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I've been slowly building an outdoor play area for my kids (4 energetic children aged from 2-11). One of my neighbors recently put a large number (~25) of wood posts out for the trash, and we saved the trash pickup guys some trouble and snagged them. The posts have about a 6" diameter, are well rounded, and are cut in fairly even lengths of about 3 feet long.

I've already bought some standard 2x4's and I'm going to put some of these posts into the ground as simple supports to turn 2x4's into balance beams.

I would like to to use some of the rest to turn them into "spinning" balance beams, or something along those lines. I'm not sure what might be the best way to do that. The rough picture in my head involves simply drilling a deep hole into both ends of a post, inserting a long bolt through a support post and into the hole (without securing it inside the post). That's probably not the best description, and probably won't work, but I also suspect that there might be some specialty bolt/joint/fasteners that are designed for this sort of movement and which will work much better anyway.

To recap:

Are there any specialty "bolts" that might be dropped into both ends of a post and allow it to spin freely while supported from the ends? If not, is there any way I might fashion such a connection using common home-improvement store items?

  • Can you include sketches of what you have in mind? – Mołot Feb 21 at 16:38
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You're going to need bearings. Even if you drill precisely and grease the pins, there will be substantial drag over time. The weight of small children won't be enough to rotate the logs.

I'd look into something like these tray bearings. Fit them between the end of the logs and your posts. It'll take some strategery to get it all together with limited space, but it can be done.

Obviously you want bearings substantial enough for this duty. Household "lazy Susan" hardware won't cut it. Be aware that load ratings are for horizontal application and don't apply when installed vertically, where shear forces are much greater.

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If those don't work for some reason, roller bearings are readily available and inexpensive. They'd require you to accurately embed them in the logs and use a stud that fits well and is rigid enough to remain horizontal.

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  • One issue with the tray bearings is that you'll be screwing into the end grain of the logs, which might not be strong enough. You could get around this by cutting a 3.5" wide notch 1.5" deep into the end of the log and gluing a section of 2x4 there, then mounting the bearing to that. – Drew Feb 21 at 17:55
  • Good point. Mortising the plates in slightly would also resolve that issue. – isherwood Feb 21 at 17:59
  • Search for "flange mount bearings" or just "mounted bearings". – JPhi1618 Feb 21 at 21:10

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