Introduction: Homemade Dogsled
A fun way to exercise your high-energy dogs in the winter. All you need are old ski's, a metal tube chair, and some ingenuity.
Problem: I recently got a second husky dog, and needed a way to train the dogs as a team in a safe and fun way. Skijoring is an option, though I have concerns for the safety of myself and the dogs. I am unable to use traditional x-country trails with dogs (x-country skiers can be highfalutin) thus I have to use the wide network of snowmobile trails. These trails, of course, are trafficked by many motorized sleds, which means I must have very good control of my dogs (and my self) to avoid accidents.
Solution: A kicksled sturdy enough to be pulled by a few dogs and be handled by a 190 Lbs. male. The genesis of this idea came from a fellow Instructabler who had the genius idea of creating a kicksled using old downhill skis with their original bindings. I simply expanded upon his idea.
1 pair Downhill Skis with Bindings ($0.35)
1 Tube Chair (I don't suggest buying one, check your local dumpster)
$25 worth of machine bolts, lock-nuts, washers, screws, eye-bolts, and chain quick links
3' green treated 1"X6" board (mine was warped and thus in a dumpster)
1 16"X24" section of 55 gallon drum (hey, I got one of them out back!)
Some rope and bungee
A pair of Crutches ($0.35)
5' length of 1.05" Pipe (dumpster score)
2 greenhouse Cross Connecters
1 old Tire
The Base is a pair of downhill skis with planking between them. I started by jigsawing the shape of a downhill ski boot out of the 1"X6" twice (one for each ski) and inserted them into the bindings. Then I ran two 20" lengths of board across, connecting the skis together at the bindings (leaving a gap of 16" between the skis). The tube chair frame, after being disassembled, was wedged between the skis (a convenient width of 16") and mounted with machine bolts and lock-nuts under the boards (fig.1).
The Handle Bars were next. Using the 1.05" pipe, I extended the height of the tube chair by bolting the pipe vertically on either side. I then connected the two pipes with a third length running horizontally and cross connectors. The grips were made using the extension piece at the bottom of the pair of crutches (fig.2) in conjunction with the hand grips. These slide perfectly into either side of the horizontal 1.05" pipe. They fasten using the pre-mounted squeeze stoppers and a couple strategically drilled holes.
The Brake consists of an old tire with screws drilled through it. I first cut the tire using a sawzall with an aggressive metal cutting blade. Modern car tires have an incredible amount of metal in them under the treads. I cut along the side wall and only crossed the tread to cut directly across. I then bolted it the base and ran self-tapping metal screws through it at the other end for grip on the ice (fig.3).
The Foot Holds are very important, they serve the double purpose of gripping your feet to the sled for steering and keeping them out of the snow to reduce drag. I used the last of the green treated lumber to trace and jigsaw the shape of my feet. I then counter sunk the holes that would hold the lock-nuts into the footprints. Then I did the same thing on the bottom of both skis for the ends of the bolts and washers. They would then be flush on both sides, as to not create drag on the bottom of the ski, or get hung up on my boots. I was forced to cut off the tip of the foot holds in order to accommodate the opening of the bindings (these are weird bindings that have to flip backwards to open) in case I were to hit a tree or rock and throw a ski. Lastly, I covered the top with metal mesh and stapled it on to provide ample grip.
The Undercarriage keeps snow from accumulating on top of the sled and provides lift over berms. I began by cutting the shape I needed out of a 55 gallon barrel. Using a heat gun, I was able to flatten the rear section, but left the front curved. I then mounted it to the bottom of the base with deck screws and washers.
Update: After a good waxing, the sled rides like a dream. It torques enough for good handling on corners, but is rigid enough to ride safely. Both my dogs and I love it. I used the removable hand grips as a portable repair kit, in the event of a breakdown on the trail. I mounted an external frame backpack to the vertical frame to carry various ropes and supplies and keep them out of the snow. I also hung a small trail-axe from the side for the sake of tradition. The sled rides well on packed trails and roads, but does not handle any significant amounts of snow (greater than 2 inches). The next version will involve wheels in addition to skis and will have a ski base the same width as a snowmobile's to make riding in sled tracks a no-brainer. It could also be lighter; still figuring out how to shed a few pounds.
I'll be happy to field any questions, and thanks for reading