DIY Adjustable & Portable Rock Climbing Wall

I love rock climbing. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not good at it, but I love trying. We have a few climbing gyms in the area, but every single one of them is far enough away that driving there became a hassle very quickly. N wanted a rock wall at home. We didn’t (and still don’t) have the money to buy one of the many wonderful fancy free standing rock walls we found on the internet, so we built our own. We’ve had ours for a few months now, and couldn’t be happier! To avoid, the many difficulties we had, I want to share how to build an adjustable, free standing woody.


1 8’x4’x3/4″ plywood.
4-6 2in x 4in x 8ft framing lumber 
6 3/4in hex nuts
6 3/4in approx. 6 inch hex bolts (No link, there’s an entire aisle dedicated to bolts, pick up 6 of them that are 3/4in thick, and long enough to go through 2 2x4s)
2 3/4inch washers**
Paint (we chose something similar to this, you will not need that much paint) & painting accessories.
Holds & accessories: You can buy these online or from your local climbing gym if they have any available.
Building accessories: hammer, drill, nails, sand paper, etc.

Step One: Shopping
Buy all of the supplies. We made multiple trips to the store because we forgot an item, or suddenly realized we needed something. Do not skip this step. You know how you tell yourself not to forget anything on your way out the door in the morning… yea, it’s like that. Let’s not realize halfway to work we forgot our office keys. Bad for you, bad for everyone.

Step Two: Set Up
Make sure you have a great outdoor space to work in. We had a driveway big enough to park the car (and use as a stand) and still work. We also had a work table provided by our landlord. I would suggest getting one of those as well, the table not the landlord. We needed a pretty large space, the plywood and 2x4s take up more room than you think.

Step Three: Plywood & 2×4 Painting
Start by sanding the plywood’s edges. It seems crazy, but your fingers will thank you. Next, shake the paint and put a thick coat on the side of the wood you will use at the climbing wall. No need to waste paint. We chose a color that reminded us of the boulders from Joshua Tree, but by all means, make a purple one if you want. The paint will splatter, there is sand in it. Don’t worry, it doesn’t really stain, and flakes off your skin/clothes once it dries. One thick coat, and let dry. We managed to have a particularly warm day, it took no more than 30 minutes before the paint was dry. During that time we started on the 2x4s. Sand, then paint the 4 beams. We didn’t paint all the sides, but you can.Once the first coat is dry, paint another layer. You want this paint pretty thick, you will scrape a lot of it off as you climb. Set to the side to dry. One more coat just because, and you are ready to move on.

Step four: Drilling & Preparing
This is the tedious part. Drill 2, 3/4in holes on each 2×4 beam approximately 1.5inches from the top, and directly in the middle of the beam. We chose to start assembling part of the wall at this point. Nail & glue the two 2×4 beans to the plywood board. To be safe, nail good long nails into the wood, about 2 inches apart. Follow up the nailing with gorilla glue between the cracks… just for safety. After the nails are hammered and the glue has dried, place the board on the ground, with the plywood painted face, facing up. Drill the 3/4 inch holes. We chose a pretty standard pattern for drilling, but everyone can pick their own. After holes are drilled, move on to hammering in the fasteners into the newly drilled holes. (many hold kits come with these, if not, pick some up). Take two of the 2x4s off to the side, and drill matching holes in each. These will act as the angle adjustment, and will be place on the bottom.

Step 5: Assembly***
Pretty simple, stand up the plywood and 2×4 combo, and use the bolts and and hex nuts to attach the two 2x4s with the angle adjustment holes to the bottom of the wall. Do the same with the other two 2x4s for the top. Pick one of the angles, and place bolts through both 2x4s. Pick a hold pattern, and bolt holds to the wall.

Step 6 

This may seem obvious, but buy all the materials. You will need them.

*I should note, that although the links provided are to Home Depot, I don’t work there, nor did they sponsor my building. However, we did buy all of our supplies there, because… convenience.
**We only used 2, because we wanted to take it down when guests come to visit. After all, we live in a tiny apartment in the bay area, not a house with a yard or garage.
*** Now you might wonder why I listed the 6 2×4. We chose not to use the extra two to secure the back of the wall for extra sturdiness, but we suggest that you do. The top of our wall sometimes bends just a bit when we are doing pull ups on the top hold.

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2 thoughts on “DIY Adjustable & Portable Rock Climbing Wall

    1. I’ll look to see if I have any other pictures. I’m willing to walk you through the process even without the pictures. I also still have the plans that I created to make the wall in the first place if you want to see them.

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