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Adventures in DIY: Super Simple Garage Climbing Wall

November 19, 2013

Adventures in DIY: Super Simple Garage Climbing Wall

Topping out.
Topping out.

First, go into EMS and impulse buy a bag with seven rock holds because you’ve gotten really into climbing and don’t have a gym to practice near your house, and know that your skills are lacking. Then, stare at the bag, and wonder, what the hell do I do with this?

But really. So, I’ve been more into climbing lately, as a way of getting some strength and core work in without the work, and because it’s super fun whether it’s solo or with a group of friends. The climbing gym is fun, but where I live (when I am home), there isn’t a nearby one, and I’d like to practice regularly.

Specifically, I’d like to practice super basic skills: crimping, hanging on to rocks for long periods of time, building hand strength, practicing dynamic movements, working on leg flexibility and using my legs more often. I also wanted to be able to do “pull ups,” both narrow and wide armed, on two of the holds. This is stuff that it’s great to practice in a gym but honestly, embarrasses me a bit sometimes, especially when surrounded by kick-ass climbers. Hence, the desire to build a practice wall.

For you ’crossers: It’s similar to building barriers for the backyard: it won’t be exactly like a race-day simulation, but you can get the motions down so they’re more intuitive. And you’re spared the humiliation of tripping in public (or tripping as much in public).

Anyway, once I decided to make a really basic practice wall, it turns out it’s pretty simple. There are a ton of online tutorials for more complex ones but if it’s basic you’re going for, all you need are:

  • Climbing holds (make sure the ones you get come with hardware)
  • A wall with exposed studs (think garage wall)
  • A big sheet of plywood
  • Some hefty screws
  • Cordless drill with Phillips Head and 7/16″ Wood Boring Bit
  • Extra T-Nuts
  • Hex keys (to screw in holds)
  • Hammer
  • Person — this is a project you want backup on!
  • Foam padding (I admit, mine is just padding from lawn furniture we already had in the garage!)

From there, it’s a pretty simple process if you’re fairly handy (and thankfully, both Dad and I are!).


  1. Decide where the board will go on the wall
  2. Using a marker, decide where you want the holds to go (and if you have extra T-nuts, where you may want to move holds to in the future, since you only get one shot at putting those holes in. The more holes, the more ways you can change up the wall) — just make sure the holes won’t be in line with the studs!
  3. Using the Wood Boring Bit, drill through all of the marks you just made
  4. Using a hammer, pound the T-Nuts into the holes on the back of the plywood
  5. Mount the plywood, using the studs to secure it to the wall. Make sure you use enough!!
  6. Screw in your climbing holds with your hex keys, making sure they’re tight
  7. Chalk up and start climbing!


Mine only has 8 holds so it’s definitely not a “climbing wall” in a  normal sense — there certainly aren’t routes I can follow! But it has them in positions that work my climbing weaknesses perfectly, and that’s what I wanted it for, so mission is definitely accomplished!

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