System Wall - Freestanding, Adjustable
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*These designs are provided free of charge as inspiration for your personal projects. They are not foolproof, and we assume no liability and cannot be held responsible for any injury or damage incurred in relation to their use. Building your own climbing wall is dangerous, use at your own risk. That said, good luck!
This design is meant solve the difficulty of building a freestanding, completely adjustable system wall that does not rely on any external structures for support. It is a relatively standard 8'x12' climbing surface with a 1' kicker and 20cm spacing between t-nuts.
- Adjustable from 0-60 degrees (5 degree increments).
- Winch powered (hex drive, allowing hand operation or your drill/driver)
Footprint: 106 x 144" .These dimensions are for the frame on the floor, when inclined to 60 degrees the wall is approximately 150" from end to end. You can reduce the length of the front legs if you limit the range of incline to 35 degrees max. You risk tipping otherwise.
Total Vertical Height: 192" at 60 degree incline, 157" at 0 degree incline.
Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced
*Some steps in the assembly will require a minimum of 3 strong individuals.
This is relatively complex build. Be sure to read through this tutorial completely to be sure you are confident you have the skills, resources, and confidence needed to complete it. This design package will walk you through 80% of the details. Things like screw spacing, pre-drilling holes, etc. we leave up to you. We assume you are already a competent carpenter.
And as always, BE SAFE! Wear your safety goggles, hearing protection, gloves, etc.
Step 1: Assemble Tools
You will need the following:
Cordless Drill / Driver (DeWalt has never let me down)
7/16” Drill Bit (We recommend a Spade Bit)
⅛” Standard Drill Bit
Straight edge (48” preferred)
Random Orbital Hand Sander (or just sandpaper)
Clamps/weights (optional, but useful)
Step 2: Purchase Materials
Order the T-nuts you prefer on Amazon (see links on the shopping list below, for more detail check out our article "Building a Climbing Wall"), then take a trip down to your local HD. Bring this list, and feel free to ask one of their associates to help you hunt it all down. You can also pre-order most if not all of it online and have it ready to pick up for you. They will not have T-nuts, unless they've become even more cool since this article was written.
The total cost for this list is around $800, but please note that this does not include any paint, climbing holds, or climbing mats.
|4||0.68 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. CMPC A/C Plywood||38.98||homedepot.com|
|7||2 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. #2 and Better Prime Douglas Fir Lumber||11.78||homedepot.com|
|1||2 in. x 6 in. x 10 ft. #2 and Better Prime Douglas Fir Board||13.36||homedepot.com|
|8||2 in. x 6 in. x 12 ft. #2 and Better Prime Douglas Fir Board||17.43||homedepot.com|
|2||3 in. x 6 in. x 16 ft. #2 and Better Prime Douglas Fir Board||30.72||homedepot.com|
|2||3/8 in. Zinc-Plated Flat Washer (25-Pack)||3.98||homedepot.com|
|1||BOLTS - 25 PACK - 3/8-16" - BLACK OXIDE||17.00||megalithclimbing.com|
|2||#10 x 3 in. T-Star Plus Flat Head Interior/Exterior HCR-X Screw (67-Box)||11.58||homedepot.com|
|2||#10 x 2 in. T-Star Flat Head Interior / Exterior HCR-X Screw (99 per Box)||11.58||homedepot.com|
|230||INDUSTRIAL Round Base T-nut (Zinc)||0.35||atomikclimbingholds.com|
|1||6 in. Heavy Strap Hinge in Zinc-Plated (5-Pack)||24.19||homedepot.com|
|5||1-1/2 in. Zinc-Plated Rigid Single Pulley||5.98||homedepot.com|
|5||3/8 in. x 4 in. Zinc-Plated Eye Bolt with Nut||0.95||homedepot.com|
|5||1/4" Quick Link (880 lbs.)||1.46||homedepot.com|
|1||3/16 in. x 50 ft. Galvanized Uncoated Steel Wire Rope||20.98||homedepot.com|
|1||Dutton-Lainson Company WG1500HD 1500 lbs Worm Gear Winch with Hex Drive||115.00||amazon.com|
- You may consider purchasing paint, stain, varnish, etc. See blog article “Building a Climbing Wall” under “Finishing Your Climbing Wall Surface”.
- You may also consider using Liquid Nails construction adhesive to eliminate potential squeaks and add additional solidity to your wall (see Step 7).
Step 3: Cut and Drill Lumber and Ply
Yep, its a lot to take in. This will take some time, but just work through it methodically and you'll make it.
Step 4: Install T-Nuts
With the plywood facing climbing side down, install the T-nuts in each of their holes. Pronged T-nuts will need to be hammered in. We recommend having the plywood laid out flat on concrete (with a thin protective barrier) to act as a solid "anvil". It will bounce all over the place on all but the most solid tables. If they are screw ins, simply screw each one in place.
Step 5: Sand all the Edges
Use the random orbital hand sander to sand smooth all the corners, edges, and any splintering sections of the lumber and plywood. This is not absolutely necessary, but will dramatically improve the finished appearance and reduce the likelihood of splinters.
Step 6: Assemble Frames
There are three main frames that need to be assembled here: the kicker, the wall, and the roof.
*You will probably want to assemble these in the final location where you will keep the wall, they don't fit through most doors.*
Follow the illustrations below:
*Ensure studs with holes are properly positioned
*Ensure studs with holes are properly positioned
*You may need to add shims to make sure this slides easily over the scaffold beam. Insert t-nut on inside hole.
Step 8: Screw Plywood to the Frame
Place the plywood carefully on top of each frame, with the side you wish to face the climber facing up. Ensure proper alignment, and clamp in place. Proceed to screw the plywood to the frame using a 2” screw every 12-16", starting with the four corners.
Step 9: Surface Finish
It is usually easier to finish, coat, or paint your wall assembly parts before they are assembled, unless you wish to make a multi section mural or something along those lines.
Using the sander or sandpaper, go over any last spots that may be sharp or splinter prone.
Proceed to finish as desired. See article “Building a Climbing Wall” under the section “Finishing Your Climbing Wall Surface” for more detail on this.
Step 10: Assemble
You are going to want to have a couple friends on hand ready to help out here. These sections are heavy, and dropping one could cause serious damage to you and/or your wall. Be smart, take precautions, etc.
Install 5 hinges spread evenly across the top of your kicker. The barrels should be flush with the climbing face (see pictures).
Use blocks or your friends to hold the main wall in place at 90 degrees allowing you to screw mount the hinges to its base.
Slide locks over the scaffolding as shown. Ensure t-nuts are facing in.
Bolt scaffolding to base, then the wall to the locks where shown. 4 bolts (4th bolt not shown, mirror visible bolts). Use T-nuts inserted in base and wall studs at bolt locations. Ensure T-nuts are placed "inside" the member so they cannot pull out.
Install pulley and cable system, mount winch and attach cable as directed in winch instructions. Ensure winch will not interfere with locks at full 60 degree incline. Eye bolts can be secured with t-nuts or standard hardware. Use washers if standard nuts are used.
Engage the winch and lift the wall into the desired position. Use 3" bolts to secure the locks in place.
If you made it this far, I tip my hat to you. It was a lot of work but now you've got one sick climbing wall!
Notes on Operation
The cable and winch are the adjustment mechanism, and the wall should not be climbed on without the locks secured. The pulleys and hardware are designed to withstand loads up to 1000 lbs and your wall weight only around 500, but it's never a good idea to rely on a system where if just one thing goes wrong you could be injured. Engaging the locks makes it so 3 separate systems would need to simultaneously fail, which is virtually impossible. Be sure to use them!
Your wall may bounce around a bit if you're doing heavy climbing at steep angle. Use sandbags or another form of counterweight placed over the rear legs and/or in the kicker to prevent this.
And of course, BE SAFE! Always climb with a pad, and a spotter when getting after it.
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