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DIY – Jerk Blocks

I dropped in at a local CrossFit Box near my home to try out their Lifter’s class. That’s where I had my first interaction with a wooden Jerk Blocks. I have been doing CrossFit for several years but haven’t had those boxes at my gym since they are mainly for olympic lifting, so never used them before. I really enjoyed using them and saw the benefit of being able to focus on specific parts of the lift with them. That sparked the idea in my head of maybe making my own boxes. I am still pretty new to woodworking but have tried it on smaller projects and as I looked at more and more tutorials on how to build them, I become more and more convinced I could do it myself.

The tutorial that I based most of my design on is endofthreefitness.com

Tools:

  • Miter Saw (Very useful but can be done with some other saw)
  • Drill + Bits (Will be making lots of holes for the screws and then screwing everything together LOTS OF SCREWING)
  • Spade Drill Bit (If you use nylon rope like I did)
  • Sander (Will need to sand everything down when done)
  • Some Measuring Doohickey (To measure stuff)

Total cost was about $280.

However, cost could have been cut in a few places if you were looking to keep the budget at low as possible.

  1. I found that 8ft was the most common and available length of wood but if we could get it in 10ft or 12ft the numbers would have been a litter better and I could have overall bought less wood.
  2. I had a decent amount of leftover screws so we could have bought about half the amount.
  3. Lastly, there was enough left of pieces of wood to make all the handles from that, so I could have saved a little by not buying rope/wood designated for handles.

Modifications:

I did make some changes before beginning based on a few other videos/tutorials I saw.

I decided not to get the 2×2’s for the handles and instead bought some nylon rope for the handles for the larger boxes as I thought it would be a lot easier to handle the heavier boxes that way. As you will see I ended up using all the nylon rope for the large boxes and decided to just use scrap wood from the extra wood to make handles for the smaller boxes without needing to buy more wood. There should be a little left over in case a mistake is made during this project.

Directions:

*My instructions are primarily for a novice woodworker so you can probably ignore most of my “advice” because you probably know better if you are an experienced woodworker.*

I definitely learned as I went along in this project so I will tell you what I should have done from the beginning and what I did wrong. I starting measuring out all the wood in the beginning which ended up being very useless. I also had never used a miter saw before and so didn’t know that its blade is pretty thick so you have to account for that when measuring.

My goal size for the boxes was 36in X 20in so all the boxes are made from:

  • 2 – 32in boards
  • 2 – 20in boards
  • 3 – 16in internal boards

Putting the 32in sides on the 20s would create the 36in length.

SO HERE IS THE BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE I CAN GIVE:

Make every box one at a time and use the existing boxes made to ensure the next one is the correct size. This way no matter where you might be off on the design, all the boxes will fit on top of each other perfectly.

  1. Measure 32 inches and mark it with a pencil on the wood.
  2. Once you have that piece, make a duplicate by putting that on top of the plank and marking the same length. This is how you will ensure all your pieces end up the same length.
  3. repeat 1-2 for 20 inches.
  4. Place all 4 sides on a flat surface and drill holes and screw the sides together with a screw on each end to form the frame of the first box.
  5. Once you have your rectangular box, measure the distance on the inside of the box between the two 32 inch sides for the three internal planks.
  6. Cut one piece of plank to that size which should be about 16 inches. See how that piece fits inside the box. It should be a tight fit that might require a little malleting to get in. If it is too long, trim it slightly.
  7. Once you have a plank that fits well, use it to measure out and cut 2 more planks of the same size.
  8. Finally, put the three planks in evenly spaced and drill holes/screw them in. I used a bit more screws that I think you need, but for the large boxes, I did 5 screws per plank side.
  9. Once the box is assembled carefully cut 2 lips from the 1×4 wood that are the same size as the internal planks to create the lips for the box. The lips ensure that every box, tightly fits on top of the other box.
  10. Use the shorter screws to attach the lips with about half of the lip sticking out. I also used 5 screws to attach the lips.
  11.  It is up to you to decide when you want to attach the handles so you can wait till the end or attach them now.
  12. NOW THAT YOU HAVE 1 COMPLETE BOX, YOU CAN USE IT TO MAKE SURE ALL THE OTHERS ARE IDENTICAL AND THUS WILL FIT TOGETHER WELL.
  13. From this point forward simply use every plank from this box as a measurement to mark the lengths for the next boxes.
  14. Continue this process for every box including the other section of the topper. For the topper the inside planks will be laid out differently.

The Topper

  1. The frame of the topper is identical to the other boxes. The main differences are that it will have a different layout inside to be stronger so it can absorb more impact from the barbell and it won’t need a lip since its always on top.
  2. You will be inserting 4 planks inside and they will go along the long part of the box rather than narrow like the other boxes.
  3. You will need to leave space on both ends of the box for the lip to fit from the other boxes.
  4. the internal planks will be screwed to the top of the box which will be made of 2 layers of plywood.
  5. Once you have the frame made, you can carefully lay it down on the edge of the plywood and draw an outline onto the plywood.
  6. Once you have the outline, cut it out and confirm it matches up to the box.
  7. Use the plywood you just cut out to make another one of identical size.
  8. I attached one plywood to the box first. and screwed on the internal boards to that plywood.
  9. space the 4 internal planks evenly.
  10. I checked that the new topper fit onto my other boxes. Once I confirmed that it did, I then screwed the second plywood piece on top of the first.
  11. I read that the rubber topper and edge pieces that you can see in some designs, is optional. After testing out the boxes as they are now, it felt solid enough that I didn’t add the rubber padding.

Finisher

  1. Once all the boxes and topper is complete, it’s time to add on the handles and rope if you haven’t done it already.
  2. I eyeballed all the handles. I tried to make the handles all about the same size and placed in the top center of each box side.
  3. I recommend sanding all the handles and the toppers. If there is time, you really should try to sand every exterior part of the boxes as eventually you will rub up against them when lifting or moving them around.

I hope this helps you create your own jerk boxes. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

Alex Bykov is a Web Developer by trade who has always looked for ways to combine his passions for CrossFit with his professional skills. Alex started CrossFit about 3 years ago to keep up with his kids and loved it so much he never looked back. In his nerdier days, A-Train also designed board games and card games for various companies. Check out his work at AlexByDesigns.