balance board tutorial

March 11th, 2011

This tutorial is for the fantastic Celebrate the Boy series by Dana and Rae, because what could be more boy then standing up and falling down over and over again.

balance board

A balance board is an incredibly simple toy. You put a board on top of a cylinder, stand on it, then try not to biff it. It is really a fantastic toy for all ages (though my toddler is a wee bit too small). I’ve even found myself fighting for a turn.

For the balance board itself I don’t have a list of materials or even measurements for you. The directions are basically, go look in the basement or the garage and see what you got.  The longer the board the easier it will be to balance. The width doesn’t matter so much, but your kids should be able to fit their feet on it.  As for the cylinder, I started with a piece of PVC pipe, but it was just too high for my kids (perfect for me though!) so I used an 1 1/2 dowel cut down to the width of my board. I couldn’t actually find the dowel when I was decorating the board and taking pictures, so what you see above is a block from my kid’s toys. What I’m trying to say is, you can make this toy with what you have, all I’m going to show you how to do is pretty it up.

I wanted something on top of the wood to protect my kids’ feet and make it easier to grip. Duct tape to the rescue!  You could easily just do stripes, but I thought why not make something super stylish instead. To make the chevron pattern, first you have to rip the duct tape into strips.  Cutting the tape is almost impossible, so just clip a bit at the end of the tape and then rip it into strips while it’s still on the roll. I ripped my tape in thirds, but ended up only using the right and left sides–the edges on the one in the middle were just too raggity to use. So I would suggest just ripping the tape in half. You will waste less (though my son did have a hey day with the extra tape), but the chevron stripes will be much thicker.

The length of your tape strips will depend on how wide you board is. Play around a bit to see how you can make a few zigzags  fit just right. For the first chevron stripe, start in the middle and make a V with two pieces of tape, making sure the point of the V is in the center of the board. Now that you’ve zigged, just zag out to each side.

For all the other stripes, start from the right and work your way across. Put one tape strip down, then overlap the end of that piece with your next  piece, as you can see above. Use the manufactured edge–because it’s super straight–to overlap a little bit the stripe that came before. Then trim the ends flush with the sides of your board. That’s it. Just keep going until you’ve filled the whole board. This project is a little fiddly at first, but don’t worry after 3 or 4 stripes it picks up speed and you’ll be wiping out before you know it.

You can decorate the dowel with all the leftover bits of tape. It’s not necessary, but it does make the dowel much easier to find. :)

The more I play with this toy, the more I like it. It works inside and outside, it’s a good gift to give kids, and it’s endlessly customizable. I made another one painted it with a little leftover paint mixed with sand (so it’s non-slip) and I have ideas for lots more. So if you know me, you children will probably be getting a balance board for their next birthday. Or I might just keep them all for myself.

Posted in tutorials.

33 Responses to balance board tutorial

  1. Carla says:

    This rules! My son is too little, but that doesn’t mean his parents can’t have one!

  2. Alix says:

    fab. we’ve done this with scrap bits in a friend’s garden, but never made something permanent to keep. love the pattern making with duct. you are a busy bee. Al x

  3. alexandra says:

    how creative! I love this!

  4. jess says:

    What a fun toy! I love when a plaything can be built with stuff we have around the house anyway.

  5. Ali says:

    Looks fun! We might give this one a go – put the emergency room on speed dial….!

  6. Jessica says:

    I love the way you decorated with the tape. I wonder how soon is to soon to instill in my toddler a love of falling off of things?

  7. Ashlie says:

    This is AWESOME!. My kids have used these in the homes of friends but I’ve never wanted to shell out the bucks to buy one. Thank you, thank you!

  8. mixette says:

    I remember one of these at my grandparents’ house. They also had a set of bongo drums that we could not get enough of. But yours is super-rad and skateboarder cool!

  9. DANA says:

    Meg, this is absolutely brilliant. Love it!

  10. Karen says:

    This is *so* awesome. I’m making one for my daughter tomorrow!

  11. Beth says:

    This is SO cool! I am adding duck tape to my list right now ;o) I have 3 sons that will each have to have their own…thanks for this simple yet brilliant idea!

  12. Sabra says:

    Bookmarked! My husband will love this, too. This is, like, the coolest thing ever! I think it will be awesome to have my boys help decorate one for their cousin who has a birthday next month. YAY!

  13. Iva says:

    What a fun idea! My son would love it if I made this for him. I better get on it!

  14. What a cool idea! We’ve been looking for cheap kid-entertainment ideas for our wedding this summer, and this looks like one to add to the list.

  15. Sophie says:

    what a fab idea!

  16. Heather says:

    Fun fun fun!! Yes, I can see my whole family getting down with this…

  17. i’m heading out to the garage now to see if we have any wood! i want to make this for myself since my 2 yo may be a bit to younh yet. thank you!

  18. Heather says:

    Gasp!—so awesome. We are going to try it this weekend!

  19. awesome idea, and perfect for the earth day festival I’m helping to put together, thanks!

  20. joan says:

    maybe if i make this then my 50lb 6 year old will stop using me as a jungle-gym!

  21. Ane says:

    Uhhh I love it – I totally need to make one – let’s see who gets to play with it :)

  22. This is great! I love the simplicity of the toy and the pattern with duct tape. Thanks for the tutorial. Now I just need a plank….Since you’ve got toys on the brain you may want to check out my latest post with some cool stuff from the Waldorf School here in Hannover, Germany—-including a crocheted toy the kids love. It doesn’t look like much but they get really creative with it.

  23. Lara says:

    ♥ your blog! :D
    This toy is a really great idea!
    A hug from Spain!

  24. julia says:

    that is freaking awesome! we used to have one of those at my grandparents house that we played with in their basement (now that i say that, it’s kinda weird that my grandparents had one- maybe it had been my dad’s?). i loved it. i did not love the one that my upstairs dorm-neighbor in college had. writing a paper with a migraine while the annoying dude upstairs keeps falling off the balance board? not fun at all.

  25. […] Emmeline and I had a blast making a new toy, and we’ve spent the past week playing like crazy fools with the finished product. It’s a simple throwback balance board — just a scrap of any old wood and a tube underneath it. (Inspiration and better instructions here.) […]