If you don't have a skatepark in your area, building a small half pipe on your property may be your best alternative. You don't have to know much about skateboarding to build a half pipe, but you do need to know the basics of construction. This is a complicated project best taken on with the help of an assistant.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 2-by-6 beams, cut to 8 feet long
- 3/4-inch plywood, 4-by-8-foot piece
- Right-angled tool
- Pen or pencil
- 4-by-4 beams
- Nails or screws
- Joyce hangers
- Hand or circular saw
- 1.5-inch-diameter metal pipe
Find a location to build your half pipe. It will be easier to construct your half pipe on or near its ultimate destination, so you can avoid moving heavy pieces into place later on. Look for a flat location, preferably on a solid surface such as a concrete driveway or patio.
Build the base for the half pipe with treated 2-by-6 lumber. You can also use 2-by-4, but the larger the lumber, the stronger the final project will be. Use a right-angled tool to make sure the corners are perfectly square. Place additional beams every eight inches along the interior of the frame to act as "ribs" for the base. Using screws, rather than nails, generally results in a stronger half pipe.
Lay the treated plywood horizontally (meaning the 8-foot end is lying at your feet) on a flat surface. Measure 6 inches up from the bottom of the 8-foot end and 1 foot in from the board's left end and mark this spot with a pencil; this takes into consideration the fact that your base will stand 6 inches tall and eliminate any lip between the base and the ramp. Draw a vertical line from that point to the bottom of the plywood.
Draw the slope of the ramp by placing a 2-by-6 beam measuring 7 feet tall vertically along the plywood, so its top 3 feet are hanging off the top of the plywood. The outside edge of the beam should match up with the line you drew that is 1 foot from the board's left edge. Attach a 6.5-foot-long string to the top, inside edge of the beam; affix a pen or pencil to the free end of the string. Stretch the string so it is taut, placing the pen so it is at a 90-degree angle with the plywood. Start along the bottom, inside edge of the beam and drag the pencil in an upward arc (keeping the string taut) until you reach the top edge of the plywood. Remove the beam and connect the line you drew previously to the arc you just drew, following the same slope.
Cut along the lines using a hand saw or a power saw. Cut and discard ten inches off the top of the plywood. This will give you a flat surface at the top of your half pipe. Use the piece you just cut out (which will form the base of the ramp) as a template, and trace on to three more pieces of plywood --enough for two ramps.
Stack all four ramp bases on top of each other, so their edges are flush. Mark every eight inches along the base (the flat edge of the plywood that will rest on the ground).
Attach a joyce hanger at each of the marks, so the hanger is 6 inches below the edge of the sloped portion of the plywood -- this will result in the joyce hangers following the same slope as the ramp. Make sure to attach the hangers so they are affixed to the inside of the plywood on two pieces, and to the outside on two pieces; this will leave you with two matching sets.
Place 2-by-6 beams measuring 8 feet long into the joyce hangers' open slots. Screw the beams into place, so they do not wiggle within the hangers.
Build the platforms, where you'll stand at the top of each ramp. You'll repeat this step on each ramp. Screw a 2-by-8 into the top inside of the ramp. The length of this beam can vary depending on how wide you want the platform to be; typical is 24 inches. Use a level to make sure they are perfectly horizontal. Connect the two beams using an 8-foot-long 2-by-8. Use a right angle tool to make sure the corners are all 90 degrees.
Drill 4-by-4s into the inside corners of the framing. As an optional step, you can attach an 8-foot 2-by-4 to the top of each beam to form a bench or hand rail. Insert 2-by-6 beams, 2 feet long, every 8 inches along the inside of the frame. These beams should run perpendicular to the rest of the beams used so far.
Use 1-by-6 decking beams to build the surface of the platforms. Nail or screw the beams into place along the top of the platform.
Lay down three sheets of 4-by-8-foot, 3/4-inch plywood over the base of the half pipe. Lay down two pieces horizontally, side by side; lay the third piece down perpendicular to the first two. You can use two layers of plywood for extra stability, with the top layer of plywood in a different pattern than the bottom layer. Drill all the pieces into the frame.
Lay the 3/4-inch plywood onto the ramps. Place the first layer down horizontally, and drill into the base (the edges of each piece of plywood should match up with one of the 2-by-6 beams that compose the frame). Start drilling closer to the bottom of the ramp, and work toward the top. The plywood has enough flexibility to gradually bend as you go. Lay down the second layer of plywood vertically, so it does not share seams with the bottom layer; drill into the base. Cut off any excess plywood that may be sticking off the top of the ramp.
Cut two pieces of 1.5-inch-diameter metal pipe to a length of eight inches each (you can have these pieces precut when you purchase them from your local home improvement store). Place each pipe along the seam where your ramp meets the platform. Use a metal drill bit to drill every 8 inches along the pipe. Attach the pipe to the beam at the top of the ramp using screws. This metal piece is called the "coping," and gives your skateboard an edge to grip on to at the top of the ramp.
Push all three parts of the half pipe (the two ramps and the single base) together, so there is no discernible seam visible between them.
Tips and warnings
- Apply tar paper to the plywood surface of your ramp between Steps 13 and 14 for extra weatherproofing. Use a staple gun to connect the paper to the ramp. You can also apply a layer of Skatelite on top of the tar paper; this layer is especially designed for ramps and will help your skateboard's wheels grip better on the surface.
- This project involves a lot of partner work -- you'll need someone to hold much of the wood in place as you drill and secure it.
- Always use hand and eye protection when using power tools.
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