.

A regulation balance beam is suede leather covered beam, 10cm (3.94”) wide, 500cm (16 ft) long, and 124cm (4 ft) high. Since my granddaughters do not live in a gym with mats to protect from a 4 ft fall and room for a 16 ft beam, I sized it down to 6 ft long and much closer to the floor.

I built this one from home center lumber by laminating six 1×6 boards into a 4 1/2×5 1/2 beam. I hand planed the sides to bevel the top half down to 4” across the top surface. On the bottom surface, I mortised two 1” x 2” mortises. I then built some tenoned risers (second photo) from 2×4 scraps. The feet are 1’ long 2×6s, mortised all the way through. The beam itself is covered with a faux suede fabric for better footing. At each end is a seam 6” from the end that serves as a warning marker; when you feel the seam under your foot, you are too close to the end. (OK, you caught me. The fabric was 60 inches wide, so rather than buy 3 yards to get a single continuous strip 18 inches wide and 84 inches long (thus wasting over 2/3 of the fabric), I bought one yard, stretched the width of the cloth along the length of the beam, cut the length of the cloth to 18” and had enough to splice the ends from the remaining half yard.)

Hidden from view in the first picture is a pair of 1×2 x 3 inch blocks that fit the mortises and allow the beam to sit flat on the feet. That makes the height of the beam about 7” off the floor. When my granddaughters get confident at that height, they can replace the short tenons with the taller risers to raise the top of the beam to 12 or 16 inches.

-- (- |: \,/





4 comments so far

View farmerdude's profile

farmerdude

171 posts in 672 days


#1 posted 214 days ago

Nice job. I’m sure the girls will appreciate this as much as their mom, can’t beat having the real thing. I’ll bet it won’t be long before they raise it up to the higher blocks.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View GeBeWubya's profile

GeBeWubya

47 posts in 668 days


#2 posted 213 days ago

Thanks Jeff. The girls are 8 and 3 and the bar is pretty heavy, so for a while yet, they will probably need help to raise the bar. The 3 year old is the adventurous one so I think it will be a while before they take it up too far.

-- (- |: \,/

View InsideTheBox's profile

InsideTheBox

45 posts in 307 days


#3 posted 212 days ago

that is very cool. Walking a balance beam is one thing, but doing cartwheels and handstands on one can be very intimidating. This can really help build their confidence and skill.

-- There's no such thing as a mistake; only a quick change of plans.

View GeBeWubya's profile

GeBeWubya

47 posts in 668 days


#4 posted 211 days ago

Thanks ITB. I delivered the beam to the girls yesterday.

They seemed to enjoy it.

-- (- |: \,/

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