Finishing a balance beam


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Old 03-04-16, 06:19 PM
M
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Finishing a balance beam

Our little elementary school just acquired a genuine wooden balance beam. It's pretty rough- literally. I would like to get a project together to sand it and finish it.
My idea was to use sanding sponges to smooth out the nicks and clobber any splinters. Then I wanted to use some kind of penetrating finish that could be applied simply with rags or sponges- maybe tung oil, linseed oil, or something of that nature to keep the wood "soft" but not slippery.
I've looked into the finish of these apparatus but it seems like most of them are covered with suede and we're not that high tech or rich.
Any ideas that I may be overlooking?
 
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Old 03-04-16, 07:34 PM
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I think the suede is used to provide both a little give and to prevent the bar from being too slippery, especially with sweaty feet or hands. You really don't want anyone slipping on the bar.

An oil based polyurethane would give you a good, tough finish that wouldn't be affected by moisture, but I think you might find it too slippery, even if you use semi-gloss, which I would recommend. Putting a few coats on and then sanding lightly with medium sandpaper, like 100 grit, may give it enough tooth so it isn't slippery.
 
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Old 03-04-16, 08:03 PM
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Not what you asked but just make sure you're not opening yourself up to any liability if someone is hurt using the beam down the road.
 
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Old 03-04-16, 08:12 PM
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If I had the money, I'd have the thing covered in suede. That would rock. Alas......
 
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Old 03-05-16, 03:29 AM
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you might find it too slippery, even if you use semi-gloss,
Satin poly would also be an option although the sheen doesn't affect how slippery the finish will be. A light sanding would help some.

I wanted to use some kind of penetrating finish that could be applied simply with rags or sponges- maybe tung oil, linseed oil
I'd be concerned that any rubbed on oil finish might release onto sweaty palms.

If I had the money, I'd have the thing covered in suede
Maybe you could get donations from some of the parents or maybe even a business.
 
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Old 03-05-16, 05:37 AM
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I just Googled "balance beam cover" and lots of sites can up on how to make a beam, what finish to use, precut suede and faux suede kits and velcro strips to attach them.
One site just used industrial grade carpet to cover it.
 
 

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