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):
- #6118 – 1 – 4″ X 6″ X 8′ Treated Lumber $14.97
- #21210 – 1 – 5/4″ X 6″ X 8′ Treated Decking $4.97
- #163807 – 1 – 1″ X 5 1/2″ X 12′ Composite Decking $28.97
- #323899 – Box 2 1/2″ X 9 Decking Screws $8.67
- #10777 – Box 1 1/4″ Wood Screws $7.89
- #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:
- Cut the 5/4″ board (item #2) in half (2 pieces 4′ long each) using a miter saw.
- 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).
- Cut a 8′ 3″ piece off of the 12′ length of composite decking (item #3).
- 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:
- Position the 4 X 6 X 8 lumber so that the 6″ segment was vertical (perpendicular to the ground).
- Center each 2′ decking board perpendicular to the 4 X 6 X 8 beam starting 1′ in from the end of the beam.
- 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.
- 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…
- Screw the composite decking (#3) to the top of the beam using the 2 1/2″ decking screws (#4).
- The decking has one rough and one smooth side. We chose to put the rougher side up for traction.
- If you cut the decking right it should overhang the beam by about 1/2″ on either end.
- The decking will also overhang the beam by about the same amount on each side of the beam.
- 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.
- I placed screws starting at the end of the decking at approximately 10″ intervals alternately between 2 screws and on central screw.
- Sand of any burrs that are left over from the drilling/screwing process.
- You might also fill the holes with some silicon caulk while you are at it…