It’s about time I posted a tutorial for something circus related, and since I haven’t been able to really do much of anything circusy (though my pancakes with rings have gone from non-existent to…existent) as of late I thought I would you know, build some circus equipment, because that’s definitely going to make me feel better.
These are not the fanciest canes you can build, but they will certainly do the job, and you can always fancy them up if you have a router and time to stain. Though, if you have a router and the wherewithal to do a lot of staining, chances are you probably don’t need this tutorial. But, if you do want to build some canes, this project is pretty quick–perfect for escaping your special family time over thanksgiving weekend. No mom. I can’t help you with your jello bundt cake because I have to counter sink my screws. Geeze.
So, without further ado, let’s get down to business so that we can protect China from the Huns, and stuff.
Materials you will need:
- 1 2×8 piece of wood
- 1 2×4 piece of wood
- 4 ½” floor flanges
- 2 ½” pipe nipples in some length to be determined by you*
- 8 ¼”x2 carriage bolts
- 8 ¼” nuts
- 8 ¼” washers
- 8 1” drywall screws
- 6 2 ½” drywall screws
Minimum required tools:
- A saw of some sort
- Various drill bits, including a countersink bit
- Sandpaper (mostly optional)
- Tape measure
*I used 18”, but you can use whatever makes you feel comfortable. Also, the actual canes will screw together so you can always start with one size and then switch them out later for another.
Step 1: Find your handstand
Before you go to Lowes and cut down any of the lumber you need to buy, I suggest you figure out how wide your handstand is because that’s going to dictate how big or small you need things cut. You don’t actually need to go into a handstand to do this—just put your hands on the floor (making sure they’re directly under your shoulders) and measure from the center of one hand to the other. For example, because I’m a tiny person my handstand is only 10.5 inches wide.
Step 2: Cut your lumber
I added 5 inches to either side of my handstand to figure out the length I needed my 2×8 to be cut to. You can certainly add more space on either side, especially if you have a wider handstand, but don’t add less than 5 inches because you need to leave room for the 2x4s which will go under your 2×8 to minimize forward and back rocking.
I cut my 2x4s I added 3 inches to either side of the width of the 2×8, for a total of 15 inches (well actually slightly less, but you get the point.) Again, you don’t really want to add less than 3 inches, but you can certainly add more.
Finally, you’ll need to cut blocks for your hands, I cut these to be a little longer than the length of my palm to the first knuckle of my little finger.
I used a radial arm saw to cut my wood, so I was able to set the saw at an angle and shave the top corners off the hand blocks for maximum niceness which I otherwise would have had to do with a lot of sanding or a plane.
- (2×8) 1 base – the width of your handstand + 10 inches (minimum)
- (2×4) 2 ‘feet’ – 8 inches + 6 inches (minimum)
- (2×4) 2 hand blocks – slightly more than the length of your palm to your first knuckles
If you’re like me and you feel like if you’re going to make something you should at least make it nice, you should follow this step.
When I went to Lowes they didn’t have any floor flanges in black iron, and they didn’t have silver pipe in the right length, so I got mismatching flanges and pipes, which I hate, and decided to fix it by spray painting one of them to match the other.
No matter what, I would suggest washing your pipes with soap and water because they’re usually sticky and covered in something gross. I actually managed to wash most of the black stuff off the black iron pipes, and then went outside and gave them a few passes with some silver spray paint I had lying around. It ended up looking a lot better than I thought it would.
Step 4: Sand stuff (kind of optional)
After all your wood is cut I would suggest at the very least sanding the hand block so you don’t get splinters in your fingers. I just used 80 grit and a sanding block. Sanding will also get rid of any marks on the lumber, or any stain that you may have accidentally put your hand blocks on.
Step 5: The Base
Start by drilling the holes for the carriage bolts. To do this place the flanges on the top side of your 2×8 making sure that the center of each flange lines up with the middle of where your palms would be for your handstand. Then you can use a pencil and trace the four screw holes in each flange.
Choose a drill bit that matches the diameter of your carriage bolts, and drill straight through the 2×8 making sure that you drill straight up and down and not at an angle. Make sure not to actually attach the flanges yet, because that will make your life much trickier in a few minutes. I actually got to use a drill press for the first time when doing this, it was mad exciting.
For the feet, you’re going to want to mark the bottom of your 2x4s and make sure everything’s lined up right. I chose to put my screws in a straight line, but you can zig zag them if you want, particularly if your boards are a bit warped.
Just like with the carriage bolts you’re going to want to choose a drill bit that matches the diameter of your longer drywall screws. Go ahead and drill all the way through the board.
Now switch out that bit for a counter sink bit. Since we’re attaching the feet from the bottom, as opposed to drilling through the top of your base (which is ugly) we need to counter sink the screws so that they’re inset into the bottom. Basically we want to make sure they don’t stick out at all, because that could make your canes tippy. And also because I want to keep introducing y’all to new tools. Yay.
Using a counter sink bit is super straightforward. Line it up in the middle of your drill hole and go to town. It’s fine to go deeper than you think you may need to, and voila, your screws will no longer stick out in any project that you do, right?
Go ahead and clamp your feet to your base. Switch the counter sink bit for a Phillips head and screw those suckers in. As you can see in this picture I attached the flanges to the base before attaching the feet which made this step a total pain in the ass. But, you all get to learn from my mistakes. Sweet!
Now’s the time to attach those flanges, so line ‘em up and go to town with your hammer, though you might not need to depending on how wide your holes are. Instead of pounding in one bolt all the way and going on to the next, start each bolt and go around in a circle. This makes sure that everything lines up nicely.
Flip it over and attach the washers and nuts (washers go in-between the nuts and the wood), tightening everything down with the wrench.
Ta da! Your base is complete.
Step 6: Hand blocks
Next, you’re going to want to do basically the same thing with the flanges for your hand blocks. Switch out your bit for one that matches the 1 inch drywall screws, or is even a hair smaller. Pre-drill your holes for the hand blocks, but make sure that you don’t drill too far, as the bit you’ll be using is likely longer than the thickness of the 2×4. You don’t even need to drill a full inch for the screw, just something to get it started.
At this point, if you want you can go ahead and switch out that bit for one with a Phillips head. Go ahead and attach the flanges, but make sure you switch from the drill to the driver setting! When you’re driving in the screws, I would actually go around in a circle and get each screw started, to make sure everything’s hunky dory rather than drilling in one screw all the way and then going on to the next, just like you did with the carriage bolts. Make sure you have a tight grip!
That’s it, right there in the title.
Step 8: Do handstands! Hooray!
And here, of course are the canes in action.
Oh my god a CROCODILE ON A BEACH.
Not the world’s best crocodile, certainly, but not bad all things considered. (All things being that I’ve been mostly off my feet for a month.)
Have fun and stay safe on the long weekend!