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Under-hang

In order to turn a rock wall into a rock gym, there needs to be some traversals, preferably something ordinary architecture doesn't provide. This is where the under-hang comes in!

It just so happens our ordinary architecture does provide an excellent starting point for a little home-brew construction. Underneath the balcony, roughly thirteen feet long and 4 feet wide, was a nice space to work in some more than vertical holds.

Getting this project started was tough. Motivating Will to do work is a challenge of itself, but I too had to get enough of a plan in place to start the party. Will loves being fashionably late, so once I get the music going, he'll chime in. During a weekend in Houston I scratched some notes out on some random receipt laying about with a parts list, cut lengths, etc. Of course nothing occurred that same weekend and it wasn't until roughly two weeks later I was ready to make my move. The receipt was no where to be found. None the less I recalled what I felt we needed and we pressed on! Home Depot Gift Card in hand we bought wood and bolts galore!

The basic idea was to get a solid frame in place. We put six inch lag screws through treated 4x4's into the studs of the balcony. Then we used roughly one foot long pieces of 4x4 that we angled on one end and bolted to the wall with 3/8in bolts that screwed through the 4x4s into concrete drop-ins set into the wall. We connected the the balcony 4x4 with the wall anchored 4x4 with treated 2x4s. With the four inch side set against the upper 4x4, we inset a six inch lag screw through the 2x4 at an angle into the 4x4. At the lower 4x4, the 2x4 was attached again with a six inch lag screw but this time it was completely vertical. Remember to pre-drill holes for all lag screws. Repeat those steps a couple of times, changing an angle here and there and then cut 3/4in treated plywood to fit the frames. Screw that on with a liberal application of weather-proof deck screws. Viola!

Now comes the magic. So we've got a solid structure, but it is a) an eye sore and b) a pretty slick surface. In order to add some much needed texture, we though, why don't we glue sand on the wall. The internet rock wall constructors said sand was Ok, not great, just Ok. The problems they encountered with the use of sand is how to stick it to the wall and it not simply turn the board into sandpaper that crumbles off and ruins your shoes. So Will asks an artist cousin of his what he would recommend using in a paint mixture to hold sand on a wall. He recommended PVA. Will knew where to get the sand, but what kind? I told him to get the finest sand he has, that just happens to be #5 Sugar Sand (70 Mesh) according to Specialty Sand. Armed with out sand, PVA, and some grey paint for style. We set to mixin'. The result was utterly miraculous. The sand is find enough to be held by the PVA/paint mixture but provides ample texture for gripping. We put on about three coats and let it cure for thirty days. We could not have hoped for better results.

You might notice in the picture there is a small door on the large section of the under-hang. This allows us to not have to pre-drill and set a bunch of t-nuts. Whenever we want to set a a new hold, we simply drill the hole from the outside, climb in and set the t-nut. Also good for when the t-nuts go bad and you need to put a patch board in.