What I would do differently the second time around.
This is an update of my article on How to Make a Strongman Log originally published on my old blog, which can now be found here: http://rjkayser.com/blog/2012/11/26/how-to-make-a-strongman-log
Refer to that article for more specific details on building a strongman log.
One of the beautiful things about wooden strongman logs is that each one has its own character. Every homemade strongman log is a little bit different and it’s good to embrace that fact and have fun with training. However, if you’re training strongman events in order to be competitive you need to pay a little more attention to the detail that goes into your homemade wooden log.
I made my wooden strongman log back in November of 2012. It has held up incredibly well since then. Check it out.
Although I am very happy with the way my log turned out and it has had great carryover to the feel of many logs found in competition, there are a few things I would do differently the second time around, mainly for functionality and somewhat for longevity. Read on.
Staple the ends of the rope coil
Using the Weldbond glue to hold the rope coil that goes around the ends of the log in place works great for the most part, however the ends of the rope have started to come off over time. I would suggest still using the glue along the entire rope coil, but using a staple gun to staple the ends on (probably the last 6-12" of rope on each end) so that they stay better.
2" diameter pipe for plate-loading ends
The 1 inch pipe works great, but only if you have weights with 1 inch diameter holes. These are usually easy to find at department stores, sports stores, and used online.
For overall economy and versatility in your gym, you probably only want one set of weight plates, so I would suggest using 2” diameter pipe for the ends, if you can find it. That way you can load standard olympic plates on your log.
N.B. Before you go and buy a whole bunch of pipe for the ends of your log, take a light weight plate (2.5 or 5 lb.) with you to the hardware store to be sure that it will fit tight, but slide on and off similar to a standard barbell.
You can also use the 2” pipe for the handles, or something in between if you want a thicker handle on your log. The 1 inch pipe does still work great for the handles and you can always add Fat Gripz or something similar to the handles to adjust the thickness.
Bolt on The plate loading ends
One of the biggest downfalls of my strongman log is that over time the 1 inch pipe on the ends of the log for adding weight have come loose and shifted. I remedy this by hammering the pipe in with a sledge hammer prior to training or between sets. However, as you can imagine, this is a bit of a nuisance and it would be better if the pipe would stay put. Glueing the ends in the log did not last forever, as the force of the weight on the pipe over time has compressed the wood and expanded the holes the pipes fit in that I drilled in the log. Even if you choose to upgrade and go with the 2" pipe for loading standard size plates, you can still drill the pipe 6" into the log and use this same method, but I think there's an even better way that costs a little bit more...
Welding the plate-loading pipes tosteel plates and bolting it on the ends of the log is likely a better method for making your log last longer.
If you are able to weld, or know someone who can weld for you, I would suggest that you get a 1/4 inch steel plate at least 6” x 6” square per side and weld it to your 2” pipe*. Then use four bolts per side (at least 2 inches long) and bolt your plate-loading ends into the ends of the log.
* Note that you will require less length of pipe than I originally recommended since you are not needing the extra length to go into the log.
Larger hand holes
This was primarily a result of breaking the chainsaw I was using while making the log and having to chisel out the rest of the wood from the hand holes.
Make sure you carve out enough past the centre of the log where the handles pass through that you can comfortably reach past the handles and adjust your hands during the lift if needed. This is also important to save you from injury so your hands don’t get stuck if you have to bail on the lift.
Also carve out enough of the surface that you wrists won’t be rubbing against the log at any point during the clean or racking of the log. This isn’t the end of the world, but it will improve the overall build quality of your log. You can also easily remedy this by using some long wrist wraps or sleeves over your forearms. Or you can just get used to it.
My handles were pretty well perpendicular to the log, but one was just a little off. I would make sure you mark the distance from the ends on both sides of the log where you want the handles to go before you drill the guide holes. Also use a right angle to ensure the handles are perpendicular to the log and then make sure the handles will be parallel before you insert them. This also goes hand-in-hand (pun intended) with the last point on making sure the hand holes are large enough so that if you have to make slight adjustments you can do so without impeding your grip.
What I did well with building My log
The overall build turned out great. I was fortunate enough to have access to a telephone pole, which made it very easy to make a nice, round wooden log. I've seen squared-off logs made with blocks of wood and they just aren't as practical for strongman training.
good that the handles are pretty well centred
I’ve also seen logs that were well built, except that the handles were not aligned with the centre of rotation of the log. This will dramatically increase the required torque to rotate the log into the rack position and makes the press much more imbalanced as well.
The process of ensuring that your handles are centred includes first making sure your hand holes are carved out deep enough and then measuring the diameter of the log to make sure the handles will pass through the centre of the log.
*Nerd Alert* You can also ensure that you measured this correctly by taking the circumference of the log at the point of your handles and dividing it by two, which is also equal to (πd)/2.
I've even seen logs that weren't balanced with the centre of gravity. I believe that my log might have a slight difference in diameter between ends, but I made sure to have a pretty good section of the telephone pole before I started, so the weight difference between ends is pretty negligible. Obviously if the handles aren't balanced with the centre of mass, it either requires are harder lift, or a counterweight to balance.
That's about all I can think of for how I would make my strongman log differently knowing what I know now after having it hold up for 3.5 years. Leave a comment below if you like these DIY strongman equipment articles and want to see more of them. Also, please be sure to share this with any of your friends who are interested in making their own strongman equipment. And one more thing, if you like my material, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter. I send out a weekly update on what I've been working on, as well as some other helpful tips and just for signing up you'll receive an exclusive free eBook on how to optimize your performance the week leading up to a strongman competition!