Wednesday, February 26, 2020

How to build jump standards

Alternate titles for this DIY project:

"How to build jump standards with inexpensive material, limited tools, and basically zero experience!"
"Jump Standards for Dummies!"
"Can you believe I still possess all ten fingers after this?!?"

Ahem, haha. Moooooving on.

gosh, aren't they pretty tho??
So it's been a couple years since my last DIY jump equipment post. You might remember, back in early 2015 Isabel and I contested our second ever BN at Waredaca, and had a completely shocking and unexpected refusal at an unassuming little white lattice jump on xc.

After which, naturally, I made it my business to familiarize Princess with said lattice. Lol... And thus was born the simple DIY Lattice Gate.

sketched out plans on graph paper to help create materials list
That project was a lot of fun, and I've sorta toyed with all manner of jump / jump equipment DIY ideas since then. Finally tho, the time was right. I asked the management at Isabel's barn (my old stomping grounds!) if they would reimburse the cost of materials in exchange for me getting experience building them some standards.

Obviously they said yes haha. Who wouldn't, right?

if you were ever curious about whether i drone on irl the way i do in writing, here's yer answer lol

I sketched out some plans on graph paper - including trying to figure out the right scale for everything. A lot of folks in a lot of different tutorials and forums suggest all manner of various dimensions for these pieces, but my final materials list is as follows:

For one complete set of 4' standards:
-  one 12'x2"x8" board
-  one 8'x4"x4" post
-  sixteen 3" exterior decking screws

measuring tape was helpful haha
In terms of tools used for the project, there are many options. In very broad strokes, however, you need some variation of a:

- measuring implement
- cutting tool to break the lumber down to size
- drilling / driving tool for assembly and the jump cup pinholes
- 1/2" drilling bit for the jump cup pinholes
- bit to drive in your screws

honestly not sure i've ever used a circular saw before this. turned out to be pretty easy tho!
I used all cordless Ryobi tools bc that's the type of batteries I have, and it's easiest to stay with one manufacturer. For this project, I used my circular saw, drill, and hammer drill. The hammer drill was..... ha, overkill lol. Buuuuuut it certainly made quick work of the job!

the "feet" are taking shape!! only needed approximately 8 million cuts with the circular saw lol...
Anyway. My plans called for each standard to have a single 4' upright, supported by a base made up of four "feet."

I therefore used 8' 4x4"s to make the uprights, but if you wanted taller (or shorter) standards you could obvi adjust as needed. Pressure treated lumber can be heavy, so keep that in mind when considering what height you really need.

beveling the edges seemed like a nice touch. the 1/2" version (second from left) turned out better than the 1" versions tho (all the rest) esp in terms of making my imprecise cuts/measurements less obvious lol
The base pieces were cut from the 2"x8" board, and one 12' board breaks down perfectly into eight 18" segments.

I've seen plans that called for using 2x6" boards, and using lengths shorter than 18"... but this was what looked best and most proportional to my eye. Considering the materials for this type of project aren't exactly expensive (I made three complete sets for ~$60), it doesn't make a ton of sense to skimp on dimensions.

everything smoothed out really nicely tho with a block plane!
Too-small dimensions will just make the standards look janky, and possibly reduce their durability long-term. Considering there are already plenty of other ways for these things to come out looking.... definitely homemade haha, the dimensions don't need to also contribute to that effort.

drilling the pinholes was hands down the hardest task - luckily a woodworker friend made me this jig
Anyway. The construction couldn't be simpler. My local hardware store cut the 12' boards in half for me, then I did the rest of the cutting back at the barn. Reducing each 2x8" board into 18" segments.

I also traced an angle on to each base piece to cut off the top-facing 90* corner. This makes the standards look nicer, but also makes them safer. It's one less pointy bit to step (or fall) on when things go a little sideways....

originally tried to use a 1/2" auger bit, but it kept getting stuck in all the wet wood chips
As a totally optional design feature, I cut a bevel into the tops of each standard. My circular saw has a base that can be adjusted to any angle up to 45*, so this was actually pretty easy to do. Tho I wasn't particularly precise with my cuts or measurements, and.... You can tell haha.

1/2" spade bit + hammer drill = emma's winning formula
Still tho, I think it does make them look more finished, and most of the unevenness in appearances worked out with a block plane and sanding. For future projects, I'll start my bevel about half an inch from the top instead of the full inch I did this time.

hardware rated for exterior conditions is important, since these standards will live outdoors full time
Also optional: I pre-drilled the screw holes into all my base feet. I'm like 87.5% positive that you could definitely skip this step and have it not make any real difference.

But supposedly this step helps prevent splitting the boards when driving in a screw. And anyway, I wanted more experience operating the drill so I was fine with the extra effort. YMMV lol..

also found it helpful to get all the screws started in the base pieces before trying to assemble everything
The last big step before assembling the standards is to drill all the pinholes. I guess you could do it after attaching the base too.... but it seemed easier this way. And "easier" is key bc this was without a doubt the hardest step of the whole project.

Drilling 4" holes into wettish pressure treated lumber took a lot more effort than I expected. And my first attempt was a complete fail, even with an experienced woodworker supervising my progress. I used a 1/2" auger bit, and basically as you drill down you want to occasionally pull the drill back out to release the accumulation of sawdust. Otherwise that dust just keeps compacting into the bit and everything seizes up.

My timing and technique were.... not good haha, and so the bit kept jamming, sending my poor Ryobi drill into a smoking fit.

Swapping out to a spade bit (still 1/2" diameter) made a huge difference. Especially since there's more clearance around the shaft of this bit for all that sawdust accumulation, so it's a lot harder for it to get totally stuck. I also swapped to a hammer drill lol. A bit more power never hurts ;)

a better work bench or more clamps would have made attaching the feet less awkward, but honestly this was maybe the easiest step
Once I had the new set up, we were smooth sailing. My woodworker friend also made me a little pre-measured jig to line up and clamp down for all the pinholes. This was handy for feeling like I could get all those holes drilled pretty quickly. But after a few uses, the holes started getting blown out and less accurate.

So some of the standards have pinholes that are a bit visibly misaligned. Nbd tho, they all still fit with normal jump cups. If I were to repeat the process, tho, I'd just measure and mark each hole location myself and skip the jig.

and ta da!!!! the standards have come to life!
Once all the holes are drilled, there's nothing left to do but screw on the bases! This was kinda awkward for me considering my somewhat amateurish power tool skills, combined with not having an appropriate work bench or enough clamps or whatever lol.

But once I figured out I could start all the screws in their base pieces ahead of actually attaching to the upright, we were in business.

this treated lumber will take a few months or even a year to dry before it should be painted, but they're ready to go!!
And, ya know, that's basically it! The standards could use a little finish work like sanding etc. But realistically they have to dry for a few months to a year before they can be painted, and they'll probably have to get sanded at that point again anyway. So I just left them as they are for now.

Overall, the project was honestly harder than I expected. Especially in terms of the actual physical strength it takes to handle the lumber and operate everything effectively. For instance, I have tiny little hands and every tool is somehow jusssssst barely too big for my reach haha.

Even so, tho, it was a super rewarding project and was very beginner-friendly. I have all manner of more complex or "exciting" jump equipment projects. But these humble standards were a great first go. Plus naturally any lesson program is always eager to have new equipment haha.


  1. Dude! These are LEGIT. Also, that jig is brilliant. When I made some last, the holes were definitely the worst part.

    1. Omg those holes were so hard tho. And despite my best efforts there are a few that only fit a cup from one side - something I had really wanted to avoid. I think just plain old practice is the key (or, ya know, a drill press LOL), but the jig definitely helped it feel less intimidating too!!

  2. That is really cool! I love DIY stuff like this!

    I have not ventured far into the power tool realm, except for drilling in the odd screw to fix something in the barn. I tried a circular saw to cut up little boards to make name signs for the horse's halters, but being left-handed, I had a bit of a hard time. Luckily I still have all my fingers! I guess practice would help! ;-)

    1. I <3 DIY stuff too!! Tho yea I can totally see what you mean about trying to operate this saw as a lefty. It hadn’t occurred to me, but yea it’s completey optimized for right handed use. Presumably they make versions for lefties too tho???

    2. I'll have to google lefty power tools! Sadly I think we are a pretty small minority, so most stuff doesn't have that option. I usually just have to figure out how to do stuff with my right hand and hope for the best (scissors, I'm lookin' at you! lol)

    3. oh and I wish I had pics from this Dec when a group of us DIYed horse head wreaths. OMG. lol There was a lot of alcohol and A LOT of swearing. I was the only one that could take apart the staple gun and refill the staples. I cut my hand about 3 times trying to do it. Crafts/DIY are risky. Not a lot of people realize that! lolol

    4. ha ok so i did totally google, and yea there are in fact tools with a lefty version. bc yea it's straight up not safe to try to operate something like a circular saw when it's not conformed to your dominant side!

      also omg that craft project sounds like so much fun haha. crafting is not always for the faint of heart!!! lol....

    5. cool!! Will have to put some on my bday/Xmas lists!

  3. Dusty made me a few when we lived in WI and honestly I rode and enjoyed life while he did the hard work HA!! Yours turned out awesome.

    1. Ha yea, it was definitely harder work than I expected LOL. I had this naive idea that I’d get all three sets done in a single afternoon. Ha. Nope! Maybe if I had the right tools up front, or if I wasn’t trying to do everything for the first time, that would have been possible. But I basically spent a couple hours on day 1 cutting everything to size, then day 2 kinda got halted bc I didn’t have the right bit for drilling the pinholes, but finally on the 3rd day it all came together ....

  4. I made some years ago (they're hanging out in my backyard by my fence now), but I pretty much did the same thing. Drilling the holes is the worst, but the right drill bit makes all the difference (same thing for putting up gates).

    If you ever have jump cups and lose the pin? Carriage bolts make excellent substitute jump pins. I've gotten so many free/almost free jump cups over the years because they didn't have pins. Just buy carriage bolts...

    1. oh man, yea the bolts are so so so so SO GOOD for that job, too haha. it's basically impossible to tell in the pictures above, but one of the pins (on the metal cup, not the plastic one) is 100% a bolt lol.... but hey, they totally work!!

      i've seen some folks use wooden dowels in a pinch, but those actually are kinda problematic. they can split pretty easily if a horse hits the rail hard enough, but then get jammed and splintered inside the pinhole... definitely not fun, esp when you're trying to jump crew at a show!

    2. I thought it was... Lol! I hate wooden dowels... I've actually had a past barn use fake flowers in a pinch... Just buy bolts!

  5. A few of the teen barn rats at my barn decided to gift my BM with some new sets of standards and poles. They had big ambitions...and then their moms ended up doing most of the physical labor while they painted their hearts out because it turned out way harder than they thought it was going to lol.

    1. ha, yup that sounds about right. i had all these ideas about fancy wings or cute fun fill designs but.... once you start sketching out designs with an eye toward actually putting it together.... yea, it gets complicated fast. esp fancy miter cuts or joinery or whatever. this design above was pretty doable tho, with the right tools!

  6. This is awesome. I had my husband make me jump standards and now I feel like I cheated. :)

    1. haha no way, that's not cheating -- whatever works, right? honestly i did this bc i wanted specifically to learn how, not bc i needed the equipment itself. so it was a fun introductory project ;)

  7. We've made a bunch of these though I've never bothered to beval the tops. They do like nice though so maybe we'll try with future standards. We had to leave all of our jumps behind when we moved. We made 4 standards last fall, but still need more. I haven't painted any of them either so it's super boring around here.

    1. i was a little disappointed with how sloppy the bevels looked initially, but they cleaned up nicely with a block plane and sanding, plus they feel silky smooth to the hand - always nice when dragging these things around! a router would probably do a much better job and could create more precise and interesting edge profiles but... ya know, i don't have a router LOL.

      also for whatever reason, the painting part doesn't really appeal to me. i figure these standards will get whatever they get when camp season rolls around and those kids are put to work haha...

  8. Those look great! You are way more handy than me!

    1. ha idk about that, but it was a fun project!

  9. Is the weight of the end product why you chose to go with 4' standards? I think my psychology I prefer 6' standards since that's what they have in the show ring though I do know several people who prefer the 4' standards and also half size poles for storage and moving reasons.

    1. honestly the height of the standards hardly matters as far as i can tell, provided it can accommodate the riders who will use them. literally the only difference is buying taller or shorter 4x4s

  10. Nice work - those standards turned out great! And that jig was genius. Recently made some gate posts and over-ambitiously tried a double bevel situation for the tops... so much harder than I thought it would be. Sanding and paint cover a multitude of ills though lol.

  11. I love this! My jumps are ones I bought off a friend but they are all super heavy wing standards and I'm thinking about making some lighter, basic standards. This is a great DIY!

  12. Very much approve of your choice of tools! Interchangeable with my batteries if you ever visit (and need to bring tools for some reason? lol)

  13. oh wow this is awesome!! thanks for sharing, gonna file this away for when I get my own place.

  14. I LOVE that you call it beginner friendly. I'm over here in absolute awe of you and kept thinking what a badass you are for even having the tools!They look amazing. Nicely done!!


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