I am planning on doing a dark-minimalist barbell, plates, and potentially a bench. I plan on fabricating the weights by using a large bucket (similar to what is shown below) as a mold to pour concrete, potentially using rebar or some other inserts to provide additional strength and shatter resistance to the weights.

home depot bucket

For the bar, I plan on using a 1 inch inner diameter steel pipe from Home Depot as shown below. While this will definitely not be the same weight, strength, or size as a standard barbell, it will be close enough for my purposes. My primary worry however is the strength which I plan on analyzing with FEA before I start in case I need to change materials. I may also choose to fill the bar with something like sand or cement to increase its weight.

Home Depot Bar

I plan on making the ‘plates’ with a large mop bucket as a mold. I will mix concrete separately, then pour it into the bucket while weighing it. There will also be a PVC pipe in the middle of the bucket to act as a barbell sleeve. After pouring approximately half the intended weight, I may insert something like rebar in order to increase strength. After the concrete has set and is done drying, I will remove the plate, and spray it in a rubberized protective sealant like Flex Seal.


I plan on making plates at twenty five pounds instead of the typical forty five. One reason for this is because I like the thin, minimalist style of classic barbell plates as shown below, and the use of concrete instead of steel means that the plates will have to be thicker for the same weight.

Barbell Plates

I may choose to add white text on the plates as well, just to add some detail to them. The bar will also be plain black. I might add some grips to the bar if it is too small at its nominal size, or if I cannot gain access to a knurling machine. I will add some sort of collars on the bar as well so that the plates cannot move too narrowly in.

The aesthetic of this project is taking heavily from the minimalist design movement, and will also take some design elements from the industrial design movement as well. I like this aesthetic specifically for this project because the gym is a very serious thing for me. I like darker aesthetics for gym related things, but frequently I find most companies have too much of an angsty aesthetic for me, like Darc sport shown below.

Darc Sport Hoodie

While I do not really think there is much from my childhood that influenced me to choose an aesthetic like this, I could see some subconscious influence potentially from where I grew up. Since I am from the bay area, which is obviously very techy, I think it is possible that I may have gained some influence from this.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Jonathon Gruener
    March 3, 2024 10:52 pm

    Hi Peter. I think this is a super cool idea but I would definitely be careful. I think that FEA is a great idea to solve some problems before they come up. One question I have is how will you recreate the barbell collars on the pipe, so that the plates don’t slide inward toward your hand?

  • Barrett Lister
    March 3, 2024 10:41 pm

    The functionality in this one is awesome, especially considering how expensive weights can be for just being heavy objects that are conveniently shaped. I actually have done a project similar to this but with dumbbells; during covid lockdown hand weights were at an absolute premium price, and I also used a concrete mold similar to your planning. One thing I will say that you are spot on with is the thickness of the weights. Concrete is actually surprisingly not dense at all compared to metal, and my weights came out looking like those old timey dumbells that weightlifters in leotards use to use. Kinda cool because even the 25 pound weight was just absolutely massive!


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