Gymnasts ranging from young ages to Olympic-level competitors all use the balance beam. It is both a simple piece of gymnastics equipment and one presenting incredible degrees of challenge for individuals who attempt to perform complex routines on the beam. Because it is so accessible, it is one of the first pieces of equipment young gymnasts use as they graduate from tumbling to more advanced levels of gymnastics. Some parents may also choose to install a balance beam in their home for their children to use. There is more than one way to make this equipment at home, but a beam featuring some padding isn't too difficult to achieve.
Glue six 8-foot pieces of 1-by-6 inch pine together so that their sides of largest surface area are fully contacting one another. This will create a block of wood that is eight feet long with a side of about 4.5 inches. This side will serve as the top side, where the gymnast will place her feet for practice. Be sure to add wood glue liberally between the boards and use clamps or weights placed on the wood to make sure that the glue fastens itself to the wood.
Affix galvanized angle holders on the underside of each end of the balance beam, roughly 12 inches from the end. These galvanized angles are metal reinforcements that are screwed into the balance beam and let you securely fasten and anchor the legs of the beam into the wood without cutting angles from the wood. Use screws and the screwdriver to fasten these holders through the wood block.
Place each of the four 12-inch pieces of 2-inch by 4-inch wood in the openings of the galvanized angles fastened onto the beam. Use the available screw holes on the galvanized angles to anchor the legs of the balance beam onto the beam itself.
Attach a 24-inch long 2 by 4 onto the bottom of each of the leg stands to provide further stability and an even surface. Use screws to anchor the braces onto the legs.
Cut strips of foam padding or other synthetic padding to fit the top and sides of the balance beam. StickItBalanceBeam.com recommends a material called synthetic suede, which is similar to the padding featured on professional balance beams. Attach with wood glue to the top and sides of the balance beam and allow to dry before using.
Things You Will Need
- Six 8-foot, 1- by 6-inch pine boards
- Wood glue
- Two galvanized angles
- Foam padding, such as synthetic suede
- Four 12-inch pieces of 2-inch by 4-inch wood
Wipe down all wood with a damp cloth prior to gluing. This will give you the strongest hold.
Be sure to use a waterproof glue if the beam will be kept outside or exposed to water.
Use homemade balance beams at your own discretion. These are not professionally made pieces of equipment and are only as strong as your craftsmanship.