Build your own Gym stuff

Hi!My nameís William Mastop.†† Iím a guy in British Columbia, Canada whoís keen to build stuff.†† Itís fun, and saves a bit of coin, and thereís a certain amount of pride that goes with having built your own stuff.†† After a sabbatical stint that allowed me some weight training, I found that lifting was a great way to deal with stress, help out the body, and generally feel good.At the time of this writing, being June of 2014, Iím 47 years old.I gotta stay on top of this thing!†† I thought Iíd put up the results of my efforts so that the next guy coming along might have some ideas to draw on.Feel free to copy what Iíve come up with, or modify it.†† If you have any comments or questions, send me an email at .††† I may from time to time revise some of this page to respond to the more common questions.†† I am pleased to give credit for the ideas or information sites that helped me most along the way, and some were very helpful indeed.One in particular deserves an outstanding merit comment, and that is the contribution on the web of Champion Bodybuilder Carlos Dejesus.Carlos has his own web page, but what I found most helpful was his Youtube presentation to be found atWooden Gym of Champion Bodybuilder Carlos Dejesus.Note that Carlos does not offer construction information in his video, but I found the designs to be solid, well thought out, and very affordable to construct.

**Note this page has been modified May 19, 2015.The main change is the addition of the heavy duty lat pulldown machine page and the Back Extension page and retirement of the DIY lat pulldown machine below.†††† The new machine is still DIY but a heavier duty version of the one below.

[click here to go directly to page 2, the Heavy duty Lat Pulldown machine and back extension page]

Weight Stands

Wm at the gym June 2014.JPGOne of the first things I ran into with was trouble storing weight plates.Iím doing an outdoor gym right now.I live in the Okanagan area in British Columbia Canada.In the summer, itís very nice here, and summer is pretty long.†† So, since I donít have any room to store things in the house I live in, an outdoor gym it was.†† There are some bonuses to this, in that I can stop and smell the roses during breaks between sets.†† Really, I can:


Thereís a nice rose bush that lends a bit of a different feel to the gym, not the sort of gym that I got used to, but a nice place to do the workout in any case.††

But enough chatter about the workout environment, the thing was, I had plates that I bought from used sports stores, garage sales, charity sales, the kijiji website for online used shopping , you name it, I was keen to buy plates wherever I could.†† I ended up with a variety of plates.†† Metal plates in peculiar weights that had been handmade by someone with access to a serious metal supply, somewhat more standardized plates, but in a variety of weights that seemed to have trouble matching with one another, and plastic coated York and Sears weights.†† I had them stacked up on top of each other at first.That didnít work out well, the water when it did rain seemed to pool in them somehow, and it was a pain grabbing them.So I tried leaning them against a nearby fence.†††† I have this fabulously good looking workout partner, her name is Lucy.†† Sheís a very hot girl and really into the cardio.Thereís a picture here for those that are curious.†† I donít want everyone spending their time staring when weíre working out, so I had to put the fence up.†† (Okay, if there was no fence sheíd run into traffic, and sheís mostly covered in fur, but sheís still my workout partner!)I had the weights lined up there, leaning against one another, and found that ants thought they were a good shelter too.Thereís just way to much fun in picking up a plate and finding your hand in the middle of an ants nest, complete with eggs.Yep, more fun than I care to have.††† It was time to build something that holds weights.†† I searched the internet high and low.The internet is a fabulous thing that way, put in some search terms in Google like ďDIY build your own weight standĒ and pretty soon youíve got some great ideas.†† Iím not able to build with metal, having no welding equipment, but I can build with wood.†† I found instructions at Jessís site (Iíve never met Jess, but I sure thank her for the great job she did in putting up instructions on this.†† Her site is at .†† Itís entitled ďa Girl walks into a bar (bell)Ē.†† She sets out a materials list, and great instructions that I really canít add to.Howís that for a great name for a web page??My version of her project appears now as:


I did however notice a couple of things.Where she refers to wood screws, I found that number 10, 2 Ĺ inch wood screws work very well.Do pre-drill all your holes, itís important.Instead of using the 36 inch doweling and the 8 inch doweling that Jess recommends, I found a 48 inch doweling of hardwood at my local Home Depot store.This stuff is very strong.As well, I was building for standard size plates, not Olympic sized plates.†† As such, instead of using 1 ľ inch doweling, I used 1 inch doweling.I found that instead of 17 Ĺ inches long, I could have each section of doweling at 20 inches with no trouble.†† A single 48 inch long section of doweling could become two 20 inch sections and one 8 inch section.††† Having thought about the matter further, I thought I could put in boards front and rear of the design.Instead of it appearing as above, I could get a few more small plates in with:



To do so, I added to Jessís design and instructions with two 2 x 4ís each being **inches long** and two sections of 1 inch doweling, each being 20 inches long.Remember, to accommodate the design that Jess set out, itís import to only use small weights on these, like 1 Ĺ pounders or the big weights wonít be able to slide on from the sides.†††† Be careful in arranging your new doweling holes in the boards you are adding to the existing design.I put them in at 8 inches from the bottom of the 2/4 that I was inserting in the gap and at 21 inches from the bottom of the same board.You donít want to be trying to put a doweling through where one already exists!

Hereís the steps, and the finished product, in making the design modification:



Having built a weight tree, well, thereís still too many weights!I built a second weight tree.Yep, two of them, and then I was set.

The DIY Lat Pulldown/tricep pressdown/seated row Machine

Note Ė Effective May 2015 I replaced the machine referenced below with a heavier duty version.†† I found that after 150 pounds or more the design below started to suffer.†† Click to check out the heavier duty version

Then, well, now itís time to do some pull downs for the lats, and standing presses for the triceps.Iíd purchased a home gym on Kijiji for my workouts, but found pretty shortly that I exceeded most of the capacities of the machine, or found that it was not able to do the fine adjustments that I wanted.Seriously, Iím doing some tricep pushdowns, perhaps 70 pounds, and the next selectable weight on this machine means Iíd be doing 83 pounds per rep???Thatís crazy, a 13 pound difference?†† Sure, you can play with the number of reps endlessly, but Iím not that keen to go from 12 or 15 reps at one weight to 5 at the next.†† The home gym that I had just didnít have the flexibility in choosing those find additions to weight.†† So, time to build a lat pull down, and tricep pressdown machine!I again hit the internet, Google being the best search tool ever, and came across some different concepts.†† One of the most helpful in terms of overall concept was in a Kindle Book that I purchased, DSCF5620.JPGentitled How to Build a Lat Pulldown Machine by Michael J. Schneider.†† The book is about $1.99, so pretty affordable.†† I thought that each concept I came across had some aspects to their design that I didnít care for, so I cobbled together the ideas that Iíd come across, made some changes, and came up with what appears in the pictures.Iíve moved the horizontal support that is suggested by Mr. Schneider, and also added two lateral supports.


You will note that the base 2 x 4 and top 2 x 4 are equal length, being 48 inches each.2 x 4ís come in standard 8 foot lengths, though you can get longer ones at significantly greater cost.†† The lateral upright supports are 2 x 2ís, but could just as easily be 2 x 4ís if you have some of those laying around.†† Those supports, to stop any tipping from side to side, are each 5 feet long.††† There is no tipping at all with these supports, and I believe they are a very important part of the overall design.†† The cable and all other hardware were purchased at Home Depot.†† The cable ends are also for sale there.†† Itís a bit of effort to put the ends on, and requires the use of some pliers, but they sure work well.The cable is purchased having a plastic covering on it, and the portion that is looped back on itself to create the ends must have the plastic removed.This is best done using a box cutter or razor knife, to first go around the cable at the point from the end of the cable that you want to cut to, and then making an incision down the length of the cable of the plastic to be removed.††††††

The total height of this pulldown machine is 76 inches.It can certainly be taller, even 8 feet would work well, since thatís a standard lumber length.However, I have some height restrictions in the location I hope eventually to place this machine so instead I made it a bit shorter.Please note however, that if you choose to build it much shorter than 76 inches some exercises will become impractical.†† I use a small stool as the seat for this machine, as I can readily remove it, which gets it out of the way for tricep pressdowns and similar exercises.As well, it is helpful not to have a permanently mounted seat, as I can then use this machine for rows as well, by adding another piece of cable.††† I explain more about the extra piece of cable on the additional pictures page referenced below.

In terms of the screws to be used, some #10 by 2 Ĺ inch wood screws work very well.It is not necessary to use 3 or 3 Ĺ inch screws.†††† Be sure however to pre-drill all the holes.††† Hereís the rest of the photoís that will provide some help in the construction:


Note that in the picture above, the eye bolt that holds the fixed pulleye above the user is 9 Ĺ inches from the end of the 2 x 4.†† Do not place this eye bolt at the end of the 2 x 4 unless youíre ready and able to fasten the entire machine to the ground.If you donít, you will be pull the whole machine over.

The pulleys are fixed pulleys, about 8$ each at Home Depot if I recall correctly.They will need a bit of lubrication Ė I used heavy duty lithium grease, or they squeak like crazy!They just hand on the eye bolts.The weight of the cables and weights keeps them on there.†† Please note, on the 2 x 2ís that are vertical supports at the rear of the machine, you will see that on one size I have used 2 screws each, and on the other one screw each.††† Please use two screws each, and used the same #10 by 2 Ĺ inch screws that have been used throughout.††

DSCF5618.JPGDSCF5619.JPGFor more pictures, Additional_pics_of_lat_machine.htm

**STOP**.†† A few weeks after having built the machine, I experienced some problems with it and a rather dramatic failure.Hence, I made some design modifications.For more discussion of this, go to the same Additional_pics_of_lat_machine.htm.†† And after making those modifications, the machine did well up until 150 pounds or more, and then started to struggle, which led to the Heavier duty version of the DIY Lat Pulldown Machine.


By now I had a nice collection of dumbbells going.†† Itís not possible to have too many dumbbells.†† I get a lot of use with them, and find that they are more flexible than full length bars for many exercises.I usually exercise alone, and it can be a problem doing an exercise to failure with a bar.With dumbbells, no problem, you can drop them!†† I had to get these dumbbells looking a little better kept or the mate would be unhappy, and so I again hit the internet.I came across a posting by a fellow who calls himself Nine Tailed Fox, at .†† I really liked his design, but he didnít mention a lot of specifics to it, so I set about building my own.†† This rack has 3 shelves.Each shelf is 48 inches long, and the two upright supports are each 48 inches long.This makes good use of the 8 foot sections of 2 x 10 that they are comprised of.†† 2 x 10 is a bit expensive, being about $10.00 each, compared to 2 x 4ís which retail here at about $3.00 each.†† With some variations it would be possible to build this out of2 x 4ís instead of 2 x 10ís but for looks, the 2 x 10ís really help.†† The wood that prevents the weights from sliding off the shelf is 2 x 2ís, again each one being 48 inches long.†† The shelf supports are cut at a 30 degree angle with the chop saw, and the shelves are put in at the same angle.Everything is fastened with #10 by 2 Ĺ inch wood screws, with all holes being pre-drilled.†† The shelf supports are made of 2 x 4.†† Note that the bottom shelf is 6 inches off of the ground, and the top edge of each shelf is 16 inches above the one below it.That large room is important, as it makes it very easy to pull dumbbells off of the bottom and middle shelves.†† Although it would be possible to add additional shelves, or use a less steep angle on the shelves to allow a variety of uses, these changes will really impact the ease with which dumbbells can be placed and removed.†† This rack works really well.†† Itís not a work around, itís a good dumbbell rack.Please note the two by 4ís attached at the base.These are important to prevent the entire unit from falling forward or backward.†† These could take a lot of strain someone were to stumble into the shelves, and so I fastened them with 5 screws each in an alternating pattern.

DSCF5630.JPGHereís the pictures for the Dumbell Rack:

Here we are cutting the supports that will actually hold up the shelves.There are a total of 6 of them, with the cut being a 30 degree angle as shown on the base of the saw.Each end is cut at that angle, to give a nicer appearance.††








Yep, thatís set at 30 degrees.The angle is not absolutely critical, you could do it by eye if you have only a skilsaw.





Below we have the boards that will be used for the main construction.These are the uprights (2) and the shelves (3) each of which is a 2 x 10 cut to 48 inches long.We lay the two uprights down on a work table, and begin attaching the 2 x 4 supports that have already been cut to 30 degree angles.Note that these 2 x 4ís are roughly 7 inches long.They do not go right to the front or right to the back edge of each upright.These help for a cleaner appearance when youíve got the shelves on them.




Each shelf brace is attached with three #10 by 2 Ĺ inch wood screws in an alternating pattern.



Note that the distance from the top edge of each shelf brace is 16 inches.This is important.If you skimp on this distance, you may be able to get an extra shelf in, BUT the dumbbell rack will not work nearly as well.



Each shelf is affixed to the supporting 2 x 4 brace with two #10 by 2 Ĺ inch screws, screwed in from the top of the shelf.



The 2 x 2ís are cut to 48 inches long, and are affixed to the 2 x 10 shelves with five #10 by 2 Ĺ inch screws each.Note that they do not lie along the exact back edge of the 2 x 10 shelf.Instead, they are roughly 1 to 1.5 inches down from the back edge of the shelf.The dumbbell needs to have shelf to sit on.

After getting it all assembled, I thought I should protect it somehow.Thatís a lot of wood exposed to the elements.Iím not the best painter, so you may notice some uneven coats of the stain.Thatís my failure, not that of the stain.†† I sure looks a lot more finished once it was all dry.




Thompsons Waterseal, they advertise well.Cost about $28.00 at Home Depot, but after staining this and the lat pulldown machine, and the two weight stands, I still had about half a can left.They were right about its water repellent qualities.After a rainfall here, all the water just puddled, or ran right off, no absorption.



Click here to go to William Mastopís main page.

Click here to go to page 2 of the DIY Gym stuff page, with instructions for the heavy duty lat pulldown machine and the back extension machine.