Saturday, January 2, 2016

Make an Over-Stretcher for Your Dancer, Gymnast, or Cheerleader

My daughter needed something to help her with her over splits. Against my better judgement, I looked at some online pictures of similar items and came up with the following. Now I just have to
avoid watching her uses it, as least as she moves up the rungs.

I used poplar because I still had a lot of it, and I was planning on painting it. When painting you can be less worried of small gaps because you can just fill them with wood filler or Spackle.  

I attached the two boards for the sides with double sided carpet tape and cut them as one at 31 1/4 inches.

I marked the center line of the board and marked the center of the first hole at 3 1/4 inches and the other three at 8 1/2 inch intervals.

I made small holes with a hand drill to help align the bit on the drill press, and I used 1 inch forstner bit to make the holes for the crossbars.

I drilled the holes closest to each end and moved on towards the center. As I did this something seemed off. I discovered that I made the gap for the interior hole I was about to drill 7 1/2 inches instead of 8 1/2 inches. I marked another 8 1/2 inches for the hole on the top end so I drilled that hole in the wrong place.

I re-drilled in the correct location. After separating the sides easily (or maybe not so easily), I took the a couple of slices from the dowel and plugged the bad holes.

I marked off the angles for the top and cut them on the band-saw...poorly. I was going to use the miter saw, but the angles I needed where greater than 45 degrees.

I re-clamped them and filed and sanded until they were flush. It probably wouldn't have mattered because they were so far apart, but I liked it better. I always know where my mistakes are.

I cut the 1 inch dowels into 4 slightly over-sized for the 22 inch lengths.

I made a 20 1/2 inch space to assist in assembly. I glued them, sanded the the dowels where they were proud of surface, and filled the small gaps with Spackle.

I cut the feet to 23 inches and marked the center lines in each direction. I did the same on the sides. This helped me line them up properly.

I sketched the location of the side in the feet and drilled holes and connected the feet and the sides with 2 inch screws through bottom of the feet.

I ripped the angle supports to 1 5/8 inches and cut a 45 degree miter on one end.

I held it against the side and the foot and marked the actual angle

and tried to match it with the miter saw.

I drilled holed into the flat side and clamped and screwed each of the 4 supports to the sides and the feet.

I once again filled the gaps with Spackle and sanded the excess away.

Then a few coats of paint and some felt feet.

Add a little pipe insulation for padding.

Material List:

  • 20 - 2" wood screws
  • 4 - 1" diameter dowels 24" length
  • 1 - 6' 1x4 for the bases and the angle supports
  • 1 - 6' 1x4 for the sides
  • wood glue
  • wood filler/Spackle
  • 3/4" pipe insulation 

Free plans are available in Sketch Up and PDF formats.


  1. What kind of wood is the dowel

  2. Wow! My wife asked me to make a stretch ladder for my daughter's dance team as a gift, 5 in total. I'm handy but didn't have any specific plans and was going to do my best. 6 years after you posted this it's exactly what I need, thanks so much!!

  3. Also, the height on the pdf is off by 1/4". Add all of the lengths and you'll get 31", not 31.25". I made the distance from the top rung and the tip 2.5" instead of 2.25" to keep the spacing at 8.5" on center.