Monthly Archives: December 2010

DIY: Build a Balance Balance Beam

This afternoon I built a balance beam for my daughter (6) for Christmas. When looking around for ideas on how to build a balance beam I found plenty of instructions but none that exactly fit what I had in mind. It took my wife and I about an hour in Lowe’s to find the exact combination of parts we needed to complete the build (listed below with the Lowe’s part number for each item just in case others might find them helpful):

 

  1. #6118 – 1 – 4″ X 6″ X 8′ Treated Lumber $14.97
  2. #21210 – 1 – 5/4″ X 6″ X 8′ Treated Decking $4.97
  3. #163807 – 1 – 1″ X 5 1/2″ X 12′ Composite Decking $28.97
  4. #323899 – Box 2 1/2″ X 9 Decking Screws $8.67
  5. #10777 – Box 1 1/4″ Wood Screws $7.89
  6. #327236 – 4 – 1 1/2″ Corner Braces $15.08

The total cost for the parts (minus sales tax) was $80.55.

Note: We chose materials designed to be used outdoors. This balance beam will be going in the backyard so it needs to be able to withstand the elements and our 6 year old at the same time. Real balance beams are covered in suede… this one uses a composite decking material that won’t splinter but has slightly less grip then suede… if you are building something for indoors you might change up your choice of lumber and go with the suede covering.

Here are the steps I used to construct the balance beam:

  1. Cut the 5/4″ board (item #2) in half (2 pieces 4′ long each) using a miter saw.
  2. Cut one 5/4″ board in half again (2 pieces 2′ long) using the miter saw (the two pieces will become the balance beam’s feet).
  3. Cut a 8′ 3″ piece off of the 12′ length of composite decking (item #3).
  4. Attach the 2 2′ long pieces of decking to the bottom of the 4 X 6 X 8 (item #1) lumber using the corner braces (item #6) in the following manner:
    1. Position the 4 X 6 X 8 lumber so that the 6″ segment was vertical (perpendicular to the ground).
    2. Center each 2′ decking board perpendicular to the 4 X 6 X 8 beam starting 1′ in from the end of the beam.
    3. Attach the decking boards to the beam using the corner braces (one on each side of the beam) and the 1 1/4″ wood screws (#5) to attach the braces to the board and the 2 1/2 decking screws (#4) to attach the braces to the beam.
    4. Important Note: The 1 1/4″ screws might poke out of the bottom of the board (mine did). You can use a metal file or dremel tool to remove the point. Alternatively you could get 1″ screws…
  5. Screw the composite decking (#3) to the top of the beam using the 2 1/2″ decking screws (#4).
    1. The decking has one rough and one smooth side. We chose to put the rougher side up for traction.
    2. If you cut the decking right it should overhang the beam by about 1/2″ on either end.
    3. The decking will also overhang the beam by about the same amount on each side of the beam.
    4. I recommend pre-drilling the decking before sinking the screws and making sure that each screw will end up just below the surface of the board for safety.
    5. I placed screws starting at the end of the decking at approximately 10″ intervals alternately between 2 screws and on central screw.
    6. Sand of any burrs that are left over from the drilling/screwing process.
    7. You might also fill the holes with some silicon caulk while you are at it…
Here is a very poor diagram of what the balance beam looks like from the top and side:
Balance Beam Diagram

Balance Beam Diagram

One final very, very important note: Although I and my brother and law tested the balance beam out by jumping up and down on it at the same time (combined weight of nearly 400 lbs) I am not an engineer and do not even play one on TV. If you choose to build a balance beam using the materials and rough instructions here you do so at your own risk and promise not to hold me liable for any injuries or unhappiness. Life is dangerous. People get hurt. I neither endorse nor condone walking on balance beams. Test your work out on yourself before unleashing your child on it.

Image: My Top Ten Photos of 2010

This has not been a year in which I spent a great deal of time practicing the “art” of photography. For the most part when I pick up the camera these days its to capture snapshots and not to try and carefully craft an image. That isn’t to say that I think I haven’t managed to capture a few images along the way that might be worthy of a second look… so when I saw Tom Varden’s My Top Ten Photos of 2010 post (who got the idea from Jim M. Goldstein’s blog) I was motivated to go through my image to see if I could pick 10 I liked enough to put label as my top ten for 2010.

So here it goes, my top ten photos of 2010, a mixture of fun portraits, travel photos (from my new favorite city Bangkok), and one lone macro shot:

Sophia in the pool, Singer Island

Sophia in the pool, Singer Island

Wat Saket Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Saket Bangkok, Thailand

Sophia

Sophia

Temple Cat, Wat Pho Bangkok, Thailand

Temple Cat, Wat Pho Bangkok, Thailand

Young Monk Bangkok, Thailand

Young Monk Bangkok, Thailand

Continue reading

Image: The Blue Lamp

Blue glass lamp photographed with my Sigma 105MM lens and the Vivitar 6000AF Macro Flash.

Blue Lamp

Blue Lamp

Image: The force is strong in this one

Pez dispenser photographed using my Vivitar 6000 AF Macro flash attached to a Sigma 105MM macro lens. Shot with a basic piece of white printer paper serving as the back drop.

Luke Skywalker Pez Dispenser

Luke Skywalker Pez Dispenser

I am having a ton of fun looking around the house for things to photograph with the ring flash.

Image: All of my teeth are falling out…

Playing around with my Vivitar 6000 AF Macro Flash for portraiture. Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to document the massive gap in my daughter’s teeth.

Sophia, Minus 4 Teeth

Sophia, Minus 4 Teeth