Build your own weights and barbell Build your own weights and barbell

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Thread: Build your own weights and barbell

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Pensacola area

    Default Build your own weights and barbell

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    In these trying times I developed a solution to the shortage of gym equipment available at a reasonable price…make my own.

    First and foremost, this is a sub-optimal solution and you assume any associated risk.

    I have created my own barbell and cast plates out of concrete for around $100 total. Below is a list of material and instructions for creation as well as photos of the process and finished products.
    Purchased at Lowes:

    1” black iron pipe 5’ in length
    2x 1” black iron pipe 18” in length
    2x 1” pipe connectors
    1 ¼” schedule 40 PVC
    1 sheet of OSB (inexpensive plywood)
    1 Bag of mortar
    4 80lb bags of high strength concrete (the stuff with fibers in it…about $7 a bag)
    Paste wax or paraffin wax

    Required tools:
    Table saw or circular saw
    Brad nailer or drill
    Trowel (stiff piece of plastic could suffice)
    Vice grips / channel locks

    Making the Bar:

    1” black iron pipe has an external diameter of approximately 1 ¼” consistent with most commercial barbells.

    To join the 18” sections of pipe to the 5’ section using the couplers, brush away any debris prior to joining and oil the threads. Use vice grips, a pipe vice or channel locks to ensure the pipe is screwed as tightly as reasonably possible to the connectors. Once fully assembled, cover one end tightly with duct tape.

    Find a suitable location with space for a ladder where the bar can be stood completely on end and be supported. I set up next to a tree and could lean the bar against it. Prepare the location with your funnel and push stick close at hand. Mix a portion of the mortar in accordance with instructions on the bag (you’ll need a little more than a quart total based on cubic inches of volume in the bar…don’t make the whole bag) and fill the bar.
    Mortar does not have aggregate in it and will more easily fill the bar. Straight cement is too brittle as it does not have sand in it. Concrete has aggregate in it and it will not be practical to fill such a narrow bar with it. The entire purpose here is make the bar more rigid and less likely to bend. Don’t overload the bar…use common sense.

    Allow the bar to set for at least three days to give the mortar time to cure. The lack of exposure to the air will increase the drying time.

    Making the plates:

    Regular Octagon - Geometry Calculator

    Octagon Volume

    The above links will assist with the math

    A standard plate is about 18” across so we will use the ‘medium diagonal’ of 18” to get a side length of a little less than 7 ½”. At 2 ½” in thickness we get a volume of about .382ft^3. .375ft^3 is about 50lbs.
    The actual weight at this point is less important that ensuring the symmetry of the plates…they weigh what they weigh.

    Using 3/8” OSB (Oriented Strand Board) cut a square that is 18 ¾” x 18 ¾”
    2x 18” x 2 ½”
    2x 18 ¾” x 2 ½”
    4x 7 ½” x 2 ½” Drop the bevel on your saw to 45° and adjust the fence to cut a bevel that does not shorten the overall length of the piece. You want a trapezoid that is 7 ½” on the long side.

    2” piece of the schedule 40 pipe

    Scribe lines from corner to corner on the square piece to determine the center point.

    Using paste wax or paraffin wax, put a thin coat on all the ‘inward’ facing surfaces to ensure the concrete releases from the mold

    Using a dot or two of super glue, tack the PVC to the board over the center point

    Assemble the box as you see fit using the tools you have available. The inside dimensions will be 18” across.

    Mix the concrete as per the instructions and fill the molds

    Using your trowel, juke the aggregate down into the concrete (water will come to surface as well) and float the concrete until the surface is smooth.
    Once the concrete is set, keep it wet. Concrete does not dry, it cures. Keep the weights wet for at least the first three days, seven ideally. See the link for more info

    Improve Compressive Strength of Concrete with These Curing Techniques

    let them sit in the molds for at least 24 hours before removal

    DO NOT paint or otherwise finish the concrete for at least 30 days to ensure they cure properly


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2019


    Brilliant work Mike!

    Stencil YORK on the side of those plates and after these Trying Times end you could list them on ebay as prehistoric equipment and the York collectors would pay enough to recoup your material and labor costs.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Pensacola area


    I'd rather just cast the plates and make bars for people that live in north west Florida. Anyone in the area need help or want me to make you a set, let me know. Just want people to stay strong...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    London, UK


    Mike, how much weight do you think this bar can hold?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013


    I grew up using a free outdoor "gym" with concrete weights. This guy is selling molds for making concrete plates:
    How to Make Concrete Weight Plates

    Think of the possibilities

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2018


    starting strength coach development program
    You could just drive to Hi-Temp in AL and pick up weights. There is a guy in Florida on IG that drives there every few weeks and delivers around Florida. $1.65/lb for bumpers.


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