Freestanding Pull-Up Bar

I currently live in an old California Victorian, and am unable to use COTS pull-up bars. Thus, a freestanding pull-up bar made out of wood/pipe/carriage bolts.

The pull-up bar that was made here can be duplicated exactly, or modified to one’s needs. A reader can make their set-up bigger/smaller. I’m 6’2″, and this size was comfortable for me. Also make sure to have plenty of room to put it together, as well as a rather permanent place to put it, moving it will take time.

1/4 Tools:

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Skilsaw, for various wood cutting. Ideally we’ll get our wood cut for free when we buy it, but furthur cuts/modifications always happen.

Tape measure.
Crescent wrench.
Vise Grip Brand Locking Pliers.
Drill Bits.
3/8 inch drill bit.
Phillips screwdriver drill bit.
Hechinger 4 in 1 screwdriver.
Spade drill bit set. 1 1/4 inch bit is what we need.
Old socket-set I keep in the Jeep.
Pound of three inch wood screws.
Black and Decker drill.

2/4 Materials:

Wood, Douglas Fir, it’s cheap, it’s strong. Make sure it’s dry, straight, and has few knots.

When you have the store cut your wood, make sure to keep the scraps. Most stores will try to keep them to re-sell…wood scraps are valuable to use as a work bench as you drill/saw. When you’re entirely done with the project the scraps can be used for a bonfire.

2 * eight foot 4x4s
3 * 5’4″ foot 2x4s
4 * 3 foot 2x4s
4 * 4 foot 2x4s
4 * .5 foot 2x4s
8 * 8″x3/8″ carriage bolts
8 * 3/8″ lock washers
8 * 3/8″ nuts
1 * 5 foot, 1″ diameter, steel pipe
1 * Pound of three inch wood screws

3/4 Plans:

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Using our favorite open-source 3D modeling program, Blender, here is a perfectly scale model. You can see where each piece of wood goes in the plan: the entire assembly is five feet wide, three feet long, and eight feet (plus two inches) tall.

4/4 Construction:

1. Drill the holes for the pull-up bar. Lay both four by fours on top of each other, with the ‘bottom’ of the four by fours pushed against the wall. As you drill straight down with the 1.25″ spade bit, the hole will be in the exact same spot on both posts, so the bar will be level. Make sure to do this with the wood sitting on two scrap blocks, one on either end. This way you won’t put the spade bit through the carpet when you get to the other end. This is where you get to see how shitty your wood is. When I got one inch into the first four by four, all of the wood chips that were coming out were soaking wet. Blend.

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2. For the stabilizer two by fours on each side, lay all the pieces of wood as they will end up. Drill four, evenly spaced holes through all three pieces of wood for the carriage bolts. A c-clamp might be helpful to hold the wood together. Again, do this on blocks of scrap wood so you don’t drill into the floor. Blend.

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3. Now put the carriage bolts into each hole, with the washer, lock washer, and nut on the otherside. I put the flush side of the carriage bolt on the inside, which helps to protect the feet in the case of falling/errant pull-ups. Use the ratchet set and/or cresent wrench to fully tighten, make sure the flush ends of the carriage bolts are securely pulled into the wood.

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4. Now we begin using the wood screws. It is advisable to drill a hole that is just smaller than the screw into the wood, then to drill the screw in. This allows the screw to go in more easily. The three horizontal stabilizers are the next step. I found it convenient to have a friend hold the vertical assemblies up as I screwed in the stabilizers.

5. Stand the whole assembly up! Watch out for lamps/anything on the ceiling. Go ahead and slide the pull-up bar in. As is, this a pretty stable set-up, but after several months there will be more and more play in the vertical four by fours.

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6. The final step is the four diagonal stabilizers. Drill in each spacer block, drill in each stabilizer.

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7. Complete. You know have a strong, stable, conversation-piece of exercise equipment. Possible extensions:

1. Sand and paint the whole thing.
2. Water-seal the whole thing.
3. Rough-up the pull-up bar using a drill and wire brush.
4. Cover the pull-up bar in pine tar.
5. Put carriage bolts at all joins.
6. Add different holes in the vertical posts for different pull-up heights.
7. Etc.

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