DIY: Balance Beams

Written by elizabeth martin
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DIY: Balance Beams
Balance beams are used in gymnastics competitions. (Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Whether a child is just beginning to walk or is able to run, a balance beam provides him with an entertaining physical challenge. Balance beams allow children to develop coordination and balance through outdoor play. They also help to improve the child's motor skills and visual perception. Though balance beams are not very expensive, you can bypass this cost altogether by making your own custom balance beam. With the help of a few tools that can be found around your garage or local hardware store, this project will take a relatively short amount of time to complete.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Box cutter
  • Hand saw
  • 15 Nails, 3/4-inch
  • Staple gun
  • Maple 4 by 4, 8 feet long
  • Two 2 by 4s, 8 feet long
  • Self-adhesive suede fabric
  • 1/4-inch thick closed cell polythene foam, 108 by 48

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Nail the 8 foot piece of maple 4 by 4 to an 8 foot 2 by 4 to create a single 8 foot beam that measures 3 1/2-inches by 5-inches.

  2. 2

    Measure the closed cell polythene foam to a 15-inch by 8-foot length. Use the maker to mark these point. Use the box cutter to cut the piece.

  3. 3

    Staple the 15-inch by 8-foot length piece of closed cell polythene foam to the beam. Start stapling on one bottom edge. As you staple, make sure that both edges along the top and opposite edges on the bottom are uniformly tight. Avoid stapling the top of the beam.

  4. 4

    Cut away any excess foam along the bottom with the box cutter.

  5. 5

    Apply the self-adhesive suede directly to the foam. Use the box cutter to trim away any excess suede where necessary. Make sure that the foam and suede combine to give the beam its regulation 4-inch width. Add more suede as necessary.

  6. 6

    Cut four 6-inch sections and two 1 1/2-foot sections from the other 2 by 4.

  7. 7

    Attach the two 1 1/2-foot sections of 2 by 4. Use the hammer and nails to join the two sections at their midpoints onto the bottom of each end of the beam. Make sure that they are positioned perpendicular to the length of the beam. Hammer at least three nails to each end.

  8. 8

    Attach the four 6-inch sections to the 1 1/2-foot 2 by 4 section to create supports. Lay two 6-inch sections of 2 by 4 on top of each 2 by 4 piece. Press the supports as tightly against the beam as possible to ensure there is no space left between them. Use four nails to secure the supports in place.

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