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If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:46 pm
by Viktor K
I have a friend here, he can probably help look over design plans.

The living area is rather large. I will upload pictures soon.

The ceilings are tall enough for a decent overhang, and there's enough room there to make it happen.

I think a simple wall is appropriate. Some had suggested a simple project like a hanging board or pull-up bar. I think a simple climbing wall is on the same vein of thought processes.

The walls, I think, are all concrete? I've heard this is the norm in China, I don't see much to suggest otherwise, but I have no knowledge of how to discern the difference.

I will visit an alleged hardware store chain in Shenzhen soon. I will be able to see the prices for hardware and tools. My girlfriend will also be looking at joining a gym with exercise classes included. Thus, we will also see the cost of a pay-to-exercise business in Shenzhen.

I want to spend less than a monthly gym membership on my climbing wall at least over a 1 year period.

I think the tools may be a large investment. I think online it costs ¥1000+ for an electric drill.

Thoughts before I update with prices? I'm going to the hardware store, but I don't really even know what I should look for. My last DIY project was a near-disaster, in-door grow tent. Before that, I ended up at the Dr.'s office for a tetanus shot with a small infection in my big toe. I had stepped on a nail while building a bed frame.

I would like advice on building as simply and safely as possible. The work area is essentially a several feet by several feat area with one roof and two adjacent walls made entirely (I think) of concrete.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:32 am
by slowtraveler
Making is one of the ways to get what you want. I'm curious, have you looked at the local used market or checked if any of the local gyms have any relevant equipment they're looking to get rid of?

Good drills are expensive but last a lifetime. If you will only be using it for the building portion, it may be less expensive to rent or borrow one. Bring a handy friend to building day if you can.

Before you start buying equipment, it'd be efficient to design your wall's frame and figure out exactly what you're going to do in what order from start to end. It saves a lot of time instead of realizing you forgot to set up some piece and having to undue work to get back to that point or go to the store a million times. Ouch on the tetanus.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:45 am
by SavingWithBabies
Reddit DIY subreddit has some completed walls with costs and pros/cons of different approaches.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:04 pm
by Jean
Buy a good drill, or rent one.
Don't buy a crap drill, you'll need to make a lot of holes in concrete, and cheap tools die quickly.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:22 am
by Viktor K
It looks like when we move the couch we're left with a back wall that is roughly 2.5 meters wide by about 3 meters high. Solid concrete back wall. This will be built into a corner so the left concrete wall is the same height, and we can probably bring the climbing wall out to about a 1.5 or even 2 meter depth.

Taking the tips in this thread, I may try and stop by a few climbing gyms in Shenzhen to see if they have anything in the way of drills or old holds, or anything I can't think of now. The gyms here are pretty poor quality from what I've seen. A small climbing wall thrown into the back corner of a badminton court or something similar and forgotten. But they may have something. Second to-do-list item is checking the Reddit threads/internet for similar completed projects and trying to hack up a design. I should be able to post that here as well as send to the carptenter friend in Shenzhen.

The drill and tools is the tricky and likely most expensive part. I could rent a drill for building, but actually over time I would probably want my own drill since a hand drill can be used to quickly take holds out and move them somewhere else. I also want to get a grinder rather than buy holes, but I'm still considering other options at this time.

Renting a drill may be out of the question anyway, I'm not sure if Shenzhen has a rent-a-tool system or if I really have the social capital or Chinese proficiency to navigate the hurdles... I could try, though.


Posted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:04 am
by Viktor K
Can anyone here advise? I've found I can order everything in China off a website called baopals. Here is the link to one of my searches: ... me=plywood

This website automatically translates your search to Chinese and majority of the content of your results to English. But I can't figure out what sort of plywood I need.. Can you make heads or tails of these results?

I'll need to do this for the following:
  • wood screws of various lengths
  • hammer drill
  • t nuts
  • 2x4s
  • plate connectors
  • joist hangers
  • 90 degree connectors
Here is one of the websites I've been perusing for my materials list: ... l-For-150/

At this point, I'm wondering if I should just offer my foreign carpenter buddy whatever he wants to build everything for me :oops:

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:24 pm
by slowtraveler
(2) Sheets of 3/4" Plywood (3/4 RTD SHTG) @ $17.97 = $35.94
.75"~~ 19mm thickness

Honestly, this doesn't look hard. It looks time consuming. I have no doubts you can do this but construction work is generally a lot easier with an extra person to hold something up or stabilize moving big objects. Gf or any friend, handy helps but extra hands are invaluable.

You might be able to sneak the project in in between other things but this might take a few dedicated days to figure out the first time since you don't have wood working experience. It's okay to feel frustrated since you're in the middle of a transition and don't have as much time to figure this out right now. I keep seeing progress and there's no guarantee hiring out will get the job done right. This will help you take it apart/modify it later.

Are there no Home Depot equivalents there?

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:05 am
by Viktor K
So as far as dedicated Home Depot equivalents, I have asked around and it seems that there may be some. The Chinese people tell me they know of one nearby, but then nobody ever seems to actually share with me the address or the location! I've also heard rumor from foreigners of some foreigner shopping mecca where they have like import speciality grocery stores, outdoors stores, etc.

However, I think I can get everything online. And I think it will be easier since the mecca I described above is several metro stops away and I would then need to find out how to get all of my cut wood and 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, etc back to the apartment. The online ordering system here is amazing, it is literally delivered to my door!

Well, after a lot of trepidation, I've taken the first step and committed to starting this project. A tape measure is on the way.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:40 am
by Viktor K
Got the tape measure just now, and after some measurements of the living room... I've realized that designing the wall is going to be a little tougher than initially thought. In order to stay safe, I'll need a large enough landing zone. With my initial measurements, that means either building really small, or getting rid of the couch, T.V., and coffee table :lol:

I'm not opposed to doing so, but the furniture is in our lease, so I'll have to figure something else out....

The living room is 17'x13', or just about 5mx4m.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:33 am
by Viktor K
Here's some ideas... still not sure about fall-zone. The funny thing is, most of these images don't seem like they're much too worried about fall-zones either...Just going to leave the links for reference since the images are all different sizes and some are too big for the forum. ... fery-3.jpg ... .jpg?w=510 ... l-mark.jpg ... C_0633.jpg

The build guide I've been studying makes this wall basically: ... e_0001.jpg

Different pic of one of the walls above (I think, or one that's just as if not more badass)... I'll have to make sure my future home has a room/garage/place to build a shack for something like this: ... f6e7bd.jpg

Found this chart which will probably be useful: ... -walls.jpg

Here's a sick bouldering cave. With this sort of angle, I think the fall area could be reduced and the climbing area increased... ... timage.jpg

I'm just worried about smashing my head in on a concrete wall or bouncing off the tile floors :|

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:28 pm
by Viktor K
After reviewing space and needs, I think I'm narrowing in on what I want.

Ceiling are just over 9' tall. Of the living room's 17' length, I'd like to use up to half of it for the wall, leaving the other half for the living area.

Climbing Needs: strength training, fun, safe, allow for variety of moves

Non-climbing needs: potential to use sides for storage, shelving, interior decor for the living room, top or underneath as stow space for things like suitcases, winter clothes, tools

With these needs in mind, and evaluating my space last night, keeping fall zone needs in mind, I'm thinking the best option for me is going to be some sort of climbing cave like this: ... G_5123.jpg

I can't find a picture of one of my favorite climbing caves from an old gym, but one of the pictures above (this one) is a good representation as well.

Pros: 3 sides means I don't have to drill into the concrete, very strength intensive, high angle and low ceilings limits the need for large fall zone (falls are a short distance and moves are more controlled when climbing at this angle), 3 sides means outside of wall can be sided and used for decor, shelving, etc., allows for using the most of the space, top and underneath can be used for storage

Cons: if I side the outside, it will be difficult to maintain/change t nuts, free standing means more money, more difficult to build for inexperienced builder, high angle angle could get boring fast, will be very difficult for beginner/weak climbers (aka friends, girlfriend, even me probably at this point)

I think I can overcome most of these cons. I can sacrifice a few inches here and there to maintain accessibility to the back of the plywood sheets, money is countered by low spending and it'll still be cheaper than a smaller/simpler wall in the US, a lot of planning and consulting with more experienced builders should ensure success, I could try to include two or more different different angles (like half one angle, half a little steeper, with the added benefit of being able to set routes perpendicular across the angle change) and use scrap wood to make large temporary attachable features, and using jugs and lots of feet along the sides can make some easier beginner/warm-up routes.

Feeling a lot better about the wall now. The wall area is basically across from the wall mounted TV (which we don't use, but may move my computer desk from bedroom to there and use more), the couch would then naturally sit just in front of one of the side walls. Visualizing it in my head, it makes the living room much easier to decorate and give that home feel but you probably won't be able to mentally picture it so I'll upload some photos eventually.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:03 am
by Viktor K
Some mock-ups... My girlfriend is concerned that we won't be able to build a freestanding wall but I think we will be alright. We'll basically be building a cube with one side missing. So it will have a bottom, top, back, left and right, but no front. That's where you'll enter.

Here's some to-scale photos from some online home design software. They don't have anything for climbing walls, crash pads, sloped ceilings nor floors so obviously those are just thin walls for now, but it shows what I'm talking about as far as the layout.




Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:02 am
by Viktor K
I will probably use mattresses for the padding, which conveniently enough are 1900 or 2000 mm long, so I can put 2 or 3 together length-wise for my crash pad.

I've been looking at climbing wall framing to determine what sort of frame I'll need. The project will essentially be self-contained as far as a top, bottom, back and sides so that should be easy enough. Some of the designs just attach the climbing frame to the support structure, but these are mostly flat climbing surfaces. I would love to have a couple different angles at least. I know I could handle two angles easily enough, half on one side and half on the other, but if I want one face to start steep, and then change angle... I'm not sure if I'll need some sort of additional support.

For example, this wall:


vs. this wall:


My wall, as you can see from the sketches above, will be longer and likely have a steeper angle than both of those walls above. I'm not sure how that affects any additional support that I'll need.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:20 pm
by Randy
So were you able to build it? You’ve got me thinking about trying to build my own as well

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:22 pm
by Viktor K
Probably would have been able, but decided not to. Ended up joining a nearby gym and doing the 5-3-1 program now. I don't think the wall would have satisfied my climbing itch enough to warrant building it. I think, ideally, a home climbing wall would only be suitable for me if I also had a conveniently located quality climbing gym nearby or similarly conveniently located nearby outdoor climbing area.

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:10 am
by Randy
So no climbing wall as a substitute for a climbing gym? That's what I was hoping for so I won't have to say goodbye to the hobby completely when I move back home in three months. Thanks for planting the idea and collecting some resources :)

Re: If I wanted to build a climbing wall...

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:13 am
by Gilberto de Piento
Are you trying to stay in shape for climbing outdoors? You might consider and hangboard and/or a system board if you are mostly looking to train. Watch overdoing it though.

The mountainproject forums have a ton of info about building home walls.