I want to mount a chin up bar to engineered I-beam floor joists. Am I safe to mount it directly up into it with lag bolts? If the spacing isn't correct and I span some joists with 2x4s, should I run it in between the joists parallel to the bottom of them (with screws going through the 1x2 bottom of the joist)? Or should I sit the 2x4s on top of the bottom I part and screw through the vertical joist piece?

The max load is around 200 lbs.

Here's a quick diagram based on @bib's response. On the left is how I believe he is telling me to go, on the right was my plan based on his response. The bar itself mounts up. The I is the joist(s), red is 2x4, blue is screws/bolts and green is the chin-up bar...

diagram showing installation into one joist, and across two joists

Photograph of the completed installation:

photograph showing installation across the joist cavity

  • Could you send a pic of the final setup? I have the same issue with 1 by 2 joists instead of 2 by 8s in the basement. Thank you
    – Luis Pikel
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 2:38
  • Great diagram and photograph. Also, this matches the recommendation of one of the manufacturers I've seen I plan to use this setup to suspend a dehumidifier. Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


If you use several lag bolt of sufficient size, you probably would be OK, but that is not a preferred method.

The load will be concentrated on the threads of the lag bold and the wooden fibers holding the threads. Bolts and screws are much stronger when the load pulls perpendicular to the axis of the fastener instead of parallel to it. This then relies on the shear strength of the fastener. Basically to pull such bolt(s) out, you need enough load to cut the bolt(s) in half, which is much higher than the load needed to rip through the wood holding the threads.

If you use a 2x4 spanning mount, the same rules apply. Attaching them to the bottom of the joist is again depending on the strength of the thread in wood, not the strength of the bolt itself. Putting them over the bottom plate of the joist and lag bolting them sideways uses the shear strength and is a much stronger setup.

A 2x4 laid flat (with its 3 1/2" side running horizontal) is not its stronger configuration. It is much stronger and less prone to flex if you set it on edge (with its 1 1/2" edge horizontal). But it is hard to drill a decent size bolt hole through the 1 1/2" edge, and it weakens the piece. You probably need to lay it flat. If the span is wide and if your attachment point are not close to the joist face, consider stacking two pieces on their flat sides.

If you use that approach, you shouldn't just screw lag bolts up into the 2x4s. Instead, drill through them completely and use a conventional bolt and nut with oversize washers on the tops of the 2x4s. This spreads the load over a much larger area (several inches instead of fractions of an inch).

  • Thanks for the detailed response. Please see diagram above if I understand you correctly.
    – Mark
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 23:02
  • @Mark I actually preferred your 2x4 spanning approach and the diagram on the right is the one I would recommend. Just double up the 2x4 and drill through with a bolt, nut and washer, no lag bolts, except horizontally through the joists.
    – bib
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 23:09

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