How to Build a Small Simple Wheelchair Ramp

Written by evan town
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Wheelchair ramps enable people with mobility issues, or people pushing strollers, to access buildings and spaces. They can, however, be expensive to purchase. Building your own wheelchair ramp may be an economical solution to purchasing one. Strict federal and local guidelines govern the process of building wheelchair ramps and should always be consulted before beginning the process. Follow the steps below to build a small, simple wooden ramp 6 inches high, 6 feet in length and 4 feet wide.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 1 piece of wood, 1 inch by 4 inch, 8 feet long
  • 4 pieces of wood, 2 inch by 4 inch, 8 feet long
  • 1 sheet of 3/4-inch plywood, 4 foot by 8 foot
  • 2 sheets of 3/8-inch plywood, 4 foot by 8 foot
  • 1 sheet of Masonite or Skatelite, 4 foot by 8 foot (optional)
  • 1.81 to 2.72kg. of 2 1/2-inch wood screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil of chalk
  • Radial saw
  • Power drill with screwdriver bit

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    Cut the Sides

  1. 1

    Use a pencil or chalk to draw the sides on the 3/4-inch sheet of plywood. Start by measuring down the long edge of the plywood sheet. Make a mark at 6 feet. This will be the bottom edge of one side of the ramp.

  2. 2

    Use the t-square to measure 6 inches directly above the previous mark and make another mark. Draw a straight line from that mark down to the corner of the plywood sheet forming a triangle that is 6 feet long by 6 inches high.

  3. 3

    Use the saw to cut this triangle out of the plywood sheet. This is the first side of the ramp. Use it to trace another triangle out of the same plywood sheet. This will be your other side of the ramp.

    Build the Structure

  1. 1

    Cut the 1 inch by 4 inch into 4-foot pieces so you have two pieces. Starting from the bottom, take the pencil and make marks every 8 inches along the slope of the sides. Screw the 1 inch by 4 inch pieces at the first two marks starting from the bottom. Use two screws per side. These are the joists--horizontal supporting members that run from side to side up the centre of the ramp. The joists at the front of the ramp should be placed horizontally and flush to the ground.

  2. 2

    Cut the 2 inch by 4 inch pieces in half making a total of eight, 4-foot pieces. Take your 2 inch by 4 inch pieces and screw them into the sides, two screws per side, at every other mark.

  3. 3

    Add an extra 2 inch by 4 inch joist to the bottom, back corner of the ramp. This will give the ramp increased strength and durability.

    Add the Surface

  1. 1

    Measure 6 feet along the 8-foot edge of one of the 3/8-inch plywood sheets and make a mark. Measure and mark at the same distance along the other side and draw a line between the two marks.

  2. 2

    Use the saw to cut along the line and you're left with a sheet of plywood that is 4 feet x 6 feet. Lay this sheet over the second sheet and trace it. Cut the second sheet. If you plan on adding a final layer of Masonite or Skatelite to smooth out the ramp, use this sheet to trace a line on the sheet and cut it as well.

  3. 3

    Screw the plywood sheets and Masonite or Skatelite to the ramp. Place the first plywood sheet over the skeletal structure and, using wood screws about every foot or so, screw the sheet to the 2 feet by 4 feet joists. Add the second sheet of plywood following the same procedure and then the finishing sheet of Masonite or Skatelite.

Tips and warnings

  • You may add a back to the ramp by cutting a 6-inch by 4-foot piece out of your 3/8-inch plywood scraps and screwing it the back of the ramp.
  • Check the guidelines issued by the Americans with Disabilities Act for specifics on ramp construction.
  • Call your local department of planning office to see if there are any local laws governing wheelchair ramp specifications and to obtain any necessary permits.
  • Always consult and follow the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and local laws when building a wheelchair ramp.
  • Consider hiring an expert to build the ramp.

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