Made popular by sporting events like ESPN's Winter X Games and athletes like Shaun White, snowboarding is an extreme take on skiing that includes extreme risks. A homemade foam pit can help alleviate some of the dangers of snowboarding, whether the athlete is racing down a half pipe or jumping off moguls on the slopes. These tricks can be dangerous, and should only be performed with proper training, supervision and safety measures in place. A foam pit can give snowboarders a soft place to fall while practicing new tricks.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Lumber (4" x 4" and 2" x 4" pieces recommended)
- Power tools or hammer
- Nails or screws
- Foam blocks (6" x 6" cubes)
- Foam or fabric padding
Select a location for your pit. It may be easier to build the pit on location, instead of building it elsewhere and moving it after construction. In order to properly catch the snowboarder, the pit should be placed at the location where the snowboarder would normally land a jump or trick.
Build the base for the snowboard pit. Use 4" x 4" lumber for the frame. This sturdier lumber is preferred over 2x4s, because it is able to withstand the impact of a snowboarder's landing. The pit does not need to be an exact size; more experienced snowboarders will need a smaller pit, while beginners should have a larger landing area. Place the 4x4s 16 inches apart on a solid, flat surface. Cover them with plywood, and secure the pieces with nails or wood screws.
Drill small holes into the bottom of the pit. These holes will allow for drainage from melting snow, brought into the pit by the snowboarder. Use 10 to 12 holes, equally spaced on the base of the pit. The larger the pit, the more holes will be needed. One hole for every 3 square feet is a good baseline.
Build four separate walls for your pit. Use 4x4s to frame the wall, and add 2x4s every 16 to 18 inches as stud support. Cut the studs and plywall to a height of at least four feet; any shallower than that, and the pit will not be able to hold enough foam to adequately cushion the athlete. Drill or nail each wall onto the base individually, making sure the entirety of each wall is flush with the entire length it runs with the floor. Use a framing square to ensure the corners are true right angles (90 degrees), and avoid any gaps or holes between the walls as you place them together.
Line the pit with a waterproof tarp or liner. Add foam or fabric padding to provide additional cushioning. This padding will act to protect the snowboarder's body from coming into direct contact with the wooden frame.
Purchase foam pieces for your pit. Select foam with a density of 1.5 to 0.771 Kilogram per cubic foot. Cut down on costs by buying one large piece of foam and cutting it into smaller pieces; 6" x 6" blocks of foam are recommended. Use enough foam material to fill the pit to the top.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid cheap foam. Foam that is less dense than recommended will not provide enough cushion and support to protect the athlete.
- Use high quality lumber to construct the frame for the pit. Using smaller lumber than recommended, or lumber with structural flaws, can create a pit that won't be strong enough to support the weight of a snowboarder's impact.
- While a foam pit can protect a snowboarder against injuries, it should never be the only line of defence. Do not use this pit without proper supervision.
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