How to Make an Indoor Climbing Wall

How to Make an Indoor Climbing Wall

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I built my kids an indoor climbing wall, it was super fun to make!
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In our old house I built a huge climbing wall in our backyard. With the renovation of the boys’ bedroom almost completed, I thought it was a perfect time to rebuild that fun rock wall in the their room. 

First, here is a safety disclaimer…I built this wall for my kids in a manner that I am completely confident in. I don’t know your room layout and I don’t know your kids abilities. If you want to build a wall yourself, awesome! But you are assuming all responsibility and risk in doing so (that said, it is pretty awesome and you should go make one).

I began this project by measuring out the space in the room and making a digital copy of it (Its been very helpful for me lately), being sure to accurately measure the ceiling pitch. I then mapped out the placement of some drop-in, 2×4 walls that would support the 3/4 inch plywood faces. I cut and nailed the wall pieces together and screwed them to the existing room studs with some massive lag screws. I translated the ceiling pitch to the angled wall section and used a bird’s mouth cut at the end of the 2×4 so that those joists would sit on the header of the wall below it.

Once the walls were framed in place, I broke down the sheets of 3/4 inch plywood to cover each section. I made sure to mark out the location of the new wall studs on the plywood so that I could secure them together, but it also helped me identify where to NOT place the holes for the climbing holds. On the plywood, I marked out a geometric grid that would become the locations for a bunch of T-nuts. These pronged nuts will receive the bolts that attach the climbing holds to the wall. The grid allows you to change up the arrangement later if you wanted. After drilling the grid holes and hammering in the T-nuts, we mounted each plywood face to the framed-in walls.

Accurately measuring the space was crucial when putting up the faces, each piece fit together in an angular puzzle that turned out amazing. All that was left to do was to place the climbing holds and bolt them to the T-nuts. This was pretty erratic, but it allowed for different skill levels in different areas. I even got to use the hand hold that I made using a silicone mold. After I throughly tested out the wall, I let my kids go nuts. They really love this new awesome addition to their room and I’m really happy they have an area to be wild and crazy kids. If you liked this project, check out more of my work using the links above!

hey I'm Bobby I like to make stuff today we're gonna make a climbing wall as we continue to build out the room for my boys we're gonna put in a climbing wall and we're gonna put it right in this corner that way we can have two separate walls and kind of an overhang so the first step in doing this is figuring out all the measurements of the actual space so that we can plan how the framing is going to fit in there it's really important here that you get every single dimension and in this particular case one of the most important things is the pitch of the roof so I need to make sure that I get that angle correct and after I get all these things recorded I'm going to go into fusion 360 and build a model of this specific space now of course you don't have to 3d model it you could do that on paper just the same but I like to be able to build it in three dimensions so I can easily modify things and see exactly how the framing is gonna need to be it also helps me figure out how much material I need to get I did a super quick sketch of the corner and recorded all of the measurements on that drawing you can figure out the angle of this by doing some really simple geometry but you can also use a digital protractor this one's really cool you just set it to zero and then fit it into the angle that you want and then it tells you the angle based on my 3d model I figured out how many two by fours and how many sheets of plywood I was gonna need once I got the materials I started cutting everything down on the chop saw I started by cutting down the base plate and the tallest straight pieces before working on the angles I use the framing nailer to nail these pieces together because I have one but if you don't you can just do it with a hammer and nails or with a screw gun I lay these pieces out in place before nailing them together and then measure the diagonal to the actual pieces sometimes the three-dimensional model is not exact when you get to real world building and when putting these pieces together I used a speed square to make sure that all the corners are square for the diagonal piece I use the angle that I'd found earlier to cut one side and then fit it into place and Mark the birds mouth for the other side this was cut by angling a circular saw and lowering the blade to only cut to the right depth on each one of the passes this fit right into place and I used some nails to hold it onto the other parts of the frame after the first tallest section I spaced all the rest of the studs by 16 inches on center that's a standard each one of these had to have that same angle cut at the top to fit against the top piece unfortunately one of these studs was pretty bowed so the whole wall rocked a bit I used a belt sander to smooth out the back of it and I had to do several passes to get it to lay flat up in the room I marked all of the studs on all three of the walls that I was going to be attaching this to just so I knew where everything was for anchoring I also measured out the area where I needed to remove the trim on the floor so that the frame could set all the way against the wall it was a nice tight fit but to really tie it into the existing framing of the wall I used some really long screws with some flat heads to drive it into the other studs that were already behind the drywall some of these screws were over 5 inches long so they were plenty long enough to go through a two-by-four drywall and into another 2×4 and after that one was firmly in place it was time to move on to the next lower wall this one was really straightforward because it didn't have any angles at all it was just a basic framed wall 16 on center for all the studs I nailed this went together and put it into the wall the exact same way that I did the other one with this one in place you can see right there in the corner there are two two by fours that are facing each other this is on purpose because you need a place for both of those plywood panels to connect to I got this one bolted into the wall behind it and the wall next to it but needed to add one more piece so I had a little extra framing on the side I put another 2×4 spanning this frame all the way up to the ceiling this will eventually let me put some holds up on that little triangle the last section of wall to make was for the angled ceiling so that angle I found earlier was super important I used it to make some bird mouth cuts on the end of two by fours so that this section of wall would sit on the one below it I did a test fit with my first piece to make sure that the angles and the openings were right and had to make a couple of small adjustments but after I had it fit I used that one as a template to make the rest [Applause] you may notice that the framing here is not 16 on center and that's because the joists and the ceiling are actually 24 inches apart so I made sure that these match the joists so that we could tie them together and make it really secure after I had these all tied in I found where the studs were on the actual flat part of the ceiling so I knew where to drive in screws up through that top 2×4 now there's no stud behind this for me to tie into but I'm putting this here to support the plywood that's going to be on the front of this it's a pretty long gap it's 24 inches and that's a little bit much for you to be pulling on with the hold so having an extra little piece of support here is going to support the plywood across the span I knock those pieces in and nail them into place and I did have to use some shims to make sure that everything was really tight I didn't have a great plan for the air-conditioning duct in the wall so my first thought was to extend it out to the face of the wall with a little 2×4 frame I also made a little box to put around the plug that was in the wall that we could actually use as a handhold that way we could still access the plug when we needed it and with that all the framing was done then it was time to wrap the whole thing and a whole lot of plywood the next step here on these panels is to make a bunch of holes so that the hand Holtz can be attached each one of those hand holds gets a bolt that goes through it and it goes into a T nut so we have to drill holes for these to go into and to drill those holes to make sure that they don't intersect with the frame behind it we're gonna draw a grid that's eight inches by eight inches from side to side I started drawing these out and it dawned on me that if I start at the bottom of the panel and do every eight inches the top row is actually going to hit the top edge of the panel because it's divisible by 8 so instead we're gonna come off six inches from the bottom and then do every 8 inches that'll give us an extra row of holds on this panel I picked which side of the board I wanted facing out and drilled the holes from that side with a backer board behind it to cut down and blow up then we flipped it over and hammered in a Tina into each one of these holes the t-nuts create a threaded insert in each one of these holes so that you can drive a bolt through a climbing hold into that thread originally we were just going to cover up the plug that's on this wall because we won't really need it in this particular situation but rather than covering it up I decided to frame in a little box and just turn it into a handhold and I was gonna cut it out to the geometric shape of the two by fours behind and instead just did a curvy and it looks a little bit more organic so we'll send it down it'll be good to go I ripped out another sheet of plywood to fit at the bottom of that wall and then put on the same grid drilled the same holes and drove in the same t-nuts but before I put this one on I not got the framing that I put around the AC vent I changed my mind and decided to put the great back on and then just cut out a hole to let the air blow through the wall I did these two cutouts in the wall kind of out of necessity but there are a lot of different climbing walls that use this type of thing for a lot of the holds the piece of plywood for the angle part of the ceiling was done the exact same way except it had an angle cut on one edge this is so that it'll butt up against the straight wall and not have a big gap we made the rest of the plywood panels in the same way and just screwed em on using lots of screws to make sure that everything was really secured to the framing the off gap from the sidewall actually worked as a cover for the outside edge I was able to cover up all the two by fours with some strips of plywood just to dress everything up obviously these pieces can have t nuts but there are some climbing holds that you can attach to a surface with regular screws the construction for this thing is all finished now there are a few details before we can start putting the holds on the wall one I need to sand off all the edges and sand these cutouts so they're not hard on your hands when you're holding on to them then we're gonna put on one coat of finish temporarily we're gonna put on a clear coat because I'm not really sure if we're gonna paint it or what we're gonna do long-term so for now we're gonna put a couple of coats of poly acrylic that'll protect it until we decide what to do with it finish wise long term this thing is a blast we've been spending a lot of time on it and our kids are already becoming better climbers there's a certain amount of risk with climbing and with building things that you climb on so you have to decide the amount of risk that you're comfortable with for you and your family before you build something like this but if you do build one of these and you also want to learn how to make your own holds I've got a video on how I made this one right here you can check that video out right over there as well as a whole bunch of other project videos of all different types don't forget to subscribe as well and to the second channel that's it for this one guys thanks for watching I'll see you next time that should be good enough to keep it in shape while we get Jordan urban behind this one to tie into but the big reason

41 thoughts on “How to Make an Indoor Climbing Wall

  1. Lots of people ask why I didn't just put the plywood directly on the wall.
    There needs to be negative space behind the plywood for the bolts to poke through. In my space, I could have removed the drywall and put the plywood on the studs but it's an attic space so that would let tons of air through .

  2. Made it and my son loves it! I'm making mostly wooden holds but I did try the resin ones that worked out pretty good too!

  3. You earned my sub on the first video I saw. This was awesome. Very well produced.. Informative without dragging. Very well done.

    One question I ha did why did you decide to remove the framing box for the duct vent?

  4. nice video, but 10:15 'obviously, …' – why? you can sandwich the t-nut between the plywood and the 2×4 (recess either to get it flush) and drill the 2×4 to accommodate the bolt…

  5. I'm so jealous of your kids. I would have loved something like this. My mum did actually make a climbing wall for my school, (she attracted an audience of people wanting to see a women carpenter), but I never thought of a small one in a bedroom.

  6. I just wonder why all the hassle to build the frame of the climbing wall which has exactly the same shape as the wall behind it. Why can't you just remove the drywall and replace it with the plywood? The plywood would have all the same holes drilled in it, before installation. Then you attach the climbing holds and there you are.

  7. Hey man soooo I went crazy awhile back and built a huge wall in my dads barn… One guy said paint with sand, that would work but what I did was use epoxy and sand to coat some of the wall. I also made some homemade home with the same mixture. Just an idea on how to coat it. If you haven't already. This is really awesome though, good job!

  8. Bob that is so cool! Now I want to make one for me and my girls. Thanks for your great videos! You make it look so easy!

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