On your toes.
November 1, 2007 6:21 AM   Subscribe

I want to tie up my kinky girlfriend, so I need to install a strong hook of some kind in my ceiling. Help me make sure it doesn't fall down.

What I'm after is to have some kind bracket in the ceiling, with a hook or carabiner or something, to which I can tie ropes, etc. Ideally, it would be strong enough for a person (say 125 pounds) to hang from.

I know how to find studs to install shelves, and I expect it's a similar idea when mounting stuff to the ceiling. What I don't know is what the strongest point of the ceiling is, and how to find it. I imagine I'll need to distribute the load amongst several big-ass screws. How many will I need, and how do I put everything together? Are there kits for this? What if I mount something to a length of 2x4, and then screw that into a beam at several points? Would that hold?

I rent an apartment, but I'm willing to accept doing some drywall patch-up work when I move out if that's what it takes to pull this off.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

If you're not sure, check with a builder who knows his stuff. It's easy to get it wrong. Unrelated site, but 'Make sure that the anchor points you choose can withstand the loads you will be placing on them, and that they can't slide or move while the rings are in use. It is easy to underestimate the force you will be able to generate, so be conservative and consult an engineer if you are in doubt.'

In fact finding out from someone that knows how to fit rock climbing training gear like that is probably not a bad idea. And it's a good excuse if you don't want to tell your builder what you're really up to.
posted by edd at 6:48 AM on November 1, 2007

You might consider a portable rig like this (NSFW link) (have not used it, cannot vouch for it).
posted by desjardins at 7:01 AM on November 1, 2007

Having never done what you're talking about, and only speaking from a construction standpoint, here's what I'll say:
Don't even consider building it to 125lbs. Build it more for 500. If she's writing around in it, especially with you touching her, she'll easily do 300. 500 is a safe buffer. With that said, you'll want to distribute that load between two trusses, and you don't want to screw into the BOTTOM of them anyway. You'll want something attached to a board (or 3) that's on TOP of them. I would poke a hole about where you think you might like it in the ceiling, and then get into your attic. From there would firmly attach a treated 2x4 or a 4x4 across the two trusses on either side. Then I would take a LONG, LARGE I BOLT and run it from the true center of the trusses through the ceiling, through a blocking piece to keep if from swinging back and forth (placed between the trusses, under the big piece of wood up top), through the 4x4, through a couple large washers, and secured with a locknut.

Even then I would be careful, but that should handle the load.
posted by TomMelee at 7:10 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to 'fess up to a contractor that you are installing a kinkymaking apparatus, you can say that you are installing a chair hammock.

(I actually did have a chair hammock in an apartment, mine was like this -- we secured it using several large bolts that came with. I wish I had more info on how we bolted it in for you, but it was a Dad Project.)
posted by desuetude at 7:15 AM on November 1, 2007

You rent this place? Then I would build a 2x4 frame over the bed that could be dismantled and removed without leaving a sign it was there.

If I owned the place, I would tell a builder to install the hook and tell him exactly what I intended to do. It's nothing to be ashamed of, not when talking builder to customer. As for explaining it to your mother when she visits, you're on your own.
posted by pracowity at 7:21 AM on November 1, 2007

"Yeah mom, a sex swing. That's what it is--well, no, more like a suspension type of thing. I don't know. Maybe I should just show you how it works. Then you'll understand."

Sorry! My best advice, as well, is to talk with someone who understands the, ahem, loads that will be borne by your ropes and studs: you don't want to have any kind of, shall we say, premature collapse. Safety first!
posted by dead_ at 7:27 AM on November 1, 2007

Rigging effects for films usually includes putting twice the expected load on it, then jerking it around. You don't want to be dropped head first onto your neck, especially if you can't use your hands to land.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:39 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

(To clarify, I mention the chair hammock because there are similar issues of weight and strain, mostly in a downward direction but with some swinging as well. Seconding that you're going to have to build it to 300 lbs, not 125.)
posted by desuetude at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2007

Ideally, it would be strong enough for a person (say 125 pounds) to hang from.

What if your kinky girlfriend wants to tie YOU up?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 AM on November 1, 2007

Ceiling suspension point instructions (SFW, with diagrams)
posted by desjardins at 8:35 AM on November 1, 2007

It's not safe enough for work for me to google, but i'm sure i've seen "travel" sex swings before that work by hooking around the partner's shoulders for support. Not exactly what you're looking for, but might be worth checking out if you can't find a safe way to install the whole thing.
posted by ukdanae at 8:49 AM on November 1, 2007

Install it just like you'd install a hook for a hanging hammock-chair.

I don't think it's really that hard, you just need to get an eye-bolt of suitable size and then make sure it goes directly into the stud. That's the only tricky part: a stud-finder will show you where the stud is, generally, but most of them won't really show you the exact center. And if you're putting a 3/8" or 1/2" eye-bolt into a stud that's only 1-3/4" wide, you really need it to be in the center.

I saw someone on some building show once, find a stud center by drilling two holes on either side of the stud, and then reaching up there with some curved calipers. Not sure if they were purpose-designed or not (they didn't look like it). You might be able to fake something like that with coat-hanger wire and careful measuring.

Anyway, you can always go down to your local hardware store and ask them for recommendations on hanging-chair installation.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:55 AM on November 1, 2007

Any way you can tie her to something already existing, or to something more stable? Or do you literally have to tie her up?

There are tons and tons and tons of sexy bondage positions that don't involve suspension - it's complicated to get right and disastrous to get wrong. If you haven't already, tie her to the bed first, or another sturdy piece of furniture, or tie her hands or feet together - these can all be hot, and she won't run as much risk of ending up in the hospital.

I'm not sure how experienced you are with bondage from the context you've given, so I'm assuming you're a beginner, and I apologize if this assumption is incorrect. A lot of good BDSM books address the basics of bondage, including suspension (and all that could go wrong with it) -- I'd recommend you start there.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:02 AM on November 1, 2007

I imagine I'll need to distribute the load amongst several big-ass screws.

posted by sarelicar at 9:12 AM on November 1, 2007 [10 favorites]

I wouldn't put this in the ceiling of a rental...Babeland has underbed and doorjamb restraints in its bondage section.
posted by brujita at 10:05 AM on November 1, 2007

Metroid, I was assuming that he was NOT a beginner, because suspension is not for bondage novices. If this is indeed the case, please take some lessons from an expert before you do this.
posted by desjardins at 10:07 AM on November 1, 2007

To hide this from your mother when she visits (to answer a tangential question), you simply buy a four-poster bed with square frame across the tops. Not only will it provide additional tie-up points, but you can hang a large curtain from the ceiling hook, drape it over the square frame and posts, and your mother will think that's why you hung the hook.
posted by davejay at 10:19 AM on November 1, 2007

For the love of biscuits, and I mean this, DO NOT SCREW INTO THE STUD. Hanging hammocks entail forces that are entirely different than the forces that will be subjected upon this application.
posted by TomMelee at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2007

I just emailed the guy who basically invented bondage rigging as a profession in the US. We'll see what he says.
posted by klangklangston at 10:45 AM on November 1, 2007

I wonder if a heavy punching bag might make a better comparison than a hammock chair. Those things get subjected to all sorts of sideways forces.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:55 AM on November 1, 2007

Whatever you do , DO NOT use an eyebolt screwed into the joist in the ceiling. No matter how big of an eye it is.

Do not screw any thing in the upwards direction if its going to be holding human weight in the downwards direction.

I know i dont know you from adam, but...

Please please please tell me this isn't the first time you are introducing her to being tied up. Please consider any of the million non-suspension positions first.

I know the current fashion in the BDSM industry is to make it look like a woman should forgo the less "involved" ways of being tied up, such as love bondage or damsel-in-distress scenes, and jump headlong into suspensions, but please be careful.

FYI, during all those suspensions you've probably seen online there is usually more than one "rigger" (the person doing the tying). They are just off camera.

If you really need/want to suspend her, find some like minded friends (couples) and do it safely.
posted by sandra_s at 12:38 PM on November 1, 2007

I just noticed the "On your toes."

If you are looking for her to be on tiptoe and stretched vertically, you can do a very sexy pole-tie with her.

Have her wear nothing but high heels. Have her stand with her back to a pole. Then tie her hands above her head as far as they will go.

Then take off the heels.

If it gets to uncomfortable or you need to get the stress off her for any reason, simply slip the heels back on.

You can add to the tie by tying a rope chest harness above and below her breasts, maybe a crotchrope holding her middle to the pole, tie her knees...

her ankles...

Um..uh... did it just get really hot in here?
posted by sandra_s at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2007

This guy uses a lighting truss for suspension. (NSFW)

sandra_s, in that scenario, if you tie her ankles, it seems like it would be difficult to get the shoes back on.
posted by desjardins at 1:02 PM on November 1, 2007

Dude just hammer a nail into the top of your open bedroom door, near the knob edge. Loop the chain on a pair of fuzzy handcuffs over that.
posted by muscat at 1:11 PM on November 1, 2007

Have her stand with her back to a pole.

Next AskMe: How do I install a pole in my apartment?
posted by desuetude at 1:29 PM on November 1, 2007

desuetude: How do I install a pole in my apartment?

Bed post ;-) oooh, you can do hands over a door as well.

desjardins: in that scenario, if you tie her ankles, it seems like it would be difficult to get the shoes back on.

Nope. Ive done it and had it done before :-) not difficult at all.
posted by sandra_s at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2007

sandra, I will take your word for it then, I have not done that type of scene (and my partner doesn't wear heels).

muscat: using handcuffs in this way is likely to cause nerve damage. Fuzziness does not provide padding. References 1, 2, 3 Use suspension cuffs instead.
posted by desjardins at 2:56 PM on November 1, 2007

How to do this depends a lot on what you actually want to be doing with your girlfriend. There is a big difference in the loads generated by completely suspending (and then perhaps fucking) someone like in the link desjardines gives, compared to someone standing, perhaps on their toes, with their hands tied above their head while you flog them or tickle them or bake cookies in the other room, whatever gets you both off.

If it's the first, the total suspension, then listen to TomMelee and plan for some serious loads. A lot of houses have roof trusses made out of startlingly small lumber -- the last attic I was in had 2x4 trusses, for example. Now, a 2x4 is actually pretty strong, but it is flexible enough that if you are really bouncing her around, you might find yourself cracking the sheetrock on the ceiling, or worse.

If it's the second, where she is on her feet, the loads are less, and if it breaks it's no big deal because she won't fall, all you need to do is pretend you are installing a chair hammock, as suggested above. (For privacy, if you have an office or guest bedroom, I'd suggest actually buying a chair hammock -- when people come over, all they see is a comfy hanging chair, and when you want some kinky time you just unhook the hammock and strap up your girl. An eyebolt above the bed screams "PERVERT!!!!" which is cool when your kinky friends visit, but not so cool when your girlfriend's father drops by unexpectedly.)

But really, if you are renting, I'd avoid all of these suggestions that involve drilling holes and then needing to later repair the damage, and instead shop for temporary solutions, like the Babeland link, or the four-poster bed suggestion. Particularly if you have a textured ceiling, it is hard to make the cosmetic repairs good enough to avoid losing part of the damage deposit.
posted by Forktine at 3:05 PM on November 1, 2007

"Dude just hammer a nail into the top of your open bedroom door, near the knob edge. Loop the chain on a pair of fuzzy handcuffs over that."

This is a great way to fuck up your hinges.
posted by klangklangston at 3:38 PM on November 1, 2007

ah yes... thanks desjardins & klangklangston. I read the title as meaning that the poster simply wanted a way to keep someone's arms over their head, not necessarily some elaborate suspension apparatus... guess I should have clarified what I meant. I wouldn't think that my solution would hold more than a few pounds of leaning-but-otherwise-supported-by-the-ground weight.

Thanks, mefi! Stupid post on my part, glad others stepped up to warn people not to damage their property or themselves.
posted by muscat at 3:50 PM on November 1, 2007

Ok, just talked to the bondage rigger, and he pointed out a couple of things—

First, if he were doing it, he'd build a separate frame, one that could handle both the stress of the suspended body (which will imply surged forces as she moves), and one that could handle the force required to lift someone (you still have to have something to elevate when you suspend).

Second, he emphasizes that you should NOT use eye screws, as those will straighten out under relatively little force. You need a drop steel eyelet, or an eyelet that's welded shut.

Third, he pointed out that when doing this for film, union regulations require that after every single shoot, every bit of rigging, every nut and every cable, be destroyed—because there's no way to know when one will go if it's been stressed. Slightly less risk for you, but still, he replaces every piece of his bondage rigs every three months whether he's used 'em or not.

So, what I would do is knock together something solid, with a lot of corner bracing. I'd probably use 2x6 or 2x8 boards, and brace on x, y and z axes, with corners reinforced. I mean, you're probably not going to be doing anything all that dangerous, but it's easier than you'd think to break a bone or dislocate a joint with poorly-made bondage rigging.

As far as taking it apart, you should be able to use nuts and bolts if you reinforce the holes, and you should be able to set that up a couple hours before you play in about 20 minutes if you build it well.
posted by klangklangston at 4:40 PM on November 1, 2007

Kadin2048 writes "I don't think it's really that hard, you just need to get an eye-bolt of suitable size and then make sure it goes directly into the stud. That's the only tricky part: a stud-finder will show you where the stud is, generally, but most of them won't really show you the exact center. And if you're putting a 3/8' or 1/2' eye-bolt into a stud that's only 1-3/4' wide, you really need it to be in the centre."

If you have trusses do not use anything hanging from a single truss. There isn't a residental small member roof truss on the planet that is designed for that kind of point loading. You'd need to run a strong back across several trusses to be safe. A good start is a 10' 4X4 and a long forged eye bolt. Drill a hole in the centre of the 4X4 for the eye bolt to go through. Lay the 4X4 across the trusses with the hole where you want the anchor point. Sink a couple toe nails to stop the beam moving. Run the eye bolt thru the ceiling and 4X4 and use a large washer or two and a self locking nut to secure it. This of course will only work if there is roof above you, another approach will be required if you have floor above your ceiling.

The problem with attaching a beam to the bottom of your ceiling is wood fasteners in tension can fail in a "zipper" fashion. Essentially all the force is concentrated on the nearest fastener. That fastener can therefor fail if you were counting on the other fasteners to share the load. Once the first one fails the rest follow in very short order. (good example of this in the bamboo scaffolding scene of Rush Hour 2).

If it'll work for you it would be a lot easier to do this safely by mounting the suspension point at the very top of the wall rather than on the ceiling. That way your attachment point is in shear rather than in tension. A simple threaded insert would do the trick and you could spackle over it when you moved with minimum fuss. You can hide it by hanging a full length mirror from the hook.

If I needed to do this and the freestanding frame wouldn't work here's what I'd do:
  1. Determine where I wanted the anchor point.
  2. Find the joists on either side of the anchor point.
  3. Cut a square hole in the ceiling spanning between the two joists and about 14-18" wide.
  4. Using simpson joist brackets install blocking spanning the distance between the two joists. I'd use two pieces of 2X material the full height of the joists and double joist hangers
    • make sure you use the correct nails for joist hangers
    • be aware that if you encounter trusses or TJI joists you'll need to take special steps to secure the hangers that vary depending on what the exact product is.

  5. Before installing the blocking I'd need to install the eye bolt. I'd install the forged eye bolt as with the rafter approach. I'd need to counter sink the washer and self locking nut. I'd fasten the two pieces of blocking together with construction adhesive and cinched nails.

  6. Once everything is secure I'd put the square of gyproc back over the hole needing of course to make a spot for the eye bolt to come through. A little tape and mud and I'm good to go.

  7. desjardins link's idea about covering the bolt with a mock air vent is a good one. A mock light fixture might also work.
It should go without saying that the above suggestion is worth what you paid for it. Suspending a person isn't to be taken lightly and when things go wrong people can be injured or even die. All sorts of other things could go wrong during the installation including the risk of cutting through electrical cables, water pipes and gas lines. The fact that you are asking this question in the first place signals that you should probably get a contractor in to do the work or at least advise you. That person would give specific advice accounting for your specific construction details. Basically I accept no responsibility and you should get someone qualified in home construction to install the anchor point for you.

Even with a good anchor point rigging is a tricky and extremely unforgiving trade. You may be well versed in the requirements of how to do this safely but if not I'd advise you to read extensively before attempting to suspend a human. The first rule of rigging is "Thou shall control the load" and you essential never get a second chance. Gravity is a bitch and when things go squirrelly your load goes from suspended to on the ground in an eye blink.
posted by Mitheral at 1:34 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen it said here, but it's worth adding that should things go haywire in even a partial suspension, it can end up a full suspension (see: Vasovagal syncope, for one example -- positional stress is not to be underestimated as a high risk factor).

Beyond that, seconding what desjardins said about taking a class, or many, from an expert (or mentoring, etc, etc, not a book, not on teh intartubes, do it in person so you can get direct & immediate feedback about the safety of what you're attempting & what you should be doing instead to be safe) & what Mithral said about rigging being tricky & extremely unforgiving. This is really not something you want to fuck up at any point in the process.
posted by susanbeeswax at 1:59 AM on November 4, 2007

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