Last Saturday saw a fairly large dump of snow in London. Like many, I had neglected my dad duties and hadn’t got hold of a sledge. Let’s face it, it’s showed twice in 15 years (or something like that) so it’s maybe not considered one of life’s essentials. However, having been caught out and the shops seemingly running dry, I set about making one.
So, with a few tools, a spare estate agent sign and 6 minutes of bodging we had ourselves one of the best sledges I’ve ever used.
Now I should explain why it’s so good, and also explain what it isn’t so good at. It’s not got rails, so isn’t any good for whizzing down hills as it’ll spin like mad. What it is good at is dragging around flat areas (as it glides easily), stunts, jumps, going sideways and it’s absolutely awesome at donuts. You can even drag your kids over piles of logs and other people’s snowmen! Loads of kids in Cherry Tree Park asked where we got ours from, offering their swanky ‘shop bought’ sledges at us and muttering “these are rubbish”.
So thought I’d share how I make them.
- Estate agents sign. We had one left over from a school fair advert. Don’t steal one!
- Plank of wood or similar.
- Large drill bit (8-10mm) and a small drill bit (4mm)
- Strong electrical cable or rope
- Cable cutters or something to cut the rope
- Few wood screws
- A wood saw
- Vice or something to help you drill the wood.
Time needed: 5-10 minutes
Get all your stuff together! Remove the estate agent sign from the wooden pole (obviously) and split it into two pieces (front and back… again, obviously). You’ll get two sledges from one sign.
Cut 2 pieces of wood to a length that would fit across the width of the estate agents sign. Mine are about 40cm. Then drill two large holes (10mm drill) in ONE OF THE PLANKS ONLY. Like so. Not too close to the ends though.
Then use the small drill (4mm) to make some more holes for the screws. Again, ONLY IN ONE OF THE PLANKS. I made 5 holes. If your piece of wood is not as wide, just drill 3 holes along it’s length.
Cut a piece of rope or strong electrical cable about 50-60cm long and thread one end through the large hole and tie a knot in it. Doesn’t have to be a particularly good one.
Do the same with the other end. Should look something like this. This will be the bit your kids hold onto when they’re on the sledge.
Now do the same with a much longer piece, about 2.5m-3m long. This is what you’ll be pulling it with, so don’t make it too short. Tie the same knots in the ends.
Now for that other bit of wood. Get your estate agent sign and lie it flat. Put the plain, undrilled piece of wood at the bottom, about 3cm (1 inch) from the end. Put the drilled and threaded plank on top and line it up with the bottom plank.
Pull the knots through a bit (a few cm) and make them poke out from under the wood. In this photo, they are visible behind the plank.
Now screw the top plank to the bottom one through the small holes. Make sure the screws are just long enough to secure the bottom plank but not long enough to poke all the way out of the bottom. Heaven knows the trouble you’ll be in if your kids come home with scratches from protruding screws!
Should look something like this.
And now you have your new, zero-emission, 100% free, totally recycled stunt sledge.
Keep the front up: Seeing as there’s a plank of wood under the sledge, you need to keep the front slightly raised. Your kids can do this by pulling their mini-rope handle or you can do it as you pull them. Either way, if they are too far forwards and lean on the wood, you’ll find the going a bit tough!
The Donut: The best stunt on these sledges so far is the donut. Just get up a bit of speed on some flat snow, then stop, pull the sledge past you then just swing it around in a circle. You hardly have to work at it but your kids will be hurtling around sideways. They’ll have to lean into it and slightly raise the leading edge to stop them digging-in and getting dumped on their bums but they’ll learn pretty fast. For those of you into motorbikes and cornering, you’ll know the score. Advanced / fit parents my want to attempt the figure-of-eight extension to the donut. Tests your kid’s direction changing skills.
The Stump Jumper: There are a few logs from felled trees in the woods. These sledges will go over them pretty well too. Just hop over the log, pull the front of the sledge up and just drag your (hopefully grinning) child over. And repeat.
The Step Master: Just head for a few shallow steps or a kerb and well, go down/up it! Obviously, one or two is fine… 30 steps from the top of the local shopping centre isn’t fine.
DISCLAIMER: Use your head. This is a bit of fun. If you hurt yourself or anyone else, it’s your own fault. I’m not responsible for people with a lack of basic common sense. And don’t steal the estate agents sign!