So you're thinking about making our own platform :)
If you've lifted on a good platform you know nothing beats it. It's the best surface to lift on and once you have one you'll wish you had made one years ago.
Things to consider:
Where will it go - inside or outside?
Logistical concerns and available space will determine this for you. There are a lot of factors to consider. Inside is a lot easier logistically speaking. In the end I decided to have mine outside. Nothing is better than training in the sun. But this requires creating at least a relatively level surface to place it on (which may be quite a challenge depending on what you are working with) and it also requires water treating all the plywood.
Do you have anyone to help?
Making a platform is definitely a 2 person job, especially if you plan to do the install outside. It can be done by yourself, as I did mine, but it is a bit harder that way. Time and weather concerns may also play a role in the ability to get aspects of the project done, such as treating the wood and letting it dry. Once the platform is assembled it is diffuclt to move as well so keep this in mind.
What materials and tools are needed to make a decent platform?
4 sheets of 4 ft x 8 ft plywood - 1/2" thickness works well - these can be low grade - but find the straightest most level sheets you can.
1 sheet of 4 x 8 plywood - 3/4" thickness (matches rubber mats) - find high grade for that appearance if you can - also find the most straight and level sheet.
3 sheets of 4 x 6 horse stall mats are needed. They are 3/4" thickness. These will need to be cut as well (like the mats pictured above)
A Box of a few hundred 1" Deck screws.
What tools are needed?
A Drill or Impact Driver
Straight Edge for tracing cut lines
A long and thin box cutter - it's the best way to make straight and clean cuts on the horse stall mats. * This is important because there appears to be no other easy way to make straight, clean cuts *
Things you might need:
Circular saw (if the top plywood sheet isn't cut to 3.5 feet at the store - as you should have them do)
a Rake, Hoe, or Tamper if placing platform outside.
Thompson's water seal or similar water treatment if outside.
A roller or brush to apply the water sealer.
Leveling string and material to create a level surface that measures 8x8ft is a good idea though not necessarily mandatory.
Modify these directions as it makes sense for your application, whether indoors or outdoors and what materials are available.
1. Take 2 of your approx. 1/2" lower grade plywood sheets, orient them linearly and parallel to each other.
2. Take the other 2 approx. 1/2" low grade plywood sheets, orient them horizontally (perpendicular to the bottom sheets), and place them on top.
Take your time and line up the edges as perfectly as you can. Orient the sheets so they lay as level and straight as possible. Once you've settled on the best orientation, this will create the base of your 8'x8' platform.
3. Take your Impact Driver and 1" deck screws and screw the boards together. Go all around the edges in even spacing, and place some in the middle of the sheets as well. Make these as level and as flat as possible, you want the most sturdy foundation possible with no gaps.
4. If your high grade 3/4" plywood sheet isn't cut to 3'6" x 8' instead of 4'x8', cut it so that it is 3'6". This will create some more space for the bumper plates to land without them crashing down on the plywood sheet.
5. Place your nice plywood sheet running perpendicular to the top layer of boards on the base. Make sure it is perfectly center on each side. Do the math and measure and mark. Hint: there should be 27" of space on either side of the top sheet of the platform. Once you have it right, start screwing it down along the perimeter only, evenly spaced. Make sure it is as flat as possible against the foundation boards.
6. Use a straight edge to mark your cuts on your horse stall mats. Use a straight edge to cut against. These mats come in 4'x6' rather than 4'x8'. So you can make a 27" cut in one horsestall mat to get one side. Then take another mat and make another 27" cut. Do this using a straight edge, and use your exacto knife or box cutter, making a perfectly straight slicing motion along the straight edge, over and over again until you have cut through. Now you have 2 different 27" strips that are 6' long.
7. Now take one more mat, and then cut it so you end up with 2 different 27" x 2' pieces, which combined with the others you have will create your 27" x 8' long rubber strips on either side of the platform
8. Place the machine cuts against the center piece of the plywood for the most flush fit. Once you have it arranged, screw the mats down to the platform using your deck screws, go along the perimeter, don't screw in the middle so you aren't dropping your bumpers direectly on screw heads all the time.
9. Hopefully this was constructed where you want it to end up, otherwise, you must move it to where you want it. This task is fun. :)
The platform is sturdy enough to perform well even on an uneven surface with rocks present. It is noticable that it isn't perfect this way, but it's a huge improvement nonetheless. If I were to do this project again outside, I would spend more time leveling the surface first before assembling the platform. Once it is assembled it requires some help to move it.
But it is awesome lifting on a platform outside and it is well worth the money and the effort it takes.
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