Homemade wooden climbing holds
You can easily spend $100 on 5 climbing holds, so Ren Kauffunger asked his dad to show him how to make wooden climbing holds.
I’ve been rock climbing indoors for a couple years now, and I wanted to make a climbing wall at home. You can easily spend $100 on five climbing holds, so I asked my dad to show me how to make wooden climbing holds. He had never made them, but he’s a good woodworker. We figured it out together.
Wooden climbing holds take a long time to make, but if done right they can be just as good as store-bought holds. Another plus side is you can climb on them for longer than store-bought holds because they don’t feel as rough on your skin, so your fingers don’t get ripped up.
Wooden holds can be either solid wood or stacked plywood. I’ve made both. We started by drawing out a plan, sketching out the stages of the process and listing the order of operations. Once you have a plan, get your rough shape either by cutting the shape out of solid wood or gluing plywood together.
Shape it up
After getting some good sized pieces of strong plywood, I cut them to shape on the bandsaw (with some help from my dad) and stacked them so it was almost like a topographical map. Then we glued and clamped them together so they would stick tightly and waited for them to dry. Using a right angle grinder with a 60-grit flap disk, we ground them to shape. I also did this with a chunk of solid cherry from the wood pile.
After framing the wall out, my dad and I drilled holes in 3/4-in. plywood. I used a stop block with a hand drill to keep the drill at 90° and prevent blowing through the table below.
Then we installed the T-nuts, and put it all together.
Climb on! Woodworking and climbing are both fantastic pastimes. You should try both!
-Ren Kauffunger, big brother to Stella, is a 6th-grade rock climbing woodworker who lives in Maine.
A bit about Ren’s dad
Kevin Kauffunger, training director at Freud America, is a graduate of The Krenov School and a Fine Woodworking author. Check out some of his articles.
Student tackles hand-fluting with a shopmade plane and two-way drawers with spring catches