Friday, November 23, 2012

Hangboard 0.8 Available Now!

Guess what?! After two years I have hangboards in stock!
 Two Hangboard 0.8s
I am calling them Hangboard 0.8 because I made a couple changes to the final design since the design for these. However, no Hangboard 1.0 physically exists. Perhaps I shall go open source with the design...

The development process went through several iterations. I carved the first one with a chisel and rubber mallet. The second and third ones were manufactured at my alma mater, WPI, by a friend who also helped with the I-Beam Ice Axe. The next eight were cut by Holden Machine Company in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin and I finished, and will finish, sanding them in my basement.
Hangboard 0.1, 0.5, and two 0.8s
Why is this such a great little board? The features:
Left Side Holds
  • Made of of durable Hard Maple from Wisconsin. Go ahead and sink your ice tools into it. Or get out the sandpaper and round off a feature exactly the way you want.
  • Five different types of features: three different angles of slopers on the top, two different pocket slopers, a triangle pocket, a vertical pocket, and three small crimper pockets. 
  • Three holes so that you can mount a particular type of plastic or wood hold that you need to practice.
  • It's reversible. Flip it upside down. You lose the slopers but get a little different variety.
  • It's handmade and each one is a little unique. These were cut on a mill used primarly for steel parts. They will all be finished by my own hand sanding the burrs off. In fact, this was just about the last thing that Holden Machine Company ever made. Yep, produced locally in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin by a machine shop that due to the economy is going out of business. 

Holden Machine Company
Janzen Gear Hangboard 0.8s are available on Etsy. There are only nine of them in the world, but I have a couple of commitments to friends so I can not sell them all. Also, in the spirit of 0.8 and Thanksgiving I am selling them for 80% of the price of what I was planning. This is a limited time offer. Once the boards are sold there might never be more. In fact, if there are more they will be the Hangboard 1.0 design which is a little different.
Board Sizing (I have size small hands)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

There are Blueprints at the Manufacturer

I had several CAD formats that I gave to my local manufacturer and when he got around to running them using his CNC machine they did not work. This is unfortunately too common. A new version of the program comes out yet the file it outputs has the same file extension despite small changes to the file. This confuses older versions of the program when they try to run the new files.

To solve this problem I had my VP of Engineering whip up five pages of dimensioned drawings and I took that to the manufacturer. Dimensioned drawings spell out all of the dimensions. They are basically blue prints. Using these drawings you would be able to figure out everything you need to know about where to cut. It is a good situation, dimensioned drawings are far more universally accepted than any type of CAD file format.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Boards are at the Manufacturer

I dropped the two foot long (60cm) boards off at at the local manufacturer yesterday. He said he would try to get to them this week or next.

One of the considerations in a manufacturer is location. In this case the machine shop is less than three miles from my house so if he calls I can be there quickly. Every time that something has to be transported it takes time, money, and gasoline. While I have the time now, money and gas are things that I would rather not use.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Patience Because Things Take Time

I'm waiting on my manufacturer to be ready for me. (Isn't that cool that I have a manufacturer?) He has to order a somewhat rare mill bit and I imagine that can take some time. He also had a few orders ahead of mine so it is taking a little longer than I expected. Fortunately, these extra weeks allowed me to set aside a few hundred dollars in cash to pay for the first batch. This is a boot strapping operation. I'll write a post on that in the near future.

It can be hard to wait for someone else to get to my project because often what is of the highest priority in my life is further down on someone else's priority list. That is all part of business, so it is just a new aspect of business that I am learning.

Here is a picture of the ten cut boards each about two feet long sitting in my basement. This first batch is rather small, a mere ten boards. However, it is what I can afford. Also, once manufacturing has been established and a final product demonstrated it is far easier to manufacture more. I could even sell boards before they are manufactured! (It's actually quite a common practice.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Choosing the Right Wood

Monday I went to Kettle Moraine Hardwoods in Hartford, Wisconsin to pick out 20 feet of wood to make ten hangboards. As with every choice I wanted to make one that in part reflected my values. I came up with the following list of things that were important to me in this particular project.
  1. Sustainable to use. I was not about to use Mahogany because of it's history and current threatened status in it's native Central America. 
  2. Durable for climbers. That rules Balsa, Aspen, and Cedar wood out. I know for a fact that pointy metal objects will be used on many of the hangboards and a softer or less dense wood would likely get destroyed quicker. That being said, a softer wood might absorb more sweat and maintain a better grip longer. 
  3. Local, at least in Wisconsin. As of now everything for the manufacturing and shipping of these boards will be done in Wisconsin. It is more environmentally friendly to buy local wood than have it shipped for over a thousand miles. 
  4. A nice grain structure and color. Each one of these boards will be slightly different and it was important to me that when each one of these is mounted above someone's doorway it looks nice instead of being an eyesore.
When I walked into Kettle Moraine Hardwoods, I was amazed to see they had even more selection than their website suggested. The man that helped me was extremely helpful. I showed him my prototype board, which was made out of Fir, and described what it was for and asked what he suggested. We walked around for a few minutes looking at different woods. One of the competitors boards is made of Ash, I believe. As we looked at the ash he mentioned the Hard Maple in the bin next to it was slightly harder and less prone to splintering. I had never really considered that some wood might be more prone to splintering, which is extremely important for something that will be touching our fingertips and fingernails. The Hard Maple grain looked, expensive. It looked awesome, I was sold.

Hard Maple it is! At least for the first ten production hangboards and fingerboards. The best thing about being such a small company is that things can be changed quickly. If the first ten boards are too slippery, we can try another wood. For now, Hard Maple is my new favorite type of wood. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why Create a Hangboard?

"Necessity is the mother of invention." - Attributed to Plato, Frank Zappa and a slew of others.

Wisconsin is flat. Sure there is a famous place called Devil's Lake with classic climbing, including the first 5.13(a/b) or 8a ever climbed named Phlogiston. However, Devil's Lake is two and a half hours one way from my house. There is closer indoor climbing only an hour away. That unfortunately costs money and I am more or less unemployed.

Thus with time on my hands and an idea in my head I decided to figure out how to retain the climbing strength I developed this summer. Reading about Sonnie Trotter making his own hangboards and about the Metolious wood hangboards I was inspired to make my own. Admittedly the first one I made is very rough, carved with chisels. Fortunately, it was enough to do some basic training and figure out what I really wanted.

In an effort to continually create, innovate, and have an income I sought the help of a good WPI friend, Jeff, who was interested in the project. Some CAD work and some time bent over a CNC mill and the next thing I knew I was working out on the hangboard that I designed.

When I started this particular project I was skeptical of how much it would actually be worth for me personally. From previous experience most hangboard holds seemed the same to me. All the holds seemed to be the same depth. There were no slopers, which is what 5.12 climbs and harder consist of. There were jugs, which no 5.12 climber needs. There was nothing vertical, like a crack in a rock that trad climbers would follow. Finally, there was no cutomability. What you bought was what you got. If you wanted to work a specific hold you could not. My goal was to solve those issues and create my perfect training device.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hangboard Prototyping

All I ever seem to be involved with in Janzen Gear is prototyping. Do not misunderstand me, I have a great time prototyping. It is very creative, experimental, different, and there are many challenges to be overcome. Yet, there is no money in prototyping alone. There must come production at some point.

The Janzen Gear hangboard is currently in it's second prototype design. Today I had the chance to screw it into the wall and try it. It is phenomenal! Why? What makes it so great?

It has features that no other commercially available hangboard has, at least as far as I know. Here is a teaser photo.


The third prototype and likely production model was designed today. It does not exist in wood yet. It will be built in the next few weeks.