Introduction: Building a Toboggan


I am currently building a bent wood toboggan. I will take you through the steps to successfully make an toboggan out of ash.

Step 1: Cutting the Slats

After selecting straight grained 8/4 Ash, I crosscut the piece to 72" long (Longer if you want a longer toboggan.

Then, using a thin kerf blade on the table saw, rip the slats to 5/16" thick.

Cut 8-10 slats(I used 7, but cut extra in case of breaking during bending!), depending on how wide you want your toboggan to be.

Step 2: Soaking.


I have found that pre-soaking the slats in water for 2-3 days greatly increases your success rate while bending.

Step 3: Steaming.


The slats now need to be steamed, you can make a steam box out of many different materials. You can also produce your steam in any number of ways. We built ours out of 2x10 spruce and we use an old electric kettle for our steam.

Insert into steam box and steam for 30-40 minutes.

Step 4: Bending


It is now time to bend your slats around a form. The form we use is made from a piece of PVC water pipe. It allows us to bend multiple slats in one session.

Work quickly and be careful, steam can give you a nasty burn.

Let sit in the form for several days.

You could use a moisture meter to track how dry the wood is.

Step 5: Building the Cross Members


Cross members and can now be cut. Mine were 1 1/4 x 5/8 for the deck members and 1 x 2 for the top cross member.

Any hardwood will do, I even saw a company build them out of small branches flattened on one side.

Pieces are milled, rounded over(router) and sanded.

The Top cross member has a 1/2" groove routered into it to receive the slats.

Step 6: Assembly


Step 7: Finishing

After careful sanding, we applied two coats of exterior grade spar varnish.

Open the doors or do this step outside!

Step 8: Rope

We started at the top and and used a nut and a washer for backing, we also melted the ends of the knot to prevent slipping.

It was threaded through the cross members and attached to the back member.

We the used the back member to apply tension to the rope attaching the piece while applying tension.

Step 9: Tow Rope


Holes were drilled and 1/4" nylon rope laced through and tied.

We used washers and nuts to stop the knot from pulling through.

Step 10: It's All Down Hill From Here!

Time to get outside and fly down the hill!!!

On second thought, give it to a kid and save a trip to the hospital.

Comments

author
ChrisB392 made it!(author)2016-04-02

I am looking for a pipe similar to what you used here, but wondering if a piece of sona-tube would work? They are pretty rugged, but wondering it the wood bend would be too much for them....??.... any thoughts?

author
gregrjohnson made it!(author)2016-01-16

I built one. I used brass hardware and glued the slats on to the cross pieces. I made a jig from mdf and pine because I couldn't find sewer pipe. I followed the rest of this plan and the toboggan came out great. I finished with three coats of real (not urethane) spar varnish. Once it dried (takes over 24 hrs power coat) I waxed the bottom with hot snowboard wax and an iron. It is by far the fastest and longest runner on the hill! Super easy to pull the kids around on too!

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author
Koubiac made it!(author)2016-01-18

Awesome! It has been a lot of fun for our family as well.

Stay Safe!

author
E.+TimothyU made it!(author)2014-12-01

This is fantastic and my son and I would like to follow in your footsteps. Does the grain of the wood matter for bending?

author
Thnxcya made it!(author)2013-03-04

Cool. I need to do a project on this

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bschless made it!(author)2013-01-08

I just finished building two toboggans (pix included below). Couple of comments...I used very green white oak (sap still running out a knot!) for the slats (couldn't find ash). I used one 10" and one 12" plastic sewer pipe for the molds. 1 hour of steaming. I never got the amount of bend I would have liked (at least 180 degrees would have been fine and 270 would have been great!) because I didn't properly secure the slats in the molds when I started bending. Also, make sure each slat is parallel to the previous one (and perpendicular to the mold) or the tobog will be "skewed".

author
gabes_us made it!(author)2011-12-21

Great instructable, just what I was looking for. I am thinking of trying to make a toboggon for my children and have a couple of questions if you don't mind. Did you use kiln or air dried wood and what is the diameter of the PVC pipe used in the jig? Thanks.

author
bschless made it!(author)2013-01-08

Definitely use green wood. Go to your local water department and ask them for pieces of 10" or 12" plastic sewer pipe for the jig/mold.

author
Koubiac made it!(author)2011-12-22

I used kiln dried, although everyone tells me you shouldn't. I soaked the wood for a week in a garbage can full of water before steaming.

I used a 10" pipe to make this one, but have also used 6 and 8" pipes to make toboggans. (10" works best)


Enjoy building it.

author
bschless made it!(author)2013-01-08

I just finished building two toboggans (pix included below). Couple of comments...I used very green white oak (sap still running out a knot!) for the slats (couldn't find ash). I used one 10" and one 12" plastic sewer pipe for the molds. 1 hour of steaming. I never got the amount of bend I would have liked (at least 180 degrees would have been fine and 270 would have been great!) because I didn't properly secure the slats in the molds when I started bending. Also, make sure each slat is parallel to the previous one (and perpendicular to the mold) or the tobog will be "skewed".

author
tobogganist made it!(author)2012-01-31

If you're looking for hills to test out those toboggans, you can check out http://tobogganhills.com/ for a map of local hills, and also add hills to the map for others to locate and enjoy. :)

author
TimmyMiller made it!(author)2012-01-01

good idea, except you might get sued by the kids parent, though still very, VERY funny, man

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TimmyMiller made it!(author)2012-01-01

ROTFLOL : ) | : D | ; P

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vincent7520 made it!(author)2011-12-31

Shouldn't the slates be glued together after being shaped ?
Or did I miss something ?

Great Inst' anyway.

Happy New Year !…

author
roboguy made it!(author)2011-10-31

This is a gorgeous build! One comment, though. I would suggest that you shorten your carriage bolts a little and use acorn nuts instead. That way, you won't have those sharp bolt threads exposed to cut up your mitts or skin on a cold day.

author
Koubiac made it!(author)2011-11-03

I have cut an polished them off since making the instructable. Good tip about the acorn nuts, I'll do that for the next one I make!

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putipa made it!(author)2011-10-31

very nice !!!!!!

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nsnip made it!(author)2011-10-22

Nice! All ready for winter!

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friger made it!(author)2011-10-20

Great Job, I really liked how you used the water pipe for a form, this was a brilliant idea. Considering a wooden toboggan sells for over $100.00 Canadian, and they are not very well made at that price I would think you easily have a $200.00 product there.

author
zazenergy made it!(author)2011-10-19

Wowsa! Great first Instructable! Featured!

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Koubiac made it!(author)2011-10-19

Thank you, I really enjoy the instructables website.

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