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How to build a Budget Circus Dumbbell

Article by Connor Robinson

NOTE From Starting Strongman do this at your own risk!! Make SURE all the propane is gone before cutting or welding on the tanks!! If this project seems outside your mechanical ability take this article to someone who can do it. These dumbbells will eventually break but the whole project should be able to be done for under $50 dollars and is a good start. Below you can see Kalle Beck press a dumbbell made the same way loaded to 150lbs for 9 reps.

Step one – Acquire two propane tanks, whether it be from friends, neighbors grill, side of the road, brand new, etc. If they have been filled with or still contain some gas, you will want to do your best at getting all of the gas out. I used water and soap. Rinsed them out several times. And on the last time I let it soak for about a couple of days. I also blew air in them for the majority of time when we were welding and grinding. Also you will need a 8″x2″ Black Pipe (Do NOT use galvanized as the author did)  Lowes and Home Depot didn’t have many more options. And 2 3/4 threaded plugs for your filler holes

Step two – Opening the valve to release any left over gas (if previously filled) and removing the entire valve. They sell a tool that makes this easier called the Universal Propane Wrench. I on the other hand used a sledgehammer to break the seal. Don’t know if it was the best option but it got the job done.




Step three – Grind and prep your area/pieces

One on the left is what it started as. 8″ steel nipple. We cut if down to a 5″ piece and also grinded it at both ends to where we could get more of the weld in between the handle and tank.

Step four – Weld the handle. Try and do your best finding the center. We used the old layout of the bottom handle to help. But we really eyeballed it the best we could.

NOTE: Do not use galvanized pipe as shown use black steel pipe. 

Step five – We sanded it down the best we could. Sprayed it with a satin black

Update from Mike Landrich to make a stronger DB You don’t need to reinforce the handles on the inside, but you do need to spread out that stress. A large washer, or any round piece of steel, welded to the handle, spreads the stress out over a much larger radius. This pic shows what I mean. I made a 202# DB using this method. Its been beat and is still intact.


I was lucky enough to have a step dad that is an auto body repair man. But hopefully with this write up I made it a little easier for the average DIY’er




  1. nick permalink

    How much does the empty bell end up weighing? Thanks…

  2. Derek permalink

    Hey I’m looking for three monster dumbbells
    Sizes 30kg 45kg 60kg.
    I’m no welder so i was wondering if you could point me in the right direction ro get rhem made.
    I’m located in australia

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