Homemade wooden climbing holds

You can easily spend $100 on 5 climbing holds, so Ren Kauffunger asked his dad to show him how to make wooden climbing holds.

By Ren Kauffunger

I’ve been rock climbing indoors for a couple years now, and I wanted to make a climbing wall at home. You can easily spend $100 on five climbing holds, so I asked my dad to show me how to make wooden climbing holds. He had never made them, but he’s a good woodworker. We figured it out together.

Wooden climbing holds take a long time to make, but if done right they can be just as good as store-bought holds. Another plus side is you can climb on them for longer than store-bought holds because they don’t feel as rough on your skin, so your fingers don’t get ripped up.

Looking for more kid-friendly
woodworking projects?

Wooden holds can be either solid wood or stacked plywood. I’ve made both. We started by drawing out a plan, sketching out the stages of the process and listing the order of operations. Once you have a plan, get your rough shape either by cutting the shape out of solid wood or gluing plywood together.


Shape it up

After getting some good sized pieces of strong plywood, I cut them to shape on the bandsaw (with some help from my dad) and stacked them so it was almost like a topographical map. Then we glued and clamped them together so they would stick tightly and waited for them to dry. Using a right angle grinder with a 60-grit flap disk, we ground them to shape. I also did this with a chunk of solid cherry from the wood pile.

Using a sanding block, sand the piece until it’s very smooth.

The infrastructure


After framing the wall out, my dad and I drilled holes in 3/4-in. plywood. I used a stop block with a hand drill to keep the drill at 90° and prevent blowing through the table below.

00020011 e1585667750144

Then we installed the T-nuts, and put it all together.


Climb on! Woodworking and climbing are both fantastic pastimes. You should try both!

-Ren Kauffunger, big brother to Stella, is a 6th-grade rock climbing woodworker who lives in Maine.

Vietnam Film Faced Plywood