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My son asked me to build him a hangboard. He is interested in the sport of climbing, and a hangboard is supposed to help you develop and improve your finger strength. I'm not a climber, so that's all I know about them.

He checked out a bunch of DIY hangboards from a google search, pulled together a few different ideas, and I took that and worked up a design in sketchup, shown here.

We guesstimated that a good depth for the finger holes would be about 1-1/2 inches (38mm) so I wanted to start with a chunk of wood that thick.

I didn't have a board of the right length and thickness, but I did have this leftover chunk of Acacia countertop from a previous project.

(You could try just using a piece of 2x8 from the building supply store, but those are actually only 1-3/8" thick, which is a bit less than I want. But yes, that would be MUCH simpler than what I'm doing here. However, I've got a shop full of tools, so why shouldn't I have fun in the shop taking the difficult option!?)

I sliced it up into strips that were 1-5/8" wide, and then flipped them on their side. I also cut up some of the strips into shorter chunks. I could then fit them together in a sort of finger-jointed pattern like this...

... and glue them together. By making the strip 1-5/8" wide, this new laminated board is 1-5/8" thick, and I could run it through the planer a few times to clean it up and flatten it after gluing the pieces together.

And it wasn't until I was reviewing my video footage that I realized that the camera was out of focus for this section. I'm so sorry!

After cutting the board down to 24" x 7" x 1-1/2" (610 x 178 x 38mm) I then went back to my sketchup plan (shown above) and transferred over all the curves and the hole locations. There are three sizes of finger holes: 2", 3", and 4" in length (50, 75, 100 mm), and 1-1/4" (32mm) in width. I drew lines on the workpieces to mark the centre of each row of holes, and then I marked on where each finger hole started and stopped.

Then over on the drill press I set the fence so that I could just slide the workpiece along as I drilled out each row of holes. I used a 1-1/4" (32mm) Forstner bit and drilled the start and ending hole of each finger grip, and then drilled a series of overlapping holes to excavate the remainder of the material.

With the holes drilled I next sanded out the interior. Acacia wood is actually fairly soft, so hand sanding works fairly well. I also had a set of these drill-mount sanding cylinders that I used. You could also use the spindle sander if you have a small enough sanding spindle.

Using a small 1/8" roundover bit in the palm rounter to ease over the front edges of the finger holes. (I did not route the BACK edges, which is explained later.)

Along the center/top of the hangboard there were a series of sloped areas -- see the sketchup drawing above for a look. I used my crosscut sled on the tablesaw to make this cut. I went through my scrap bin an pulled out some wood that I could prop/wedge my workpiece against, so that it would be held at the right angle, and then have the blade at the right height, so that it would cut away stock at the desired angle.

It was a bit of a risk, but it turned out great. I just made a series of repeated cuts with the board at the angle and I then had my desired slope. I then reset the sled with different pieces of wood to achieve the other desired slope.

Next was to cut off the curved parts along the top.

Then I marked on the BACK where I wanted to excavate handholds BEHIND the curved section. One issue here that you can see in the photo is that there is a finger hole that is fairly close to the curve. We had wanted a bigger hand grip, but the finger hole was kind of in the way, and I did not want to cut into the back of the finger hole.

Again on the drill press I used a forstner bit to excavate the grip. This is from the back of the piece, and I have the drill press set to only drill down about 5/8-3/4" (19mm) deep. And as the bit is only about half-engaged in the wood, I am careful to SECURELY clamp the piece to the drill press table so it cannot shift. This worked quite well.

I then used a chisel to square up the side of the grip excavation.

I then added a back to the board.

The reason I drilled all the way through for the finger holes was that it was just easier. Also easier to sand out the holes. If you had a big CNC you coul just have it make this all in one step, though you would need a thicker piece of wood to start with. I think it would also be harder to sand if there was a bottom to all the finger holes.

I found a piece of scrap plywood in the shop -- mine was 5/8" thick (16mm), but 3/4" (19mm) would work also I think -- and glued and nailed it to the back of the hangboard.

I think this will add a lot of strength to the hangboard, and it also gives you a much easier way to mount the board -- just drill through the back of a few of the finger holes, through the back, and then you can use screws to hang it.

There was of course a lot of sanding that I did not really show, and then here is what it looks like after a few coats of spray lacquer.

I think it works something like this, but again, I'm not a climber. It's now going to my son and he'll find a place to hang it in the house.

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)


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See Also:

Endless Calendar


Custom Laminated Canoe Paddle

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