Crack Machine

A few weeks ago I was desperate to climb outside, but didn’t plan for it and needed to spend most of my day taking care of things around town. It was gorgeous out, and I was unwilling to head to the gym. I’m trying to focus on training like I hope to climb, and had had one idea kicking around for a while.

Trad climbing almost always entails some form of crack climbing, and I am not terribly good at either.  The rock gym is relatively useless for training towards crack climbing, so I took a lead from one of my favorite climbers and built a little tool for the specific exercise of  learning to cram my fingers into rock fissures.  Welcome to the crack machine:


(2) 2×8’s, sanded smooth on one side and one edge.

Using carriage bolts and PVC pipe for spacers makes this set up adjustable.

Using carriage bolts and PVC pipe for spacers makes this set up adjustable.

I used 2x8s, carriage bolts, and pvc pipe as spacers to make the system adjustable- meaning I can work any size crack. The size of lumber matters quite a bit- I would have like to use 2×10 or 2×12 so that I can practice armbarring and chickenwinging but they would have been too heavy to lift.

Clearance holes required.

Clearance holes required.

One big note on the building side- the holes in the board on the left, above, need to be ~1/8″ to 1/4″ larger than the holes on the right.  Carriage bolts don’t tend to sit perfectly straight, so you want some clearance to get things to fit together nicely.  Using carriage bolts and nuts allows you to crank the boards apart to any width crack- mine is currently set to “rattly fingers” or “BD 0.75.”  You don’t actually need the PVC spacers, I just thought they would add some rigidity which really wasn’t necessary with six carriage bolts in 8′

Ready to hurt?

Ready to hurt?

For the record- these guys crush it, and they trained almost exclusively in a basement. Look forward to updates on how training is going.

2 thoughts on “Crack Machine

  1. Arjun Dongre

    How are you getting this beast “vertical”? Thanks for the beta. I am going to make one – just wondering how to get it off the ground to actually train on. Thanks!


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