DIY Plyo Boxes for Crossfit-style Box Jumps [Illustrated]

I was considering joining a Crossfit gym that was on my way to work.  Commute-wise, that would have worked out for me, but it was a 40-minute round-trip for my wife. It would have run us about $250 / month for us to both attend.

It’s a kick-ass gym. Great instructors.  Super-friendly, good people training there.

But at the end of the day…the convenience and savings won out in our minds. My wife’s 40-minute per day travel time works out to 200 minutes per week or 3 hours & 20 minutes.  The $250 / month is $3,000 per year.  For us, that’s a non-trivial commitment of time and money.

We decided to turn our patio into our at-home gym, instead.  The block we live on is our track for warm-up runs. The park is our sprint station.  And, with the 3 grand we’re saving in gym fees, we can buy the equipment we need and want.

When part of your motivation for working out at home is saving some cash, you just can’t turn around and shell out 1,200 bones for a set of Plyo Boxes — just doesn’t feel right. Or even $80 for one 24″ box.

If you’re cool with boxes like the ones pictured at the top of this page, you can build your own set of three for under $50. It’ll also cost you about 2 – 3 hours including your trip to Home Depot. So roughly one week’s worth of gym fees & travel time.

The nice thing about building your own boxes is that you can build non-standard sizes.  12-, 18-, and 24-inch are standard.  We went with 16-, 20-, and 24-inch, instead.  So get down all of your measurements before you head to the store to buy your wood, especially if you’re going to have the Home Depot guy do your cutting.

Timeout. That’s worth repeating.  Home Depot and Lowe’s (and maybe your local hardware store) will cut your wood to size.  It took our guy about 20 mins, and he took care of it happily.  Tips: Double check each piece after it’s cut (bring a tape measure).  It’s much better to correct mistakes while you are at the store, instead of at home.Put all of the pieces together by just standing them up and make sure everything fits together.

I went with boxes that are about 2-foot squares.  That’s wide enough for them to be very stable.

Assuming you would like a 2-ft x 18″ box, you’ll need the following:

  • (Sides A) Two, 2-ft x 18-in pieces of wood of your choice
  • (Sides B) Two, 2-ft + 2(wood thickness) x 18-in — so if you go with 1/2″ thick wood, these would be 25″ x 18″
  • (Top C) One, 2-ft + 2(wood thickness) x 2-ft + 2(wood thickness)
  • (Corners D) Four, 18-in pieces of 2×2
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws
  • A Drill

Here’s an illustration:

Your supplies will look something like one of these piles:

I purchased 2 sheets of plywood, which was enough for all three boxes.  I selected this plywood because it felt sturdy — thick enough to be stiff when picked up. There is no PALEO certification, so I had to go with CARB certified. Haha. Here’s the label:

Glue up two of your 2x2s.

Now attach those to the edges of one of your smaller pair of sides (A). Hint: Choose one side to be your “bottom” — everything on the bottom side should come together as flushly as possible.  If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with a wobbly box (like the first one I built — grrr).

Glue and screw the other side, too.  With both 2x2s attached, it’ll look like this:

Glue the other side of each 2x2s:

Attach the (B) sides continuing to glue and drill in screws to secure everything in place.  You’ll have a box with no top or bottom when done with this step:

Flip your box over on to each potential “bottom.” The side that wobbles the least is your bottom — hopefully your attempt to keep everything flush has paid off nicely.  Now, apply glue in preparation for screwing in the top piece (C).

And, here’s your final box:

These boxes do the job. My wife uses the 16″, I use the 20″, and for now the 24″ is inverted and being used as a container to hold our mats and some other equipment.

If you want to get a little more fancy, you can paint the boxes and apply strips of skid-resistent tape along the edges of your top piece. You could also cut out, or attach, handles on the sides to make moving the boxes a little easier. I’m still using the bare, plain plywood with no trouble.

3 Replies to “DIY Plyo Boxes for Crossfit-style Box Jumps [Illustrated]”

  1. For the love of god, do not use particle board for plyo boxes! It may feel thick and sturdy in your hand, but it has almost no structural strength. It also deteriorates quickly if it gets wet. Use either AC, BC or Underlayment (PLYWOOD!) in 3/4″ thickness. You can use CD if you really don’t care about the finish.

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