Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DIY American Girl Gymnastics Bar

So what to do when one of the only gift your 5 year old American Girl Doll-loving girl keeps telling Santa is a $200+ gymnastics set?  Nevermind the fact that I could send my real live living breathing daughter to actual real live gymnastic lessons for that amount...but now she wants her doll to have a set of uneven bars and a beam, too.  Are you kidding me?

There was no way I was going to spend that amount of money on something for a doll. Sorry. Not gonna happen.  But, there was also no way I wanted my precious baby girl to be disappointed on Christmas morning and so I set out to make a DIY American Girl gymnastics set.
I searched Pinterest for ideas on making uneven bars for the AG doll and came across My AG Doll Crafts' tutorial.

I followed the tutorial in general, but made some slight changes to the design and parts list.   To be honest, the hardest part about this project for me was getting all the right parts.   Everything needed to make this gymnastics bar set is at Home Depot so head on over to the plumbing aisle and purchase the following:
  • 1/2" CPVC at least 8 continuous feet long
  • 5/8" wooden dowel 24" long
  • 4  3/4" CPVC 90° elbows
  • 6 3/4" CPVC T 
  • 5/8" wooden dowel 24" long
Additional supplies needed:
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Spray Paint
  • Saw (I used a jig saw, but a handsaw would work)
Alright now it's time to start building...

The first thing to do is to cut down the PVC pipe and the dowel.  My AG Doll Crafts has a great cut list that worked out perfectly for this project, despite a few slight changes down the line.  I laid my PVC pipe on the floor alongside a tape measure and used a marker to mark off exactly where the cuts should be.


Cut down the PVC pipe into the following pieces: 

         2 x 10 1/2"   (low bar sides)
         2 x  17"        (high bar sides)
         4 x  5"           (bottom)
         1 x 12"          (bottom)
         4 x  1"           (to attach to dowels)


Cut the wooden dowel into two 12" pieces. These will be used as the actual bars.

You can spray paint all the PVC and the rest of the parts (minus the bars) now or you can wait until you put the uneven bars together to do it.  I opted to put some of the bar together before painting, mostly because I'm impatient and didn't feel like waiting for the paint to dry

The original tutorial suggests using cement and special glue to attach the PVC pipes with the elbows and Ts.  I used hot glue and it worked perfectly.  In fact at one point I glued the wrong pieces together and had a terrible time getting it apart - that's how you know the glue is strong.  If you do go with the hot glue method - do NOT be stingy.  Glop that stuff all over the end of the pipe along with about a half inch up the pipe.

Alright now that that's clear - let's start putting this bar together.  Lay everything out...


1.  Grab two of the 5" pieces and connect them with a T in the middle.  (Repeat with the other two 5" pieces)


2.  Working with one of the sections you just made, grab two more Ts.  You're going to glue a T to each end of the section you just made.  Be sure that the middle T is positioned so the open end is perpendicular to the floor or table - where ever you are working. The two Ts that you glue on each end should be positioned so the open end is parallel to the floor.  Okay, I'm not the best at explaining this - just make it look like the picture below.  Repeat with the other section you created in Step 1.



3.   Take your 12" piece of PVC and use it to connect the two sections you created in Step 2 in the middle.

4. Take the two 10.5" pieces and use them to create the upright for the front/low bar. (Reference the photo below)

5.  Take the two 17" pieces and create the upright for the back/high bar.

7.  At this point you should have something the resembles the below (disregard the actual uneven bars, I was getting a little ahead of myself when I took the picture). If you haven't already spray painted the uneven bars, now is the time to do so.  Don't forget to paint the four 1" pieces and the elbows.



7. Once all the paint is dry, top each of the upright pieces with an elbow.


8.   Slip the 1" pieces of PVC pipe on each of the ends of the dowels.


9.  Put the dowels, with the PVC pipes on the ends, into the elbows to complete the uneven bars.


Now for a little price comparison. I spent just over $25 total on all the supplies:

$13.84 - 10' PVC)
$2.25 - dowel
$7 - elbows and T's
$3.87 (spraypaint)

Plus, I saved enough to put my actual kid in gymnastics classes AND she won't be disappointed on Christmas morning when she sees her custom built DIY American Girl Gymnastics bars.




And here's the tutorial for the DIY American Girl balance beam...this is even even easier than the knockoff doll uneven bars.



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