Pumping maple: for a gift of good health.
Novice woodworkers, here's a project for you--hardwood workout weights. They make great gifts, because you can build a pair of dumbbells or a barbell in a couple of hours, and they couldn't be much easier: cut a pair of blocks, drill a hole in each, fill them with the secret ingredient (lead shot), and glue them to a dowel.
Are hardwood weights heavy enough? With a pound or so of lead added to each, they can be effective muscle strengtheners when used in repetition. Or just try your regular jogging routine with one in each hand. The wood looks good at rest on a desk and feels good in action at the gym, where you and your friends can tone up with teak, press poplar, curl burl, or pump ironwood.
The maple for the dumbbells (above left) cost about $10; the cocobolo for the hand weights (left and above), $15; walnut for the barbell blocks, $11. Lumberyards that carry hardwoods often have the small pieces you'll need in their scrap bins. You'll also need hardwood doweling; we found 1 1/4-inch diameter a good size to grip (about $1.20 per foot).
For the added weight, lead shotgun shot works well (we used #9 shot), but it's sometimes hard to find in less than 25-pound bags ($14 to $19); check the yellow pages under Ammunition Reloading-- Equipment and Suppliers, and Guns and Gunsmiths. Or you can buy a few pounds from someone who reloads his own shells, or use lead wool from a plumbing supply shop (about $2.25 per pound).
Cutting the blocks
You start by cutting matching end blocks; the size and shape are not too important, but the longer the block, the deeper the weight cavity can be. Our maple blocks are 3 1/2-inch cubes; the cocobolo hand weights measure 1 1/2 by 2 1/4 by 2 3/4 inches; the barbell blocks are 7-inch squares of 2 3/4-inch-thick walnut.
For the hand weights, we also bevel-cut all the edges with a table saw blade set at 45|. The other blocks are just sanded to round the corners and edges slightly.
For the maple blocks, we cut 7 1/4-inch-long dowels; dowels for the hand weights are 6 1/4 inches; the barbell bar is 3 feet.
Drilling and filling
With a steady hand or a drill guide, you can make 1 1/4-inch-diameter holes with a power drill, but a drill press will give you a straighter, truer hole. We found that a 2 3/4-inch-deep, 1 1/4-inch-diameter hole allows for about 1/8 cup or 1/2 pound of shot and leaves room for gluing in a dowel.
We also added a little extra shot to the small hand weights by drilling 1/2- by 3-inch holes in the ends of the dowels. (Tape the shot into the dowel while assembling.)
Finishing the weights
Sand the blocks and dowels--the smoother the better. Fill the holes in the blocks with shot to within 3/4 inch of the top. Apply a liberal amount of glue around the tops of the holes, push the dowels firmly into place, and set on a flat surface until dry. We used 5-minute epoxy because it dries fast and holds well.
Finish the assembled weights with oil and paste wax or apply a clear finish like polyurethane. Have a healthy new year!
Photo: Typical cross-section shows basic assembly, with optional holes for shot in dowel ends
Photo: Drilling with 1 1/4-inch spade bit and 1/4-inch drill requires steady pressure. A drill press would be better
Photo: Filling the deep hole with lead shot adds weight; 1/8 cup equals 1/2 pound
Photo: Stealing time for an upper-arm workout is easy with these desk-top maple block dumbbells; each weighs 3 pounds
Photo: Hand weights of South American cocobolo (1 1/2 pounds each) get your heart beating faster sooner. Here they're being used in an aerobics class at Sunset's Fitness Center
Photo: Or pressing walnut? While heavy weight training is not recommended for young children, a few lifts with this 8 3/4-pound walnut barbell are a lot of fun
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|Date:||Dec 1, 1984|
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