Budget Stall Bars

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I’ve been following the Gymnastic Bodies for a few months, and decided I needed some stall bars to help me with the thoracic bridge stretch video, where it’s used to provide support and handholds at a variety of heights. There are many other uses for stall bars, but I’m not there yet. They’re quite expensive to buy, but look pretty simple to build. How hard can it be?


I spent quite some time worrying about how thick the dowels need to be, and what kind of wood. In the end I went with 1 1/4” oak dowels, and they’re working out fine. I don’t use the wall bars for anything really load bearing, but I’ve climbed up it as if it were a ladder and feel comfortable.

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The build was pretty straightforward. The most complicated part was rigging up this jig to drill holes at a fixed offset from the edge, since I don’t have a drill press. I’m using a slot in my table saw to move a simple sled back and forth, and I’ve got my beefy drill clamped to it, using some extra wood as spacers so it points straight. This method worked well enough, but a real drill press would be better.

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I cut the dowels to length so that the vertical supports would line up with my ceiling joists, where I would attach them with metal bolts for extra safety. Then I discovered that 1 1/4” dowels exactly don’t fit in a hole drilled with a 1 1/4” forstner bit. I spent a lot of time sanding down the ends of the dowels. Somebody online used a drum sander attachment for his drill to make the holes bigger. In hindsight that’s probably a better option.

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After gluing it all together, I added some horizontal braces that sit in notches I cut out of the vertical supports. The top two braces match up with where my wall has horizontal studs, so I’d have something extra solid to screw them into. I gave the supports a polyurethane finish, but left the dowels bare to prevent blisters.

Overall I’m quite happy with the bars. They’re definitely helping me improve my almost non-existent flexibility, and are also handy to hook bands into. I’m thinking of moving them to a different room. If I do that I’ll probably move the horizontal braces to match whereever the studs are in that room. It’ll have a finished ceiling so I’ll cut off the top, and am not worried about losing the steel bolts that attach it to the studs. They’re in there pretty loose and not bearing any load right now. (If the screws fail, then they will prevent the whole thing from falling over.)

About the author

Living the good life in Seattle, occasionally sharing something interesting with the Internet.