How to Build a Roller Hockey Skate

Written by steve brachmann
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How to Build a Roller Hockey Skate
Building your own roller skates lets you customise your skate's ability. (Photo by Robert Meeks (License: Creative Commons Attribution))

Roller skating ranks as a favourite pastime for many. Whether playing a game of street hockey or just taking a leisurely skate at the roller rink, roller skates can be used for many different types of recreation. It is possible to make a pair of skates at home that you can use while at play. Not only is it often cheaper to build a homemade roller skate, it allows you to personally customise the style of your skate, from the design of the boot to the degree of control you want for speed or tricks.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Boot assembly:
  • Sneakers or skate boot
  • Roller skate mounting plate
  • Mounting bolts, nuts and washers (4)
  • Rubber stopper and bolt
  • Truck assembly:
  • Roller skate trucks (2)
  • Rubber cushions (2 or 4)
  • Cushion retainers (2 or 4)
  • Kingpin bolts and nuts (2)
  • Axle nuts (4)
  • Roller skate wheels and bearings (4)
  • Other materials:
  • Chalk
  • Sharpie marker
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Ratchet wrench
  • Wrench
  • Rubber mallet
  • Breaker bar
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Remove the insoles of the boots that you will be converting into roller skates. Turn boot upside down and line the mounting plate up with the centre of the boot. It helps to clamp or fix the boot upside down without having to use your hands or legs. The position of the skate plate determines much of how the skate functions, so approach this step carefully. If you are having trouble determining where centre is on your boot, put the boot on, find the gap between your middle and second toe (the one next to the big toe), and mark a chalk line going from the top of the boot to the bottom sole. Line up the centerline of the skate plate to this chalk line.

  2. 2

    Mark the position of the mounting bolts and nuts by marking the boot's bottom sole through the appropriate holes on the skate truck using your Sharpie. There should be one hole at each corner of the mounting plate. After you've marked these positions, remove the mounting plate from the bottom sole.

  3. 3

    Use your drill with the drill bit to drill through each hole that you've marked. Use a drill bit of the same size as your mounting bolts. Make sure the drill goes in firmly and cleanly. Be careful not to go too far and drill through the top of the boot.

  4. 4

    Put washers onto mounting bolts. Then thread mounting bolts through the boot's bottom sole going down through the boot. The washers will help distribute the pressure on your soles created by the bolt. Rounded bolts may help to further alleviate the pressure of bolts against your soles. Replace the boot's insole over the tops of the mounting bolts.

  5. 5

    Fit the skate plate over the mounting bolts. Use a rubber mallet to tap the skate plate and secure it more firmly to the boot's sole. When you're satisfied with the tightness of the plate, secure the skate plate by threading the mounting nuts onto the mounting bolts. Use your ratchet wrench to ensure that the nut is properly secured against the skate plate.

  6. 6

    Use your breaker bar to break the off the excess bolt all the way down to the nut. Use your hammer to flatten down the sharp ridges of the broken bolt around the nut.

  7. 7

    Fit the kingpin through the hole on the front skate truck. If yours is a double-action skate truck, make sure to fit the bottom cushion retainer and rubber cushion on the kingpin before threading the kingpin through the skate truck. After the kingpin is threaded through the skate truck, thread the top rubber cushion and cushion retainer over the top of the bolt. Thread the kingpin nut over that.

  8. 8

    Use both hands to tighten the bottom kingpin nut up towards the bolt while tightening the bolt into the skate plate. Make sure that the truck's pivot pin fits securely into the plate's pivot cup. When the bolt and nut are both hand tight, continue to tighten using a wrench to secure the bottom nut while using the ratchet wrench to tighten the bolt further into the skate plate. Repeat this step with the back skate truck.

  9. 9

    Secure the bearings into the roller skate wheels. Fit the wheels over the axle, making sure the bearing side is threaded over first. Use the axle nuts to secure the wheels to the axle. If the axle nut is secured too tightly, it will create friction with the wheel and will make the skates slower. Spin the wheel on the roller skate to determine if the axle nut is secured too tightly.

  10. 10

    Thread the stopper bolt through the rubber stopper. Use a screwdriver to tighten the bolt into the toe stop mounting block on the skate plate. Make sure there is no looseness in the stopper.

Tips and warnings

  • Although centring is important, the depth of the skate plate on the boot also impacts skate performance. If you want to be able to do tricks, position the front wheel closer to the balls of your feet. Outdoor skates position the skate plate closer to the base of your big toe for better stability.
  • Double action trucks have rubber cushions on the kingpin on both the bottom and the top of the skate truck. The extra cushion allows for more control, and is common on trick skates. Single action trucks have one cushion placed between the truck and the skate plate, and allows for more stability on non-flat surfaces.
  • Always use precaution when working with power tools.

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