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How to Build a Limbo Set

Make your own limbo set for your next party.
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The limbo game has been spicing up parties across the world for decades, with participants’ inhibitions typically following the ever-lowering pole. Tradition mandates that Caribbean music accompany the game, which likely derives from limbo’s birth as a dance in Trinidad. The original dancers mimicked the contortions slaves made entering a ship. No matter their efforts, they had to go below and not all would survive. Today, the limbo is a lighthearted affair disconnected from its association with a tragic history.

Place the two 1-inch diameter pipes parallel to each other, aligning them so that they touch and the ends are flush. Use pieces of tape at the pipes’ ends to secure them in this level position. These pipes will hold the limbo pole, and this step ensures perfectly aligned spacing.

Use the ruler to mark both pipes six inches from one end, followed by another mark two more inches from the first. Continuing down the pipes, make nine more marks spaced two inches apart.

Remove the pieces of tape and separate the pipes. Drill holes at each of the 11 marks on both pipes. Be sure to place the holes in a straight line running the length of the pipe, while drilling through the diameter to pierce both sides.

Place a drop of glue in every hole. Gently push a dowel through each hole, until one end of each dowel is uniformly flush with one side of the pipe.

Use glue to attach a one-inch diameter cap to the end of the pipe that is six inches from the first dowel. Repeat with the other pipe.

Use glue to attach the 1/2-inch diameter caps to each end of the 1/2-inch diameter pipe. This is the limbo pole.

Wrap a piece of tape above, below and/or on each dowel. Use different colors for each “level,” but ensure the color marking one dowel corresponds to its partner dowel on the other pipe. For example, both dowels placed six inches from the top on each pipe should share the same color, and so on down the pipes. This will help prevent placing the limbo pole on uneven dowels.

Place a 1-1/4-inch diameter coupling into the 1-1/4-inch diameter opening of a bushing. Repeat with the other 1-1/4 –inch diameter coupling and bushing.

Place a one-inch diameter coupling into the exposed end of a 1-1/4-inch diameter coupling. Repeat with the other couplings.

Anchor the coupling/bushing assemblies to the ground with the hex bolts. Turn an assembly so that it’s vertical with the bushing’s end touching the ground. Insert a hexbolt into the coupling and through bushing, and then hammer it into the ground. Place the other coupling/bushing assembly five feet away and anchor it, using the other hex bolt.

Insert the open end of each pole-holding pipe into the anchored assemblies. Place each end of the 1/2-inch diameter limbo pole on corresponding, level dowels and begin the game.

Things You'll Need:

  • Electrical tape, multiple colors
  • Ruler
  • 2 PVC pipes, 5-feet long by 1-inch diameter
  • Pencil
  • Drill with 5/16-inch bit
  • 22 wooden dowels, 2-inches long by 5/16-inch diameter
  • Construction glue, must be compatible with wood and plastic
  • 2 PVC caps, 1-inch diameter
  • 1 PVC pipe, 5-feet long by1/2-inch diameter
  • 2 PVC caps, 1/2-inch diameter
  • 2 PVC couplings, 1-1/4-inch diameter
  • 2 PVC bushings, 1/2-inch long by 1-1/4-inch diameter
  • 2 PVC couplings, 1-inch diameter
  • 2 hex bolts, 8-inches long by 5/8-inch diameter
  • Hammer
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