How to Build a DIY Balance Board
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If you’ve been using a standing desk for some time, you probably realized that as much as it’s better to have an option to sit or stand neither should be done for a prolonged period of time. It’s not only uncomfortable but also unhealthy. In fact, if you wish to stay healthy and pain-free, you should be taking active breaks every 30 minutes. But what about those two-hour periods when you’re the most focused and productive? If you don’t have the budget to build your own sit-stand-walk workstation and your boss already paid for your standing desk (read our blog post on How To Get Your Employer to Pay for Your Treadmill Desk), you could go for a simple and modest solution – the balance board.
It seems like the balance board is becoming a staple of modern hip offices that have already adopted standing desks or standing desk converters but are now looking to also increase movement in workers. A child’s toy originally built by World War II pilot Stanley Washburn Jr. in 1953, balance boards are now instrumental in rehabilitation, fitness and sports training, and active standing. The latter is a great method for keeping aches and pains at bay as well as promoting blood circulation (and burning off a few extra calories).
Balance boards are not for everybody, though. They are generally targeted to fidgeters and often have a learning curve. If you’re looking to find out if one is for you (without spending around $100 or more on a ready-made board), building one yourself may be a good trial run—it’ll give you an idea of what to expect and which type of board to opt for should you decide to buy one.
No-Build DIY Balance Board Project
The easiest way to build a DIY balance board—if you don’t have much time or woodworking skills—is to repurpose an old skateboard deck. Usually made of 7-ply wood, such a board is going to be quite durable if a bit lacking in depth. The idea is simple: remove the wheels and attach a wobble—or any other type of base that will make the board balance. Easy and hassle-free. Not a skater? An old roller board deck makes for perfect DIY balance board kit material.
And if you don’t have a ready-made deck but know a thing or two about basic woodworking, you can definitely make one yourself; it takes as little as a sheet of plywood, a saw, and a sanding block.
DIY Balance Board Deck Construction
To build the simplest rectangular board, you’ll need:
- a 5-7-ply wood sheet (numbers indicate the layers of wood in a sheet—the higher number of layers, the sturdier the board),
- a saw (type depends on the shape you’ll be cutting—we recommend using a classic hand saw and a simple rectangle shape if you are new to woodworking),
- a sanding block,
- grip tape,
- stain or paint (optional)
Determining the size and shape of your balance board deck is easy when you know the dimensions of the component parts. You can copy the measurements and shape of the board you tried and liked or you can experiment with cardboard to prototype and fully customize your own balance board.
Indo Board [Amazon link] is a popular balance training system used for DIY prototyping. Its spacious deck comes at almost 30” long and 14.5” deep—suitable for all shoe sizes. The bigger your shoe size the deeper you want your deck to be, so you can comfortably and firmly plant both your toes and heels on the top deck. Judging from what we’ve seen from standing desk balance boards, 33” by 14” appears to be the optimal size for both tall and medium height users. Feel free to make yours smaller if you are of shorter height.
When all the measuring and prototyping is done, cut your plywood sheet to size, saw off the sharp angles and sand the rough edges to ensure comfort and safety. If you liked how your DIY balance board deck turned out and intend to bring it to the office, consider staining or painting it to suit your office decor.
If you want to increase traction on the surface of your board (especially if you plan to use it without shoes) grip tape is a good way to go. Adding a few strips across the length of the board should get the job done.
DIY Balance Board Base Options
When it comes to DIY balance board bases, the options vary greatly—from simple PVC pipe cut-offs to inflatable wobble cushions. Before choosing or making a base, though, you have to determine which type of board you need. There aren’t that many options for a DIY base (unless you are a talented crafting hobbyist), but we do have a few recommendations.
If you want an easy base that does not require any building, we recommend going with an inflatable cushion like the one you’ll see in the Indo Standing Desk Board. It allows you to regulate the level of wobble and seems like a stable enough option for a stand up desk. Just place your board deck on top of a quality cushion and enjoy slight instability. Remove the deck when not in use to limit air loss. We also recommend looking into this set of balance board bases from Revolution,[Amazon link], which includes an inflatable cushion and a high-density foam rocker.
We noticed that high-density foam is sometimes used in balance board bases, though we aren’t sure how well it stands up to compression with prolonged use. Also, as with almost any base, you will have to figure out how to affix it to the board. It may take glue or a few Velcro grips. With certain other bases, it may not be needed at all as long as they are proportional to the size of the board.
Do pay attention to the size of your base, too, because the levels of instability and difficulty may vary depending on the size of the base. Usually, the smaller the base, the harder it is to balance, and the taller it is, the more extreme the board’s tilting angle.
We don’t recommend using a PVC pipe base with your office balance board because of the extreme instability it creates. Better leave it at home for the moments when you can focus fully on improving your balance (and practicing new tricks).
Where To Find Materials?
If you have trouble finding plywood, try a lumber yard or ask at your local hardware store for wood scraps. Your local crafts store may be a good place to shop for smaller things like Velcro strips, grip tape, and acrylic paints.
Since the point of building your own DIY balance board is, more often than not, to cut down the cost, you should be able to find most of the materials in your garage, workshop, or basement. Otherwise, the cost of your DIY balance board may not significantly differ from that of a commercial product. If the price does not concern you and you’re simply looking to build your very own custom balance board, Amazon carries everything you may need for this project.
If you built your own balance board, feel free to share your experience in the comments below. And if you’re interested in the commercially available options, check out our Balance Board Reviews and explore a closely-related category Active Standing Mats. Looking to add a more classic kind of cushioning under your feet? Here are our reviews of flat Standing Mats.