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No sled? Make one! Maybe the kids will even let you use it.


Two years ago I built, a sled because the kids didn't have one. Since then, they got sleds and I commandeered the one I built for chores (and so I can race them).

The sled is simple, rugged, goes fast, will handle several hundred pounds and is a cinch to build. And it's cheap!

My initial design had brakes installed. These were wooden levers. They were more of a pain than they were fun. If the sled were for pleasure only, they would work fine, but for out in the sticks with a load of firewood, they snag on everything. The remedy may be to mount the brakes on the board of the frame, however the sled would need to be wider than my version.

The ingredients

* 1- 6' or 8' 2 x 8, 10, or 12 used, 55-gallon drum, plastic

* A handful of 1-1/2" cad plated or painted wood screws, plus a heavy rope

* Some 1" boards and 3-1/2" bolts if brakes are desired

The tools

* A saw (I used a chainsaw but choose your own, a circular saw is not the tool for cutting the barrel).

* A large (brush burner) torch or a heat source (campfire) would work.

* Some string (optional).

* A screwdriver or drill. A way to auger two rope sized holes.

First, cut the barrel. The top and bottom make dandy feed or water bins. Cut carefully. The center "ring" will be cut as wide as the sled will be. Often, barrels have rings that can serve as a guide. (Figure 1.)

Now cut the ring into a sheet by cutting once vertically. The sheet will want to coil up.

Now for the framework. Take the 2 x 8, 10, or 12 and draw a runner out. Cut the first runner out, lay it upon the leftover piece and make a duplicate. (Figure 2.) 2 x 3 x sled width. (Less the thickness of the runners) braces.

You probably have runners that are shorter than the sheet of plastic at this point. If the sled is too long, it will be difficult to turn. Four or five foot long is plenty. Trim to fit. Construct the frame (Figure 3), making sure the runners are parallel. The 2 x 3 at the 11 feet is inset because of the curvature of the front.

Now, the plastic is applied. Carefully heat the plastic. It will glaze when the temperature is right, and take on a shine. The point is to make the plastic moldable, not light it on fire or melt holes in it! Wear gloves.

Working quickly, transfer the plastic to the frame, and set several 1-1/2" screws--there is no reason to pre-drill. You may need to reheat the plastic as you work form one end to the other.


Now, drill the rope holes in the wooden runners, run the rope through and knot it.

My sled is 15" wide, total. I think 20" might be better for firewood, as the sled sinks and the wood catches the deep spots. Rear uprights or side stakes may be added, too.

Brakes are cut out like Figure 4. You will need two of these!

If used on a side-incline, the sled tends to side-slip a bit. Some thought might be given to adding a double thickness of plastic beneath the frame so a "runner" is developed. Or, you can just anticipate it.

My sled has handled over 400 pounds of 20" maple rounds over very rough terrain. So long as the frame is knot-free, yours should be able to handle weight, too.

My sled also has a habit of throwing snow in your face if you are bombing through deep unpacked snow. A lip might be designed to prevent this.

P.S. Make sure the barrel's former contents were safe and not flammable. Mine contained grape juice.






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Title Annotation:Homestead family fun
Author:Black, Kevin
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2010
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