How to make uneven parallel bars

Written by michelle labbe
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How to make uneven parallel bars
Female gymansts compete and train on the uneven parallel bars. (beam image by Vladislav Gajic from Fotolia.com)

Uneven parallel bars, or uneven bars, are designed for female gymnasts. They consist of two horizontal bars resting on supports of different heights. They are vital for a gymnast's training regimen, but also provide an effective workout station for performing ab exercises, tricep dips, handstands and many other exercises to build strength and flexibility in the upper body. Parallel bars are simple to construct at home from PVC pipes. Construction is inexpensive and shouldn't take more than one afternoon of work.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 1 section wooden or fibreglass bar, 3 m (10 feet) long
  • 2 sections 3.8 cm (1.5-inch) PVC pipe, 1.4 m (4.6 feet) long
  • 2 sections 3.8 cm (1.5-inch) PVC pipe, 2.2 m (7.24 feet) long
  • 2 sections 3.8 cm (1.5-inch) PVC pipe, 1.5 m (4.9 feet) apart
  • 4 Elbows for 3.8 cm (1.5-inch) PVC pipe
  • 8 T-caps for 3.8 cm (1.5-inch) PVC pipe
  • 8 End caps for 3.8 cm (1.5-inch) PVC pipe
  • PVC glue
  • PVC primer
  • Electrical tape
  • Fine tooth hand saw
  • Tape measure
  • Wire brush or sandpaper
  • Pencil

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Mark the wooden or fibreglass bar using the measuring tape and pencil at 60, 120, 140, 160, 180, 200, 216, 228, 240, 250, 266, 289 and 292 cm (24, 48, 56, 64, 72, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 105, 110, and 115 inches) from one end of the pipe. Run electric tape around each mark so that the leading edge of the tape aligns with each mark. Cut the bar into sections along the marks using the hand saw. This should leave you with two 60 cm (24 inch), four 20 cm (8 inch) and eight 2 cm (5 inch) sections.

  2. 2

    Apply primer and glue to the elbow pieces and glue to the four 20 cm (8 inch) sections of the bar to form the legs the bars will stand on. Prime and glue these sections to the ends of the two 60 cm (24 inch) sections of the bar. These will be the tops of the uneven bars. Secure a T-cap onto the end of each one. This will allow you to install a parallel section of PVC pipe between each set of bars to set the correct distance between the bars.

  3. 3

    Prime and glue the 12.5 cm (5-inch) sections of the bar to the four remaining T-caps. Then prime and glue the end caps to each of the four T-caps.

  4. 4

    Take your 1.4 m (4.6 feet) and 2.2 m (7.24 feet) lengths of PVC pipe and glue each set of pipes to the top part of the uneven bars at the "legs" on the top structure, so that one set of bars is attached to the 4.6-feet sections of PVC pipe, and the other set of bars is attached to the 7.24-feet sections of PVC pipe.

  5. 5

    Prime and glue the two 1.4 m (4.6 feet) sections of PVC pipe to the T-caps at the ends of both top sets of bars. These sections will run parallel to each other and perpendicular to the tops of the bars. They will set the distance between the bars at 1.5 m (4.9 feet).

  6. 6

    Glue each T-cap structure to the sections of PVC pipe to form the base of the uneven bars. Sand the top tubes or wear them down with the wire brush to rough the edges so they will be able to hold chalk.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure your base is steady, and be careful when using the bars for the first time.
  • Follow measurements carefully. The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique sets specific guidelines for the construction and height of uneven parallel bars. The height of the top bar must be 2.41 m(7.9 feet) from the floor, and the height of the lower bar should be 1.61 m (5.3 feet) from the floor. The bars should be set 1.5 m (4.9 feet) apart.

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