November 26, 2017 at 1:10 am #1786
I’ve long subscribed to the notion that if you could declare that toothpicks were lifting equipment, someone would figure out a way to charge double the price for them. In my odd, winding path to the strongman sport, I’ve largely shunned buying any kind of lifting equipment. so it only seemed natural that when my friend Matt asked for his log back, I’d opt to build my own rather than buy one from a company.
There are some practical considerations to building strongman equipment (or, in my case, hiring someone to build something that I designed and partially cut out) that revolve mostly around cost savings. Two things can combine (even in the world of, “HEY EVERYONE I BOUGHT A TITAN LOG FOR…BLAH BLAH BLAH) to save some serious money on implements: shipping and buying the raw materials. Shipping is the most obvious. It’s not unusual to spend in excess of $100 on that. The metal needed to give birth to a new implement is often special-order stuff that loses A LOT of value once it leaves the salespeople’s possession. A simple search of Craigslist, done faithfully, can find things like 12″ pipe or tube for 1/4 the price you or a fabricator could buy it new.
Of course I flushed away any notion of frugality because I wanted something that looked cool and different. I managed to pick up a 46″ piece of 3/16″ wall 12″ diameter pipe for a bit less than $50 (Including the cut. Yes, they do charge for cutting). Not content to leave well enough alone, I scrounged some 16″ diameter pieces of pipe, 5/16” wall for free. The plan was to give this log a bit of a “Slater’s Hardware, ” look.
Had I known my log would spur as much interest as it did on Facebook, I’d have saved the drawing I made. Still, I made one that detailed overall lengths, widths, handle and handle-hole placements, what pieces would be used and where they’d go on the log. There isn’t such thing as too much detail for such projects. I also used this to drawing to calculate the estimated weight of the log. Honestly, that was a pain in the ass. It took some effort to get it down to 175-ish pounds.
So, having a clear-cut plan and drawing for a welder is important. One thing that I was cognizant of was that whoever would fabricate it was NOT a designer. Welders are the guys that build. I have to come up with how to make this thing solid and capable of laughing off being dropped. One thing I was insistent on was that the welds would only hold the metal together. They would never take the direct shock of a fall. So, as many of the metal pieces would have to fit inside one another as possible.
This isn’t a cheap or quick way to build a piece of equipment. Cutting metal eats up a lot of time and costs money. Still, the finished product is stronger and straighter. Always. While I’ll happily scrounge metal from anywhere I can find it to save some money, I think it’s foolish to go cheap on cutting metal.
The most expensive item on this build, aside from the welding, was the four round, 3/16″ plates I had machine cut to hold the log together. Each end had a plate to go inside the 12″ pipe and another to go inside the 16″ pipe. a piece of 1.5″ sch 40 pipe passes through a hole cut in the middle of each plate for the weight plates. The only spot where the welds take direct (but partial) impact from a possible drop is where the 12″ pipe is welded to the 16″ plate. If you’re reading this with any intention of building your own log, this is one step I would NEVER compromise on.
I realized that this log, without welds, was still going to be a bit heavier than I wanted. I was hoping to get it under 170 lbs. So, I opted to do some cut-outs in spots where I knew my body parts would not be endangered by cleaning, pressing, or failing to do some combination of the two. This was not as easy as it seems. Aside from imagining where my lovely body parts would be on this thing, I also had to think about how cutting this would compromise structural integrity. Then, I had to make sure that the cuts were in precise spots so as not to make this thing an unwieldy, unpressable mess. This took well over an hour to do.
Once that was all figured out, and after I finally managed to get some money to build this, I brought it to my favorite welder. One thing that I made very clear was that everything had to be STRAIGHT and SOLID. I explained that it would be dropped from overhead a lot so I wanted welds all the way around the circumference of everything.
Frankly, I love this guy’s work and he didn’t fail to impress me yet again, even if the log came in at 173 lbs. It is beautifully balanced and presses like a dream. Unfortunately, I didn’t press it as soon as I got it. In an effort to save money, I opted to grind and smooth off the sharp edges, slag, etc from the fabrication. This is ridiculously important. If you can feel a anything resembling a sharp edge as you pass your hands across it, it will cut you to shreds when it’s loaded up. This might sound stupid but I gauged how good my grinding work was on the edges by pushing my thumb down onto all of the surfaces and sliding it across.
Overall, I have roughly $300 total into this build (my welder did some other small items for me too at the same time). While this build was more fancy than it needed to be and cost me more, I’m positive I’d have paid far more if I’d had some other outfit build it for me. Eventually, I’d like to add some caps onto the end of the flared out portion so I don’t have to rely on clamps alone to hold weight plates in place. For now, I’ll manage.
November 26, 2017 at 1:25 am #1787
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