By Dan Beard
How to Make a "Gym: in an Attic, A Boy's Den, Club-Room, or Fort.
An old-fashioned attic is an ideal place to fit up a A gymnasium in one's own house, and a "gym," as the lads are wont to call it, is just the place for boys to "have fun" when the weather compels them to stay indoors.
The Parallel Bars
give an opportunity for a free vent for the restless energy which all wholesome boys possess and which they must work off in some way; but no self-respecting American Boy Pioneer or Son of Daniel Boone will stoop to purchase horizontal bars at a shop when he has the time and knows how to build a pair himself.
The dimensions of the parallel bars depend to a great extent upon the space one has at one's disposal, and the best way for a boy to judge the proper distance to set the bars apart is by experimenting with a couple of chairs set back to back, and adjusting the space between them to meet the requirements of the size and reach of the young gymnast.
Remember that the principal act is to support your body above the bars with your two arms, while your legs dangle below the bars, but not touching the floor.
This cannot be done with bars too far apart. The bars must be close enough together to make it a simple task to straighten your arms and lift your body and feet.
After you have, by experiment, found the right space between the bars, make a note of it, and then measure your own length with arms out-stretched. Twice this distance makes a good length of bars between the upright supports.
By referring to Fig. 349 you will see that unless the ceiling is about as high above the bars as your length, including your arms, there will be constant danger of striking your heels overhead. By the same illustration you can see that the bars themselves must be high enough above the floor to allow a full swing of the body and legs below the bars with no danger of striking the feet.
For base-boards to the uprights F and G you will need two A boards (Figs. 350 and 351).
Fig. 351 shows about the proportional length of the 4 boards. To be on the safe side, make them a little longer than you think necessary. Use one-inch or one-and-one-half inch plank; mark the distance required between the bars on the middle of the A boards.
Make four F boards the length necessary for the height of the bars, and four G boards shorter by the width of the horizontal bars than the F boards (Figs. 349, 350, and 351). F and G should be each one and one-half inches thick by six inches wide.
Make four E blocks, each two and one-half feet long, four inches thick., by six inches wide. If you have no material of this thickness, make the E blocks by fastening two pieces of two-inch plank securely together. Use screws for this purpose, screwing them in from both sides.
With some good, long wire nails or screws fasten the F boards to the E blocks, and then join the F and G boards together by screws from G into F and from F into G. Put in screws enough to join F, G, and E so securely that there will be no danger of them pulling apart, but do not put in enough screws to weaken the parts and render them liable to split.
If this work has been done properly, you now have four uprights strong enough to support the heaviest man in your families, and that is as it should be, for there is no pleasure in using apparatus which is liable to go to pieces.
Next nail your D board (Figs. 349 and 351) to the centers of the two A boards, turn them over, and nail the H boards (Figs. 349 and 351) to the D board, fitting snugly between the two A boards.
Turn the boards over again and toe-nail your six upright supports (the E F G's) midway on the A boards and fitting snugly against the D board.
To brace the uprights you may run diagonal pieces from the top of E at each upright to the end of A, or you may make of one-half-inch plank four C boards, four B boards, and a J board to fit on each, as it does in the diagram B J (Fig. 350).
The plan (Fig. 350) shows the boards all in place with the exception of the J boards, which belong with the C boards; these are left out in the plan to show a part of the B boards under the C boards.
Nail or screw all these pieces neatly in place, and you are ready to fasten your two horizontal bars of straight-grained pine to the F boards (Figs. 349, 350, and 351) with good screws.
With what tools you have for the purpose, round the upper edges to the horizontal bars and sand-paper them until they are perfectly smooth; then try your machine and you will find that it will require considerable practice before you are able to do any graceful swings. But, with perseverance, you will be able to do the most surprising acts with a freedom and grace which will win you applause and health.
It is safe to say that there is scarcely a machine in a well-equipped gymnasium which an ordinary American boy could not build.
In Fig. 352, A shows a simply made punching-bag platform D D are the rafters of the attic ceiling; B B and C C are braces, screwed tightly together and to the rafters above; E is a horizontal brace; and B B E form the frame to which the platform A is nailed or screwed.
A hole in the centre of the platform allows the thong, supporting the bag, to run through; the end of the thong is then made fast to C. Hitting the punching-bag is fast and furious exercise and good training for any one.
Fig. 353 gives all the simple details of a
The bar, as may be seen (A, Fig. 353), has a thong or stout piece of cord running through a hole in its centre; a good-sized knot in the end of the cord prevents it from slipping through the bar when the weight is attached. Make the weight of any heavy object to which you can fasten a cast-iron pulley such as may be purchased at any hardware shop.
Screw another pulley to the top cross-bar shown in the diagram. Let the thong or cord run up through the pulley in the top cross-bar, then down through the pulley on the weight, then straight up to the top bar again, where the end is made fast to a hook or screw-eye, as shown in Fig. 353.
To work the machine, grasp the bar with both hands and lift the weight by winding up the cord with a twist of your wrists; if the weight is at all heavy it will test the power of your grip.
Fig. 354 shows a simple arrangement of pulleys and weight. K is a pulley purchased at the hardware shop and M and N are homemade weights. M is a canvas bag filled with scrap-iron; 0 is a wooden block to which the bag is tacked and on top of which the pulley K is screwed. N is a slat-box weight made to be loaded by filling it with stones, iron, or lead.
Overhead Arm Exercises
Fig. 355 shows an overhead pulley for arm exercise. R shows the details of the spreader and handles, Q, and P the locations on the rafters of the pulleys, and L the enlarged view of a pulley.
The weight for this can be made like M or N, and the cord attached directly to the weight by a screw-eye or some similar device as a fastener.
Fig. 356 is a chinning bar attached to overhead rafters. The construction of this is so simple that the diagram supplies all the description necessary.
Now that the reader is supplied with a "gym," all equipped, we will expect him to be a very strong fellow by next spring.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.