I built an olympic weightlifting platform in my garage with zero construction skills; I think my experience may be useful for others who are hoping to do the same, but are worried about having no experience.
- Research online to find every DIY video, tutorial, website, or vlog where someone talks about building platforms. Find out what is different in each case and try to understand if you can mix and match and what will suit your needs best. I used this and this as a guide when deciding what to buy.
- Make a plan and list everything out very carefully, or you’ll end up in home depot sitting on a shelf while you watch a youtube video and pausing several times, taking screen shots to verify you have the right screws (hypothetically, of course).
- Enlist help if you need it, or you’ll have an innocent bystander volunteer to help you put the 4’x8’ boards on the cart when they see you awkwardly doing strongman bracing and grunting from that one time you went to a strongman class.
- Make sure your budget includes buying any tools you don’t have, because most of the budgets listed online don’t count the cost of tools. I also had to rent a van because my small car cannot handle the 4’x8’ boards.
Here are my materials:
- Four 19⁄32 inch plywood boards 4’x8’ from Home Depot
- One 3⁄4 inch maple board 4’x8’ from Home Depot
- Two horse stall mats 6’x4’ from Tractor supply
- one inch construction screws (1 box)
- 1.75 inch construction screws (1 box)
- Washers for screwing the mat down, since the mat can rip if the screw goes in with no washer.
- Exacto knife (for cutting the rubber mats)
- Drill (I went with a DeWalt from Amazon)
- Blue painter’s tape
- Construction pencil for marking on the wood (also to use the exacto knife to sharpen and feel badass while your wife looks on disapprovingly and sigs, “ugh, men!”)
My process and pictures are in this album, including my mock-up (which I am quite proud of, since I have no artistic sensibilites) and the final product if you don’t want to look through the album.
Since this is my first time, there are many ways I could have improved my process:
- I didn’t end up measuring exactly all of the screws I drilled in; I just put them at regular intervals and vaguely tried to be symmetrical, since I was going for “good enough”.
- The boards would shift around so it was hard to line the bottom planks up exactly, and they ended up being slightly irregular. Maybe clamps or something? not sure. Again, it was just good enough.
- Although I ended up lifting all the boards myself during each step, it would have been much safer and easier with another person to help. I ended up with splinters and a few cuts, as well as a bit of a stiff neck, but nothing major.
Overall, I’m extremely satisfied with the platform and have very much enjoyed using it. There’s a real sense of accomplishment that comes with building things, and I never really understood that feeling until I finished the platform. I think it was a great exercise and very humbling to think that dudes doing construction have think about so much stuff for every different job and kind of wood. I think I grew up hearing those jobs belittled as “blue collar” or not as challenging as an engineering or other college degree type job, and so I am thankful for the experience.
I hit a PR clean from the ground today & am looking forward to many more sessions with the platform!