There is a variety of wooden dummy plans available on the internet with some being more technical and detailed than others. Depending on your criteria for technical detail, the main points to consider for a dummy are the length of the arms and angles between them.
You can pretty much get away with building a dummy without being absolutely perfect with the angles and lengths. However, if you are going to the trouble of building your own wooden dummy it is worth getting it right.
Angles between the arms will affect the end result and also your training so it is fairly important to get this right. The height can be altered according to the bracket which you will hang the dummy on. Providing you have the holes for the hanging bracket in place, this detail can be sorted out later on when hanging your dummy.
Depending on your materials and budget, you will either want to match the wooden dummy plans exactly or, especially for the diameter of the dummy body itself, find materials which are the closest match. For example, if you have obtained a body from a recycled telegraph pole, this will be slightly thinner than a traditional wooden dummy.
By far the most difficult part of building your own wooden dummy, is the cutting of the holes for the arms. This can be done by drilling through at the appropriate angle and then chiseling out the square shape for the arms to fit into. Of course if you have an appropriate power tool that will help with this it will save you a lot of time.
A crude method is to use a chainsaw! This will obviously leave extra cut outs which will need to be filled in and depending on the thickness of your dummy body, may weaken the structure if it is too thin. I personally own a dummy which was built like this although I don’t really recommend using this method if it can be avoided! It has weakened the dummy body and has resulted in more splitting of the wood and less solid holes for the arms as the holes merged into one with the overlap.
Using a body made from one piece of wood may lead to the dummy ‘cracking’ as the wood dries out. This is why professional dummies are made from strips of wood which are glued together, rather than from one large ‘tree trunk’. This is not a major problem, though if you intend to use a telegraph pole or similar piece of wood. Just know that cracking is likely to happen and you can just fill in the cracks as they appear. The wood should be dried out as much as possible before you begin working on it. Make the holes for the arms before treating any cracks.
As the body of my dummy got older I needed to reinforce the cracking pieces with a strip of metal which runs around the top holding it together. The splitting caused the dummy to break up despite being treated. However it was used outside so the constant exposure to the weather probably didn’t help!
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