Project: Climbing Wall: Construction Phase 1

Decided that it was best to just get started on building something as soon as possible with this project. If I was to keep planning some of the details, I would not get anything done. So, I went ahead and figured out the minimum amount of wood I would need to buy for the first of the 15 degree walls and picked it up at the local wood store. Unfortunately, in my rush to get this built, I didn't really document much. Phase 2 will be another 15 degree wall, so I will document the process there in a clearer manner. For now I have a single panel wall up and usable, and I'm happy with that start.

Step 1: Roof Strapping

Because I did not want to cut into the walls and connect directly to the existing roof trusses, I added 2x4 strapping to the ceiling and drove screws into the roof beams to hold them up. The spacing is such that the vertical 2x6 pieces will fit right next to them when installed.

Step 2: Support Cross Beam
Originally planned to be a single 4x4, I could not find a plain pine one, so I just attached a pair of 2x4 boards together. This piece goes across the ceiling strapping and is what the main support lean against so they don't shift. It is parallel to the rafters, but not lined up under one. The distance from the wall was figured out from the cad software.

Step 3: Cutting the Vertical Wall Supports

At the base of my wall is a small ledge of cinder blocks that the whole garage sits on top of. This lip was used as the bottom support for my climbing wall. There already is a 2x4 board attached solidly to cap this ledge, and so I will be able to directly attache the wall to that piece. A notch needs to cut from both the top and bottom of the 2x6 boards on a 15 degree angle. I went online and found a set of values for rise over run and the angle it represents. Using that I was able to measure from the bottom corner of the 2x6 and define the proper angle. Using some straight edges I moved it so that the peak of the cut was relatively centered and cut it out. I found the point was a bit too long and chopped off about 1 inch to make it fit better.
I measured the distance from point to point: from the peak of the bottom lip to the corner of the support beam. Using that on the 2x6 I found my length and defined that at the peak of my top notch. I used the scrap piece from the bottom, which was already at 15 degrees angle, as a template and marked out my upper cut. It ended being a bit high, but the distance between the cuts was perfect. Another trim from the end and I could slot the 2x6 into place. I did not measure the angle, but it looks right and fits well.
Before permanently attaching the first one, I used it as a template on the next two to ensure they fit, some quick cuts later and I had 3 x 2x6 beams that all fit perfectly into place.

Step 4: Attach Support

Using screws, I attached each board at the top and bottom as best I could. This was not a challenge, but I probably over did it. I'm bad for making sure things don't move that I don't want to move.

Step 5: Install Plywood

Using a square I marked the height of the ledge off the ground onto the 2x6 boards. I wanted the 3/4" plywood to be mounted starting at the height. With the help of some scrap to hold it up, and my ladder to keep if from falling down due to the angle of over hand, I was able to get a couple of screws in place. I removed the supports and locked it on with a bunch more screws.

Step 6: Mount Hardware

I was missing my 1/2" hole bit from my set, so I faked a few with a slightly smaller drill bit. I was able to install the rear nuts with the help of a hammer in these no problem and mounted some initial holds. The next day I picked up the right bit and had a much easier time setting up more mounting points on the wall. I didn't use them all in order to allow me the option of adding some where I find a need.

Once the nuts were mounted I was able to setup the holds. This is a tonne of work, but easy to do. You can plan it, or just go ad hoc and update things where you find problems. I went somewhere in the middle. The hold kit I got had a welded pair of allen keys for the two types of bolts it used, and this made it simple to mount the hardware wherever I wanted. A couple of hours work later and I was happy with those. Other hold just screw on, and they can be mounted in odd spots like the sides and on corners. I even mounted one on my support beam at the ceiling for a final hold when I wanted to go further up. Just to make my life simple I use a pair of screws to create a mount on the back to hold the allen keys for later use.

Step 7: Test

Grab your climbing shoes and start testing. Move and change holds wherever you feel it is needed and find some routes. You can use something like coloured gaffer tape to mark routes, but with this smaller wall I have not done that yet. Probably once this is larger I will mark routes.

Have fun with it, this is exercise, but it's also fun. Get an old mattress to fall on, and if you have kids, put a pair of anchors near the roof to allow them to climb in a harness.