2024 Olympics, look out -- Granddaughters' Balance Beam

  • Advertise with us
Project by GeBeWubya posted 01-26-2014 07:44 PM 2368 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


674 posts in 2890 days

#1 posted 01-26-2014 11:24 PM

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


56 posts in 2886 days

#2 posted 01-27-2014 06:04 PM

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


125 posts in 2525 days

#3 posted 01-28-2014 05:25 PM

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


56 posts in 2886 days

#4 posted 01-29-2014 05:18 PM

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

They seemed to enjoy it.

-- (- |: \,/

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics