I have been boxing at a local gym (Broome County Martial Arts, check it out!) for a few years now. I had mentioned I like woodworking to the boxing coach one day and he asked me if I could make a rack to hold all of the medicine balls the gym has. Currently they occupy a corner of the mats and it would be good to get it a little more organized. I thought this would be a fun little challenge so I happily agreed.
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I first identified where in the gym the coaches would want the rack to be located. This helped me to identify the physical constraints I was working with. I had about a 4.5 foot wide area to work with. I decided to make a three level rack that was 4 feet wide and about 4 feet tall. I hadn't decided on the width at the time but it ended up being around 9 inches deep.
A spare 2" x 6" x 10' I had lying around.
An 8' 4" x 6" pine beam I got for free off of craigslist.
6 foot long 1" diameter oak dowel
Round Over Bit (Whiteside is a great brand for router bits)
Forstner Bit (1" Diameter)
Wood Glue (I used titebond III)
Orbital Sander w/ Sandpaper
Step 1: The Horizontal Rails
I was kind of making up this project as I went along. The first thing I decided to do was cut the horizontal rails. I needed 6, 2 for each level.
- First cut the 10 foot beam down into more manageable sections on the chop saw. I cut mine to 4 foot sections.
- If you want to clean up the edges on a jointer, more power to you. Otherwise, you can trim the sides with your table saw. I choose to do both. I did one pass through the jointer to take of a 16th and get a nice edge to work with. Then I ran them down the table saw and trimmed the 2" x 6" down until it was just a hair over 4" across.
- Now rip these sections down the middle. If you have done it right and taken the table saw kerf into account, you should have two pieces that are each 2" across.
- I didn't touch the other dimension of the pieces as I wanted these to be as solid as possible. This left me with 6 sticks that were each 2" x 1.5" x 48".
- This is optional but I choose to take my router and a 1/2" round over bit and take off one edge. This will eventually be the part of the rail making contact with the medicine ball.
Step 2: The Vertical Legs
I decided to use the big pine 4" x 6" to make the vertical legs.
- First, I cut the 8 foot beam down so I had a 4.5' section.
- Now, take the beam and rip it in half on your table saw. Luckily I have a giant old table saw that can take a 14" blade, this made ripping the beam down pretty easy. I choose to rip it across the shorter side. This left me with two pieces each ~2" x 6".
I decided the best way to mount the horizontal rails was to cut recesses or pockets into the vertical legs for them to sit into. I could glue these into place as well as put a screw in them to keep things strong.
Mark out the spacing you want between the different rack levels on the pieces you just cut. This is kind of up to you depending upon how big of medicine balls you are working with and your dimensions.
With the spacing marked, go and mark out on the short sides the exact locations you want to put the horizontal rails. Now you need to cut out the material from the vertical leg to create the pocket. You can do this using a table saw and cross cut fence or just using a hand saw and chisels. I choose to use the table saw just because it was faster and I didn't want to make a particular emphasis of this piece being crafted with hand tools.
Cut these pockets out of both sides (see the picture if this is confusing).
Now for the fun twist. To get the medicine ball to sit securely on the rail, there needs to be some minimum distance between them. I had originally planned to just put the rails into each side of the vertical legs and calling it done. However, I started having nightmares about the rack not being stable. Therefore, I decided to split the two pieces I had just made and space them apart using dowels.
Pretty straightforward, just set your fence accordingly and rip the two vertical legs in half, right down the middle.
We are 90% of the way there.
Last thing to do is drill hols for the dowels. I choose to put 4 in each side, splitting the gaps between each of the horizontal rails. You can do this with the appropriate size drill bit and a hand drill or drill press.
Step 3: Finishing
I say to do the finishing now, before assembly, because it will be far easier to sand and stain everything while it is in pieces.
The bare pine is kind of boring, in my opinion, so I stained the vertical rails a dark ebony and the horizontal rails a red elm. The oak dowels I didn't stain.
By the way, cut the dowels down to the appropriate length to get your rack to have the desired width. In my case I cut them at 6 inches. 1/2 inch on each side would be pressed into the holes that we drilled. That would make my interior gap approximately 5 inches.
To recap, sand -> stain
Once everything cures/sets you can go for final assembly.
Step 4: Final Assembly
Time to put this things together and go get a workout in.
First you need to assemble the horizontal rails onto the vertical legs. First put a little glue inside the pockets, then press the horizontal rails in. Hopefully you measured carefully and have a nice tight fit. Once the rails were in, I choose to drive a screw in as well, just for added security.
Now put a little glue inside the dowel holes in the vertical rails. Get the dowels aligned and use hand clamps to slowly press everything together. Clean up any glue that was running and then let it set.
Come back the next day and do any touch up/clean up that you feel is necessary.
And you're in business! Time to hit the gym and get in shape!!
NOTE: I ended up making small 2.5" wide, 12" long feet that I screwed into the bottom of the legs just to ensure this thing wouldn't tip.