On this Sunday, October 22nd, 2017, I woke up with one goal in mind.
The Saturday night prior, I stayed up late searching to find the correct pieces and their respective locations in the store to save myself some time and avoid forgetting some essential items. As the sun rose, I skipped my routine trip to the skatepark and instead opted to head down to my local hardware store around noon. After two hours of wandering around trying to find suitable materials, I was finally ready to head home. A few minutes gathering tools and a couple of hours of relatively hassle-free construction later, I completed the project I had begun just hours before. Forget painting this thing! I had to get out and skate it to see if it would even work. I was afraid the hollow steel tube would not be stable, but it held up well to both slides and grinds!
What an incredible feeling to shred something that YOU built from scratch, using your own two hands, let alone when the thing you created performs optimally! I was surprised things turned out so well because I do not have much construction experience. The extent of my knowledge came from two pitiful boxes I made a while back out of recycled and available wood around my house. The internet was also a big help; I read through and learned about an assortment of related information throughout my construction process.
Overall, I’m delighted with this <$100 build. It’s sturdy, relatively light for its length and as a result, portable. The slightly angled walls allow you to slide right onto and off of the rail with ease. When I don’t feel like slides or grinds, I rotate it and use it as an obstacle to Ollie or (attempt to) Wallie over. Depending on your choice of grind surface (round or flat), some tricks may be more comfortable and some more difficult.
There is no one size fits all for DIY; you make it how you want it! It all starts with an idea.
This guide will teach you how to construct an extremely simple eight-foot rail in four steps.
Table of Contents:
0:12 – Materials
1:02 – Step 1: “T-Shape”
1:42 – Step 2: Assembling the Base
2:19 – Step 3: Drilling holes & Attaching Metal
3:53 – Step 4: Cutting & Attaching Plywood
5:00 – Skating the Rail
6:02 – Filling the Gap
In case you don’t have the required tools, you can buy everything you need here!
To start, the tools you need are a drill/driver (buy here) and a circular saw (buy here).
The required materials are two treated 2x4x8, one 2x6x8, (Two 2’x4′ pieces) ~1/2″ thick plywood, 8oz 2 1/2″ Flat Head deck screws, 8oz 1 5/8″ Flat Head deck screws, and a surface to grind. You’ll also need a 3/16″ and a 3/8″ drill bit suitable for metal.
I chose this steel bar with a gap because I knew it would be easier to attach without as much drilling.
We’ll fill this gap in the end purely for aesthetics. I didn’t include the materials used in that part because it will differ depending on what you choose. For the most part, we’ll focus on the construction itself.
You can accomplish this in less than six hours with little to no experience. The hardest part, in my opinion, is getting a straight cut on the plywood; but that won’t affect the stability as long as one edge rests against your surface.
Getting into the construction: For the first step; take both of your 2x4x8 pieces and align them in a “T” shape with the bottom piece resting on its side and the top on its face. (I am doing it upside-down in this video.)
Make sure everything is even on both sides, then drive a 2 1/2″ deck screw into the top center of the “T” about two inches in from the edge, down into the 2×4 resting on its side.
Go to the other end, make sure everything is centered once more and drive another screw two inches in from the edge to secure the 2x4s in place.
Drive more screws down the length as you see fit, trying to keep an equal distance between each. I aimed for ~16 inches, adjusting the distance to keep things somewhat even.
Moving on to the second stage: After your 2x4s are screwed together in a “T” Shape, take your 2x6x8 and lay it flat on its face. Flip your 2×4 “T” shape construction upside-down and position it in the center of the 2×6. Make sure everything is centered; then drive a screw straight down into both sides of the bottom 2×4 resting on its face, into the 2×6 below it. Go to the other end, straighten things up and drive a screw into both sides to secure the base.
Repeat the same thing throughout the entire length on both sides of the construction. Again, I aimed for ~16 inches but deviated to keep things consistent.
The third task is preparing and fixing your grind surface to the construction. You’ll most likely have to drill holes in the grinding surface. I chose this steel bar with a gap because it was the most simple thing available. This choice eliminated the need to drill through the top and drive a screw through the narrow opening. However, I did still need an extension bit. You can probably find one in the same place as you get your other materials if you don’t have one already.
If you must make a hole through the top to drive a screw, you’ll want to use a 3/8″ metal drill bit. On both ends, drill through the top only, not through the entire piece. The 3/8″ hole should be just big enough for the screw head and your bit to pass through. To prepare the holes that will secure the rail onto the wood construction, switch to a 3/16″ drill bit. On both ends of the metal, passing the smaller bit through the holes you just created in the top, finish drilling the holes entirely. This 3/16″ hole is just large enough to thread in a 1 5/8″ screw, but not large enough for the head to pass through.
After your starter holes are drilled, center your grind surface on the top of your wood construction. Put a 1 5/8″ screw through the top hole of one end and begin driving it into the wood construction, stopping when the head is snug against the metal. Go to the other end and repeat to fix the metal surface to the wood. Now that everything is together; continue to drill the remaining holes using a 3/8″ drill bit for the upper and 3/16″ for the lower part that holds the screw. I added them every 12 inches just to be safe because this piece will bear the most of the weight and suffer the most abuse.
For the fourth step: we must cut and attach the plywood to the sides of the entire construction using 1 5/8″ screws. Measure the distance between the bottom of the wood construction and the bottom edge of the grinding surface. With this number in mind, measure and mark on your plywood where you should cut. Remember: you can always sand or cut any extra, but you’re out of luck if you cut too small. Measure twice, cut once. If you’re using 2-foot by 4-foot pieces of plywood, you’ll need to cut two pieces to cover each side: a total of 4. You should have plenty of material to spare if you measure and cut correctly.
After you have your cuts of plywood, turn your rail on its side, press the straightest edge of your plywood cut snugly against the edge of your grind surface and begin driving 1 5/8″ screws into the construction behind it to secure it in place. I used six screws in total for each piece, three on the top and the bottom. You can use four if you prefer but I was ready to skate at this point!
Finish attaching the plywood sections then you’re ready to shred! Double check everything to make sure it’s stable, there are no rough edges on the metal and take it out for a session!
Filling the Gap
I found a piece of wood that fits perfectly in the channel of the steel bar. After sliding that in, I added shims to ensure it wouldn’t click around or slide out while I’m skating. These steps will also prevent the rail from buckling inward.
There’s still a small gap which I filled with similar but smaller pieces of wood. These pressure fit and shouldn’t affect the metal grind surface. Before adding these, I noticed the sharp edges were eating up my wheels even though they wouldn’t get stuck so this should remedy that problem.
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Benjamin ‘SkateJam’ G. – 12/2017