Making your own dumbbell handles from scrap

Slightly off topic, but given we’re back into an almost lockdown this may be useful for someone.

Exercise equipment is once again in short supply, commercial gyms are closed, and we’re forced to exercise as best we can at home.

I’ve been trying to get a home gym sorted on the cheap and ended up with lots of dumbbell weight plates and only two pairs of handles. Constantly swapping weights is boring. I looked at getting a full rack of dumbbells of varying weights instead but the prices are ridiculous in Covid times. Even a pair of 2kg dumbells is going for £10 or £20.

Given I have weak runners arms, I’m not in the position where I need 30kg dumbbells but did want a range of smaller weights. I looked at making some handles so I could have weights ready to go.

Looking around in the garage I managed to scrounge some materials.

Standard non-olympic weights are typically 1” holes. By chance I was changing the roller blinds in the kids bedroom and the interior tube was 1” diameter – perfect for the inner sleeve of the handle.

Looking through my stash of junk in the garage I found the interior tube from another blind, that was bigger and could slide over the interior tube and become the handle section. It would sleeve the inner section but be too large to pass through the weight plates so keep them apart.

I cut this down to 14cm, which matched the handle measurement of the dumbbells I had.

To hold it all together I used M10 threaded rod with a nut to help centre the rod in the inner sleeve, and a unistrut channel nut on the end. These are M10 and normally have a spring on them. I had a stash thrown out without the springs.They’re ideal as they’re a long rectangular nut that would grip the plate.

Tightening the two nuts together will lock them and they won’t shake loose.

Then put the plate on, slide the inner sleeve through the plate and slide the larger diameter outer sleeve up to this to form the handle and space the next plate off.

Then it’s repeat the smaller nut to help centre, and another unistrut nut on top. Tighten this up with waterpump pliers/spanners on both unistrut nuts and the whole assembly becomes rigid.

Because the double nuts at the bottom have formed a lock nut, only the top unistrut nut could come loose. If you’re worried about this then either apply glue or locktite to the threat, or a blob of weld if you’re able.

For me I’m confident then won’t move, and have a set of 5kg dumbbells ready to go. I made another set with two 1.5kg plates to give a 3kg pair as well. With the two pairs of proper dumbbell handles and 6 more 2.5kg plates I was able to create two heavier pairs to give a range of weights. For the homemade budget handle arrangement I probably wouldn’t go much further than 5kg on each end.



Only as long as needed to fit both weight plates, no risk of skewering your face with the extra length of a dumbbell handle

Can have a few pairs of weights ready to do 


The handles weigh basically nothing so you don’t get the added benefit of the heavy handles

If you don’t have a garage full of junk you might need to buy them

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