How to hang a trapeze in rec room?

OK so I know this is random, but hey, what else is this forum for?

My daughter wants a trapeze bar in our rec room. She could use some more upper body strength, so this is a great idea. I am trying to figure out the best way to hang it – we have a steel one that is plenty strong enough, but I need the same confidence in the mounting that she’ll be hanging from.

We have a split-level home, and the downstairs rec room’s ceiling is bisected by the house’s main structural support beam, that’s something like a 2x10. The beam is covered with the same spackley material as the ceiling.

I don’t want to put eyescrews straight into the bottom of the beam, as I’m concerned they’ll pull out:

JJJJJ <--- joist
  O  <-- eyescrew

Wiggle around enough on that for long enough and it’ll get loose.

What I want, I think, is some kind of joist bracket (U-bracket) that would fit around the joist (barely), and that I could secure with some bolts through the joist from side to side:

  JJJJJ  <--- joist
-+-----+- <-- bolt
 |_____| <--- bracket

Then I would secure the trapeze to the bottom of the bracket, possibly with bolts + nylon nuts. Anyway, the bracket would provide a much more solid, metal anchor point.

  1. Is this a vaguely reasonable plan?
  2. Am I over-thinking this, and would vertically hung eyebolts (1/2 inch wide x 6 inches long) probably be fine?
  3. Anyone else done something like this and have relevant advice?

Hmm, I should go look up mounting instructions for hanging chairs and suchlike, that’d definitely be relevant.

Thanks for all clues.

If it were me I would put a 2x4 on the joist and attach the hanging hardware on the platform. Mount the platform on top of the joists and you avoid most of the fastener stability issues (as long as they don’t go nuts swinging side to side). It could be as easy as screwing a 2x4 to the top of two joists. Pilot holes are a good thing. Splitting is very, very bad. Carriage bolts with eyes in them will give you a good place to hang the trapeze.

How old is your house? Thus how old are those beams?

Splitting is very, very bad.

I meant it from the stand point of stressing the wood with the screws to cause the wood to split. But, I avoid doing anything to splinter or split a beam or plank like the plague. Most materials don’t take that very well.

If you’re thinking of using joist hangers for this, don’t. They are made of thin softish steel that will eventually fail from metal fatigue if they are subjected to movement long enough. They are designed to be used nailed flush to wood. You’d have to hang part of the hanger below the beam to attach the trapeze, where it will move back and forth a little when the trapeze is moving. You need something thicker and stronger. Maybe some kind of metal bar thick and strong enough to be safe that could be bent into a bracket shape by a machine shop and then bolted onto the beam with a through-bolt.

My point was that even with using the top of an old support beam, the ultimate stress of constant torquing could be problematic.

You’d probably be better off with a hardened steel brace that’s shaped like a j-clamp.

That is a good point. When he said child I naturally thought of my 6 yr old which more than a bit short sighted on my part. Anything that distributes the stresses as broadly as possible without removing any of the beam or joist material is a good thing.

No chance of building something outside?

Your inclination about the eye-bolts pulling out of the beam is probably correct.

Do you have any idea what the first floor joists are? If they’re lumber and not TJIs (“I-joists”), then this is what I would do:

Quick sketch, hopefully it makes sense. I’m making a few assumptions about your first floor framing that may not be correct. You could probably get away with only spanning across and lag-bolting into two joists instead of four, but you might as well go with four for peace of mind and future-proofing.

disclaimer: I am an architect, but I’m not an engineer. If this comes crashing down on your head I’m not going to be held responsible. It shouldn’t, though.

Two Sheds, your sketch totally made my day. I don’t know why, but I totally nerded out for a few minutes.

Studs are really strong. I’ve lifted an engine out of a car using ceiling studs in a garage.

Using multiple studs as support shouuld be enough for swinging a 200lb body on a trapeze, I think. The problem is the resulting horizontal motion on those studs (that’s what she said).

Well, I’m glad I could brighten your day!

Repoman, I hung a 100 lb heavy bag (which when I jump onto it and bite it like Homer Simpson weighs a lot more than that). No problems so far. Initially I hung it with just that eye hook in the beam. I started noticing it was taking a lot of lateral stress, though, so I created that little piece of wood thing and pre-drilled all the holes. In this way the weight is distributed at 5 points, not just one.

Am I the only one that thought, “trapeze bar, suuuuuuure” ?

ElGuapo’s solution is good if you have a wide enough beam. If it really is just one 2x10 (surely it’s a double?), then there’s not much wood there to be screwing into. That’s why I just ignored the beam in my sketch.

You are correct. We have a therapy swing for my step-daughter and the mounting plates with an eye-bolt welded on that I could find online were like $125 so I tried the simple approached with the heaviest eye-bolt I could find. (As in ElGaupo’s picture.) Predictably it eventually pulled out.

Looking for a simple, do it yourself alternative to the $125 mounting plate, what I eventually ended up doing was taking a large caster and replacing the wheel with a turnbuckle centered on the axle by washers. The caster has four mounting points and spreads the load effectively while the turnbuckle allows for 360 of movement. This set up has worked just fine. It’s a little bit herky jerky along the line of the axle as I left room for some lateral movement to prevent an excess of lateral force but it works for our needs.

If you go to your local hardware store and poke around in their casters, you may be able to find one that can be modified to suit your needs for a couple of bucks. I went with the largest caster that would fit in order to spread the load.

Edit: I used something along these lines:

While his solution is good for protecting the beam it’s mounted to, that eye-bolt is still a point of failure if you’re trying to support the weight of a moving person. Eventually it will strip the hole and pull out.

That’s probably true. I like your caster idea.

If I was going to modify my sketch above I would replace the eye-screw shown with an eye-bolt + washers + locking nuts. That would mean cutting a hole in the drywall ceiling, but that hole would be hidden by the board anyway.

I like that caster idea too. I shall be stealing it for my next mounting job.

Nope, me too, but I was too polite to point it out.