How I made a tightrope trainer for my daughter
(that just fits in her college apartment!)
October 8, 2023 - Blog Index

  1. The result -- it works great!

A 5/8" steel cable is 3.5" above the 3.5" high (and 5.5" wide) beam, standing on 3" feet -- so the top of the cable is around 11" off the ground. Great for practice/training.

10.5 feet long beam (5.5" wide; 3.5" high) and uses a 5/8" steel wire rope cable

A nice radius around each end -- with metal straps for additional support

Channels cut in leg supports and platforms

UNDERSIDE: The steel rope is connected in a loop on the underside using a turnbuckle

Turnbuckle detail (underside) -- arrow is direction that tightens

The size/scale of hardware is deceptive (hard to 'see' in photos) -- the wood beam size is 5.5" wide

  2. The list of supplies

Major supplies:
4" x 6" x 12' wood beam
5/8" x 20' Galvanized wire rope with a 'thimble eye' on each end
5/8" x 9" turnbuckle -- but in hindsight I needed a turnbuckle with a slightly larger jaw opening
6" lag screws to attach two beam segments together on each beam end (makes the radius curve). I pre-drilled holes using 1/8" x 6" drill bit to prevent splits.
Flat mending plate bracket 5.5" x 2"
Minor supplies:
  • 3" screws (for attaching 2x4 lumber)
  • scrap 2x4 lumber to make two feet. One 2x4 needs a channel cut for the cable. Second 2x4 is stacked and wide enough to prevent beam from rotating while in use.
  • 1"x12"x6' for making two 10" (or whatever size you want) 'standing platforms'; and scrap 2x4 lumber to better support standing platforms (optional)
  • a scrap 2x2 board (18" or so long) to make an turnbuckle turning lever
  • two 1.25" straps to prevent the cable from rotating (when the turnbuckle is tightened)

  3. Tools used / Assembly

Tools: Circular saw, belt sander, cordless drill, chisel, hammer.

Assembly: 5.5" were cut off each end of the beam and re-attached to the beam (after beam was trimmed to final length) with a bunch of lag screws. A nice radius was cut into each end of the beam and mending plates added. The wire rope and turnbuckle were added. Then feet and platforms.

  4. Lessons learned

Lessons learned:
  1. I purchased a turnbuckle with slightly too small of a jaw opening (and because of timing constraints, fixed with an angle grinder). The 5/8" rope (plus the thickness of the thimble) needed a jaw opening of 1".
  2. The wire rope was very dirty and greasy and had to be cleaned (hot water, dawn, and a scrub brush)
  3. I had to 'shim' the legs slightly (used cardboard) to match the 'out of level' floor where installed

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