Rock climbing is one of the most exciting outdoor activities. It’s thrilling and does a lot for your fitness. However, it can be an expensive hobby.

If you go to rock climbing stations, you have to pay for every session. It is also a luxury to be able to go to rocky mountains every so often.

Hence, this is why many enthusiasts opt for building their own rock wall.

If you also want your own climbing wall, the first step is to have climbing holds. It can come in many forms. In this article, though, we will focus on how to make rock climbing holds made of rock and wood.

By the end of the reading, you can expect to know how to install the climbing holds to your climbing wall.

How to install climbing holds

What Are Rock Climbing Holds?

Rock climbing holds or simply holds are leverages that climbers use in climbing walls.

It is an artificial version of the rocks that we hold on to when we’re out for mountain climbing. These materials help us to be able to climb up a certain terrain.

Usually, you can find rock climbing holds in rock climbing gyms and rentals. It comes in different sizes, materials, colors, and shapes.

The most important quality that they need to have in common is stability. By this, it means that the holds should be able to handle a person’s weight.

In addition to stability, rock climbing holds should also have enough friction. This quality will let it act as an effective grip.

What Are Rock Climbing Holds Made Of?

Like what we discussed in the previous section, rock climbing holds can come in various materials. Here are some of the most common:

1) Rock

Rocks are probably the most durable out of all the rock climbing holds. More often than not, the designs of rock-based climbing holds are similar to that of mountain rocks. The only issue with this is if it’s faulty, it can be difficult to grip.

How to make climbing holds out of wood

2) Wood

If you’re looking for the easiest to make, then a wood-based rock climbing hold is the answer. It’s easy to shape.

It also doesn’t need heavy processing. Moreover, wood holds assure an easier grip compared to other materials.

3) Polyurethane

Polyurethane is almost the same as plastic. Rock climbing gyms usually prefer this because it’s more durable.

These hold types also don’t need maintenance. It’s not ideal for DIYs, though. This is unless you have experience in prototyping or chemical mixtures.

4) Fiberglass

Fiberglass is, by far, the material with the highest quality for rock climbing. It has little to absolutely no cons.

It also offers a sturdy, low-maintenance hold. It, however, has a very complex manufacturing process. This is much more complicated than Polyurethane.

If you’re going to have a DIY climbing hold, it’s better to use rock or wood. In this way, you won’t have to work with various chemicals and complex materials.

How to Make Climbing Holds Out of Rock

If you want to make a climbing hold out of rocks, then refer to the following steps:

How to make climbing holds

Step 1: Choose a selection of rocks

Choose a rock that fits your taste. This involves looking at the appearance, size, and rock type. 

Note that in choosing the right size, you should refer to how easy it will be for you to hold it. Avoid using bulky and thick rocks because you may find it hard to drill later on.

Step 2: Wash rocks

Once you have chosen the rocks, prepare them for the coming processes. You can soak them in water. 

Alternatively, you can also brush them under running water for better cleaning quality. Learn how to clean climbing holds once you install and use them.

Step 3: Flatten the backside of the rocks

It’s important that you ensure that the back sides of your rocks are flat. That is what you will be attaching to your wall once you install them.

There will be no problem if your rocks already have flat sides. However, if they are still bulky, you may need to do some more tasks.

For instance, you can use high-grit sandpaper and file your rock. If this method doesn’t work, you can use a filler to form a flat surface for your rock.

What are rock climbing holds made of

Step 4: Drill a hole on the rock’s center for the drill bit

Once your rocks are nice and flat, you can head on to drilling them. Use a driller to make a hole in the center. Note that the hole’s size should be the same as the drill bit that you will use for installation.

Step 5: Polish rocks

If there are leftover filler or rough sides, you need to polish them. Again, use sandpaper. Doing so will prevent sharp edges from hurting you once you use it.

Note that you can use regular rocks as long as they have the size you want. However, if you want better results, you can consider using natural rocks. It will give your holds an aesthetic and functional quality.

How to Make Climbing Holds Out of Wood

Woods are relatively easier to work with than rocks. Here is how to make climbing holds out of wood:

  • Step 1: Collect scraps of wood in different sizes.
  • Step 2: Shape the wood into your desired look.
  • Step 3: Use sandpaper to smooth out the edges.
  • Step 4: Drill two holes on the front side for the screw.

As you can see, the process is almost similar to making a rock-based climbing hold. The structure of wood, however, is more flexible since a simple saw can handle it.

How to Install Climbing Holds

There are many ways on how you can install climbing holds. The best method, though, lies in the “wooden board” method. 

Here, you need to attach a wooden board to your existing climbing wall. Instead of installing the holds directly to the wall, you will connect them to the said board.

Below are the steps on how you can do this:

Step 1: Prepare a square wooden board. The size will depend on how big your wall is. The thickness, though, should be 1.8cm to 2cm.

  • Step 2: Drill grid holes on the board.
  • Step 3: Install t-nuts on each hole.
  • Step 4: Attach climbing holds to the holes with its bespoke screws.
  • Step 5: Ensure that the screws are tight.
  • Step 6: Test out your newly-attached climbing holds.

Note that the type of t-nuts and screws will depend on the material of your climbing hold.


Making your own climbing holds is a good way to save money. It can also be an additional hobby for your rock climbing needs. Note, though, that you will still need to invest time, effort, and money to do so.

For making climbing holds, you can use wood, rock, resin, Polyurethane, resin, fiberglass, or any other. However, we mainly recommend working with either rock or wood.

These two materials are accessible and easy to work with. They also tend to be more durable compared to others.

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