If you are a gymnast, of whatever age, you may be curious as to how to make a balance beam.
You’ll want to have one so that you can learn all the skills of making sure you have balance and poise, and this is a popular sport in many places.
If you learn how to make one, then you’ll be able to practice your skills anywhere.
Making the Beam
The first thing you’ll need to do is buy the wood from your local hardware store . If you want to build the beam, you’ll need to buy:
- six eight-foot pieces of 1×6 beams
- four twelve-inch 2×4 planks
- four 24-inch 2×4 planks
Be sure that you measure all the pieces in the hardware store before you buy them, to make sure you are getting the exact fit you need to build your balance beam.
You’ll also want to buy all the other things you need . This includes:
- soap and water
- waterproof glue that can be used on wood
- wood clamps (or really heavy weights)
- sanding plane or a sand belt
- angle holders (these should come with screws)
- screwdriver (for installing angle holders)
- 32 wood screws
- synthetic suede (preferably padded)
After this, you’ll want to wash all of your wood pieces with soap and water. Be sure you remove all the dirt to make building your balance beam easier.
Without cleaning your wood pieces, you’ll have a tough time getting the glue to hold the pieces together.
Then, you’ll want to glue the six eight-foot wood beams together. Be sure that you liberally apply the glue, to make sure that your wood pieces will stick together as best as they can.
First, put them together vertically, then glue the flat sides with the widest surfaces together using an industrial-strength glue made especially for wood. Be sure that you give the beams plenty of time to dry before moving forward.
Keep in mind that your goal for this part is to make one large beam that is about eight feet long and 4.5 inches wide.
The 4.5-inch surface will serve as the top of your balance beam.
Professional Gymnast on a Balance Beam
Next, while the glue dries, you’ll want to secure your balance beam. You are making progress!
You can always use wood clamps to secure your beam. If you are without a clamp, try using a heavy weight to make sure the beams stick together easily.
You should be sure to let the beams dry for about a day, or 24 hours
Next, you’ll want to sand the wood on your homemade balance beam. You should take off the clamps or the weights and then sand using a sanding plane or a sand belt, whichever works better for you.
Make sure you keep your surface even as you sand.
After you do this, and your sanding job is perfect, you’ll want to use steel angle holders on your beam.
Be sure that you install the angle holders to the ends of your beam, on the underside.
Make sure you use the screws that they come with, and attach them about 12 inches from the end of each side of your balance beam.
Adding the Base
Make sure your beam has legs! You’ll want to hook the four twelve-inch pieces of two-by-four planks in the angle holders .
This will make the legs for your balance beam. Be sure to use about four wood screws per leg. You will need sixteen screws total.
If you look at your beam, you will see four spaces available for your legs, in the angle holders.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you anchor each leg at the base. You’ll want to use four wood screws per leg to anchor a 24-inch piece of two-by-four plank to the bottom of each leg .
It’s very important to get this right, for this will create greater balance and support for your balance beam.
Cover your balance beam with synthetic suede. You can also try using felt, old clothes that you’ve cut to fit the size of your balance beam , an old bed cover or duvet cover that you’ve cut to fit the size of your balance beam.
Any of these should make a fine balance beam covering. You’ll want to cut a long strip of suede (preferably padded) and make sure it fits both the width and length of your balance beam.
Professional Gymnast on a Balance Beam
Then, you’ll want to glue the suede padding to your balance beam to create comfort as you practice your gymnastics at home.
You’ll want to be comfortable, so choose a piece that fits all the way around your balance beam , and make sure you fasten it to the bottom with the angle holders. This is the best way to make sure your suede padding stays secure.
And if you are going to use the beam indoors, consider adding suede pieces to the bottom of the legs of your balance beam. This will prevent the beam from scratching your floors up with its scraping wood, no?
Make sure you let the padding dry all the way before you attempt to use the beam
To Sum it Up
Now, you know exactly how to make a balance beam. With all of this knowledge at your side, you are ready to start by making a trip to your local hardware store to buy all the items you’ll need to get started.
Just think…you’ll be able to practice gymnastics in style, all because you put in some extra time building your balance beam to use from the comfort of your home.
This means you can practice your skills anytime you want, and you’re sure to improve quickly by working on your skills from home. Good luck!
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About Jennifer Kelly
I’m a former acrobatic gymnast from Edmond, Oklahoma. I started doing acrobatic gymnastics in 2001 after watching my best friend practice acrobatic gymnastics.
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Build Your Own Gymnastics Balance Beam
There are several methods to make a gymnastics balance beam for home use. They can run the gamut from the most basic wooden beam to one covered with carpet. Or you can make a more elaborate balance beam padded and wrapped in synthetic suede. However you decide, this project isn’t too difficult and can save you money. Most supplies you need can be found at a local home improvement store.
First a little background. All competitive gymnasts are required to perform on the balance beam apparatus. Beams used in international gymnastics competitions must conform to the strict guidelines and specifications set forth by the International Gymnastics Federation Apparatus Norms. Originally, the balance beam surface was polished wood. Since the 1980s, beams have been covered in synthetic suede. Today’s competition beams are also sprung to accommodate the stress of high-difficulty tumbling and dance skills. This is why gymnasts who are competing can be very particular about the apparatus they use at the gym vs the apparatus you might make at home. Therefore, it is always a good idea to consider the level of the gymnast when deciding to start this project
The regulation length for a competition balance beam is 16 ft 5 inches. Many homeowners can not accommodate an apparatus of this size in the home, therefore decide to make a shorter one. Many home-made balance beams range from 8 to 12 feet in length, however, all are a standard 4 inches in width. The height of the beam will depend on where it is used. We do not recommend using balance beams outdoors as it can be difficult to get a stable surface to prevent wobbling. Your apparatus should always be used on a flat surface.
For beginners age 3-6 a basic wooden beam will provide a great introduction to the sport. As the gymnast gets older this same apparatus can be wrapped in carpet to provide a bit of padding or you can choose to wrap it in synthetic suede to give it the realistic look and feel of a standard balance beam.
(6) 1 x 6 lumber 8 ft. long (or any desired length)
(2) 2 x 4 lumber 20″ long for the legs
Wood Glue (such as Elmer’s Carpenters wood Glue)
3M Spray Adhesive
Suede Topper for carpet beam (option for carpet beam)
4 inch adhesive loop strip (option for padding)
Synthetic Suede Fabric (cover option)
Iron leg brace option
Glue the six 8-foot pieces of 1-by-6 inch pine lumber together so that their sides are fully contacting one another. This will create a block of wood that is 8 feet long with a side of about 4.5 inches.
Glue liberally between the boards and use clamps to make sure that the glue fastens itself to the wood. Let dry overnight. Using a Belt Sander go over entire beam and sand to smooth finish. If staining your beam you can use finer grade sandpaper with an Orbital Sander to create a smooth finish. If covering the beam with carpet or Suede this step may be omitted.
For a stained wooden beam. After sanding to smooth finish, apply stain to your beam.
To make a carpet covered beam you will use heavy-duty staples and wrap the beam with the carpet. Start by stapling carpet to bottom side of the balance beam and tightly wrap carpet around beam and staple underside of beam only. You may also use spray adhesive to further secure the carpet to the beam.
For a synthetic suede covered beam you will want to pad the beam first using a neoprene strip. It can be difficult to find 4 inch wide neoprene which is used on professional beams therefore many home-made beams use yoga mats to pad the beam. You do not want the beam to be too soft so minimal padding is needed. Do not staple padding. Use glue only as staples will cause dimples. You can also use 4 inch wide adhesive peel and stick loop to create padding as well. Continue attaching the suede to the beam by applying spray adhesive to the top and sides of the balance beam. Working from the bottom of the beam, staple the Suede along the bottom. This is a 2 person project as one needs to tightly pull the Suede around the beam evenly while it is being secured with the adhesive. Make sure your balance beam is completely dry before use.
For a basic beam you will screw the (2) 20 inch 2 x 4 wood braces to each end. Place each brace at a 90 degree angle to the beam 12 inches from each end.
Alternatively, you can purchase iron manufactured balance beam braces you simply screw into the bottom of your beam. These braces come in a variety of heights and can even make your beam adjustable. It is possible to convert your basic beam to metal braces later on. One advantage to metal braces is they are tall enough to allow a mat to slide under the balance beam while the gymnast is using it.
Use home-made balance beams at your own discretion. As your beam is not a professionally made piece of equipment it is only as strong as your craftsmanship. Use with supervision as gymnastics is a sport with inherent risk of possible injury.
Posted on Last updated: July 26, 2020 Categories Home DIY/Improvements, Kids Activities/Crafts
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Balance beams are so fun and great for kids to practice their balance. This super easy DIY balance beam can be made in a couple minutes. You just need a few supplies.
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I’ve been wanting a balance beam for the kids for a couple months now. Once we decided to build the pikler triangle for Christmas, I knew I wanted a balance beam next.
Then, I sort of forgot about it. Does that ever happen to you? I completely forgot about the project!
But, remember that DIY outdoor shade poles we made last summer? Well, we didn’t take down the shades and the Santa Ana’s have been strong recently.
All month the poles have been falling down. The wind has been ripping out the guide line and the pots and everything has been falling. We’ve been fixing it all month.
But then last week the wind pulled the pole right out of the concrete base. Cracked the concrete in half! So John laid the beam off to the side, for us to fix eventually.
Well the kids found it and started walking on it. Light bulb!! We have our balancing beam.
DIY Balance Beam
To create the DIY balance beam we took the 4x4x8 foot beam that we had used for the DIY shade poles and added some ‘legs’. For the legs we used 2×4’s.
This project was completely free because we had all the supplies on hand. We used kreg jig pocket holes to attach everything together.
This project was so easy that even the kids could help! They both helped drill the pocket holes in and attach the legs. The whole project, even with the cutting and the kids helping was less than 20 minutes total!
This step by step woodworking project is about balance beam plans. If you want to keep your kids busy and to develop their balance, you should build this easy yard game. This project features instructions for building a balance beam from 4×4 lumber. Follow the building codes and hire a professional contractor if you don’t have the right skills to undertake the project on your own.
We recommend you to invest in the best materials you could afford. Therefore, you should buy quality lumber, such as pine. Always take accurate measurements before adjusting the size of the components at the proper size. Drill pilot holes trough the components before inserting the wood screws, to prevent the wood from splitting.
Made from this plan
Building a balance beam
[tabs tab1=”Materials” tab2=”Tools” tab3=”Tips” tab4=”Time”]
- A – 3 pieces of 4×4 lumber – 24″ long BASE
- B – 1 piece of 4×4 lumber – 144″ long BED FRAME
- C – 2 pieces of 3/4″ plywood – 38 1/2″x56″ long SURFACE
[/tab] [tab >
- Safety gloves, glasses
- Miter saw, jigsaw
- Chalk line, tape measure, spirit level, carpentry pencil
- Drill machinery and drill bits
[/tab] [tab >
- Adjust the size of the beam to suit your needs
[/tab] [tab >
- One Weekend
Balance Beam Plans
Building the base supports
Build the base for the balance beam from 4×4 lumber. Cut the ends of the beams at 45 degrees, as shown in the diagram. In addition, you need to make a notch to the middle of the supports, as shown in the plans. Use a chisel to remove the excess and smooth the recess with sandpaper.
Build the beam from 4×4 lumber. You can adjust the size of the balance beam to suit your needs.
Cut the ends of the beam at 45 degrees, for extra appeal. Smooth the edges with sandpaper.
Fitting the base supports
Fit the supports to the beam. Place the supports equally-spaced and make sure the corners are square. Drill pilot holes and insert 5″ lag bolts. Insert the bolts on diagonal, at least two for each joint.
Balance Beam Plans
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Starting from the moment my daughter could walk (which wasn’t until almost 15 months old), we enrolled her every month either in gymnastics, Gymboree, or swimming (with me in the water too!) to increase her physical strength. She had a rough little baby life and started physical therapy at 2 months old for torticollis and a flat head. She also has mild hip dysplasia, which was discovered too late to correct easily with a hip harness. So basically we are doing everything we can now to keep the torticollis under control and help the hip dysplasia improve without having to pursue aggressive treatment. As such, physical activity and strengthening exercises are so important for her!
Her favorite part of gymnastics by far–even surprisingly more so than the trampoline–is the balance beam! She still prefers to hold a hand so she can practically jog down the balance beam, but even by herself she can walk down the beam slowly. She also finds it fun to jump from the beam to the floor. Since she loved the beam so much at gymnastics, we decided it would be so easy to make one to have at home. Hence, this post on how to make a DIY toddler balance beam.
Balance Beam DIY – Much Less Expensive!
My dad was happy to help us! And I was happy for the help since we were able to make a cheap wooden balance beam for toddlers for less than 10$! There are some great looking balance beams on Amazon, but we don’t have that kind of money laying around for something that my daughter may tire of after a couple of months!
Here’s the finished balance beam for now!
One day I’m going to get around to giving it a covering, but it’s not currently high on my priority list.
What You Need for This Toddler Balance Beam DIY:
- Wood (Two 8′ 2″x4″s and one 8′ 2″”x2″). Got mine from Lowe’s.
- Saw, drill
- Clamps, if desired
- Something to sand with
- Tape measure
A Brief DIY Balance Beam Tutorial:
We wanted a 6 foot balance beam to allow for easy storage by the 6 foot window in the playroom. Thus, each of the three 8′ pieces of wood were cut to 6′. We sawed the two remaining feet of each of the 2″x4″‘s in half. This produced a total of four 1’ pieces of wood.
We screwed the three 6 foot wood pieces together in several places along the length of the beam. As you can see, the 2″x4″‘s were on the outside sandwiching the 2″x2″ on the inside.
Then, at the ends of the balance beam, we added a base made out of two of the 1’ 2″x4″‘s and screwed it to the beam.
Here’s the underside of the beam.
All the wood has been sanded to make sure there are no sharp ends and to decrease splinter potential. I have also reserved the other two 1′ 2″x4″‘s to stack underneath the current base to make the beam a little higher off the ground once my daughter gets more stable on it.
Overall, my daughter has loved her DIY toddler balance beam so far! What do you think of the design?
Also, check out some of our other crafting & DIY ideas here!
By Practical Mama |
This post may contain affiliate links
My daughter has been doing gymnastics for the last year. She really wants to improve to go up a level and in order to improve she needs to practice. One of the two pieces of gym equipment she has been asking for was a balance beam. Sturdy balance beams start around $180-$200 on the web. I couldn’t find any nearby on Craigslist. During my research, I’ve figured we can build a gymnastics balance beam that stays low and is used for simple practices.
- 2 4x4x8 wood
- 1 piece uncut
- 1 piece cut in 2 pieces of 2’, 4 pieces of 10 ¼. Keep the small remaining piece.
- 4 pieces of 7” 4×1 wood
- 3 yards soft padding: I purchased an outdoor sponge padding fabric. 1′ x 60″
- 3 yards of cover fabric: I got fabric that looks like faux-suede from Jo-ann’s and used a coupon for discount.
- Staple gun
- Gorilla Glue
- Clamps for woodworking
- 32 wood screws (2 1/2”)
Tools for woodworking
1. Cut the padding in 6” wide. Glue it on the side if the wood that is going to be walked on to prevent slipping.
Staple the sides of the padding to the wood with a staple gun.
Cut the cover fabric about 16” wide.
Cover the fabric around the wood, on the padding and staple it at the bottom. Fold the fabric at the ends and staple them.
The bar is ready. We tried it to make sure it fits the spacing in between the two pieces of woods without pushing them outside.
Glue the 2 pieces of short on to the 2′ wood and wait until the glue is hardened while clamping them together.
Place the 4×1’s on each side of the stand. Drill holes for screws first, then screw 4 to fasten the two pieces together.
Beam is ready. Stand is ready. Place the beam on the stand. You can put the small remaining piece of wood under the beam to prevent bending.
My daughter loved it commenting that it feels like the real thing.
Wood: 10.49 x2= $20.98
Fabric: $13.49 (with coupon)
Padding: $3.39 (with coupon)
Other materials: we had them
The time it took to build
Approximately 3 hours with kids helping us. It’s a great project to do it with the kids.
Important note: This instruction is provided for information purposes only. This is not a professional grade balance beam. Please keep that in mind and take all precautions to make sure the beam is stable, padded properly with a mat underneath, and used under supervision when practicing.
This is a simple DIY balance beam for toddlers to practice balancing, which is a major gross motor skill for every toddler, and preschooler, to learn.
Use this beam at no real risk of you toddler falling and getting hurt!
I read an article at Balanced and Barefoot about the importance of getting the kids moving (and why they fidget). Letting them move, and most importantly, building their core strength.
Balancing does that. And kids definitely need it.
Making a backyard DIY balance beam is so simple that a toddler can even make it themselves!
Making a DIY Balance Beam for Toddlers:
Supplies Needed for Your Toddler Balance Beam:
- Scrap wood planks
So, grab some scrap wood from the garage or shop and lay out in the lawn.
(If you have clean boards, bring it inside for an indoor walk the plank activity, an idea from No Time For Flash Cards.)
Add corners to your toddler DIY balance beam where you like, you could even make a balance beam maze for toddlers!
How cool would that be? We love mazes!
Or one simple piece of board is enough, too.
Setting up your toddler balance beam is as simple as that.
How to Use the DIY Balance Beam for Toddlers:
Now that you are all set up it’s time to play.
Even more simple is the activity itself!
Just walk the line!
Walk your way across the boards, and learn a very important physical skill.
And there you have it! A DIY balance beam activity to keep your toddler busy while building core strength and gross motor skills.
This is a simple toddler activity included in our 50 activities just for your toddler collection.
A simple DIY balance beam like this will help toddlers learn to balance a bike to ride.
Henry is now older and rode his bike without training wheels at 4 1/2 years old. I’m convinced this contributed to that.
But this will also help them gain core strength which will hopefully, in turn, help them fidget less.
What Other Ways Are There to Practice Balance?
- Walk the line of tape
- 20 physical activities for toddlers with lots of energy
- Tell us your ideas in the comments!
More Hands on Kids Activities to Try
- An Uneven Book Trail for Gross Motor Fun
- Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers: The Top 35!
- 15 of the SIMPLEST Activities Yet
- 30 Energetic Activities for Kids with High Energy
- Turn These 15 Outdoor Activities into 15 Fun Indoor Activities for Kids
Guille Garcia says
As balancing is the most important key element in doing gymnastics this kid toddlers help a lot kids to make skills of balancing in early ages.
For the letter B I made a balancing beam with all the Duplo, putting square pieces in between rectangular ones. We then put strips of tape down the beam to strengthen it. This was the first part, interactive and an accomplishment. Also a novel way to use an old toy. Then we used it as a balancing beam for a few days.
I saw balance bean in the title of the post and automatically thought of kids balancing in the air… whew! Love the idea of letting the kids design the course. And super easy to mix it up with different shapes!
My girls love to walk on the balance beam inside with painters tape on the rug. Super easy to put down and take up.
When we are out for a walk, I have the kids walk along inside sidewalk curbs and the top of short block walls. It’s perfect. and they love it.
This is going on our To-Do Immediately list. I like the wood blocks idea, too, Brenna, in case I can’t find the right types of boards!
We do an indoor balance beam/walking path with those colored foam craft squares you can buy at most grocery, drug, and craft stores.
I linked to this post on my Camp Backyard post. 🙂
Michelle Breum says
My kids like to make teeter totters out of our extra boards. The balance beam maze idea looks like fun.
Learning to balance on wood blocks takes practice and is a great way to learn. We set up a balance beam last week during our Circus week. One balance beam was wood blocks; another was a tape line on the floor. It took much more work and concentration on the block beam.
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Last night my daughter accomplished something during her gymnastics class. She did her first ever pullover on the bars! She was so excited. She kept doing it over and over, and the instructor let her write her name on the wall to commemorate the achievement.
This morning I wanted to make something to show her how proud I am of her and her sister. Something that can help them throughout the week to improve their chosen extracurricular activity. I would have loved to make some bars for them to swing around on, but that’s a harder project for a more ambitious day. (Or my husband.)
Below are a few pre-made balance beams I found online in case you’re not confident in your handyman skills:
DIY Balance Beams
Instead, I came up with the idea to make a balance beam for my little gymnastic girls. I was so happy to take my plans to Menards and find out that all of these materials only cost $30. I used a drill and a staple gun, but already had those things on hand.
The supplies I bought were:
- 1 – 4″ x 4″ x 8′ – around $8
- 1 – roll of foam padding (not sure what it’s used for) – around $5
- 8 sq. ft. (mine was 12 sq. foot) of carpet – I found some for around .50 cents/sq. ft. – $7
- 2 – junk ‘value’ 2″ x 4″s – .49 cents each – $1
- 4 – 3 1/2″ L Brackets – $4
- 16 wood screws 1 1/2″ long – around $5
So, I got out the drill, (and I honestly had to call my husband to learn how to use it) and pre-drilled holes for the screws to attach the 2″ x 4″s to the beam on both ends. I didn’t really measure anything, but if you want to be more precise, feel free.
After drilling the holes, I hand screwed the screws into the L brackets as shown in the picture above. I did this for both sides of the beam.
I then (and I don’t have a picture) stapled the foam padding directly to the top of the beam. It fit perfectly and there was plenty to run the whole length of the beam.
After the padding was stapled, I started on one side of the beam and stapled the carpet along the whole side. I wrapped the carpet snuggly to the other side as I stapled it. No staples on top!
I also stapled some carpet on the ends to make it look more finished. And the above picture is what it looked like after I finished with it outside.
I did get all material that could be used indoor/outdoor, so the balance beam can be used anywhere.
The girls wanted to bring it inside, so I did and I also wanted to wrap some carpet around the 2″ x 4″s to protect their feet a little if they fell off onto them. So, I just stapled more carpet around each side of them as you can see in the picture below.
You can also see that my cat has discovered it and claimed it for her own.
But, this is the real reason for a little time and money to make this DIY balance beam for the girls.
I enjoyed making it. It was actually fairly simple (after a crash course in drill usage) and only took an hour or two. I’m thinking of adding some fabric letters to the side of the beam also! Think they’d look okay?
If you make one of these for your kids I would love to see it! Leave a comment below with your link so I can check it out!
In case you do not have much time on your hands and are looking for something quick ans simple, here are my favorite pre-made balance beams: