Picture of Portable Wheelchair ramps
Quite frequently it is necessary to transport a set of portable ramps to allow my wheelchair to get into homes and shops.   In the past, I've tried to use store- bought manufactured ramps made of aluminum.  These store-bought ramps were very expensive and did not work well for my electric wheelchair as they were primarily designed for lighter manual wheelchairs.  The store-bought ramps were too narrow for the wheels on a power wheelchair, and the weight of the wheelchair caused them to dangerously bend.   As a result, my father built his own set of ramps that have worked very well for me and my heavy electric wheelchair, and are far cheaper and in my opinion more sturdy than the store-bought version.

Before you begin this Instructable, some precautions.  This ramp is not intended for use as a permanent ramp.  It is for use as a portable ramp for inclining one to a maximum of three steps in a situation where a more permanent ramp is not feasible.  When using this ramp, at least one abled body individual needs to be present to stabilize the ramp and guide the individual in the wheelchair up or down the ramp.  You must make sure the ramp is well secured or else the ramp could slip causing serious injury.  Use extreme precaution when using this ramp and ascend or decend the ramp slowly.  Use at your own risk.

1 - 2 Wood Beam joists depending upon length.  If using a single beam, beam must be at least twice the required length. (Typically available in standard lengths of 24', 28', 32', 36', 40', 44' and 48')
Metal sheet which will be cut into 4  pieces the width of the wood joist and approximately 6" in length.
2 Handles
18 screws
Drill gun
Tape measure
Triangle ruler
Marking pen or pencil

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My cousin just had a spinal injury, losing all feeling below his navel, so this is a really choice idea. His parents have begun remodeling the house to accommodate him once he leaves the center where he is undergoing physical therapy. Thanks for this.

Have your cousin check out Also "disaboom" info on the web. Also the Christopher Reeve foundation. All really good resources for individuals with mobility related disabilities. Cheers.

DarkRubyMoon (author)  fluentinsilence4 years ago
You are most welcome! I am glad this helps!
DarkRubyMoon (author)  fluentinsilence4 years ago
It makes me very happy to hear that someone will be helped by this instructable. My best wishes to your cousin.
milesnorth7 months ago

Very nice example of making something work! Excellent idea, Thanks! Am off to build a set :-)

MadeOfGlass4 years ago
this is a great idea but current ADA standards are different so for every inch of Rise you need a Foot of ramp. this is mainly for businesses at the moment but they are talking about adjusting the standards for peoples homes as well. A ramp that is 1 to16 is the suggestion for manual wheelchair users and 1 to 12 for power chair users.
DarkRubyMoon (author)  MadeOfGlass4 years ago
Thanks! Great info! The most important thing when it comes to the rise of the ramp is the angle that the person in the wheelchair feels comfortable with ascending the ramp. The ADA guidelines are a good basic measure to go by for personal use when estimating how long you need to make the ramp. Thank you again for that info. The source for my ramp rise came from a website that might have used a standard that is no longer current.

My late wife found going down the scary part! But yes, it's very much about personal comfort and individual chair capabilities, how their weight is distributed, etc. e.g.: a 6-wheel chair may lose drive traction at the bottom, or 4-wheel chairs may flip. Ask the person in the chair!

eruger9 months ago

I would like to reinforce the author's statement about this not being permanent! OSB, even with paint, cannot take the weather. It's intended to be inside the weatherproof shell of a home. I have seen a lot of ramps built from OSB in the last few years, and each and every one becomes hazardous within a year or two! The above (very nice) ramp is intended to be in place only while in use!

trogabird4 years ago
The 3/12 slope is for empty chairs only. They recommend a 2/12 slope for someone in a chair. This should be explained.
DarkRubyMoon (author)  trogabird4 years ago
Thank You! I will add this notation in the instructable.
pie R []ed4 years ago
I had to use a electric wheel chair at school for all of last year. I originally didn't have van with a lift, so I had too use a improvised ramp to get the chair into the car. At the time i was just using a 3' by 5' piece of plywood. needles to say it didn't work that well and the chair fell on the foot of a family member who was helping me. luckily her foot was not broken, but she couldn't use it for a few days. I wish I had found these instructions sooner. I would like to thank you for this great ible. I hope that it will help many feet.
merijnvw4 years ago
congratiolations with your prize!
DarkRubyMoon (author)  merijnvw4 years ago
Thank You so much! I didn't know I won till I read your message! Thanks!
And thank you very much too for your patch! Didn't you receive the message from Instructable telling you about your price? I got one, it directed me to a page where I had to enter my address data. You can contact the moderator if you haven't received one. bye
DarkRubyMoon (author)  merijnvw4 years ago
After I read your message, I checked my junk mail folder and found the moderator's email. My Yahoo must of filtered it. Thanks!
how would i do this different for use with a van?
If you wanted to convert your van to have permanent ramps you could use a sturdy door hinge and calculate the average distance of the needed ramp length. one side of the door hinge would be bolted to the floor of your van and the ramps would be bolted to the other side. the ramps would just lift up to a vertical position for travel. This would work best with a sliding side door.
i don't want to mount it permanently because we use more then one rig. something easy to pack around.
What about permanent brackets that attach to each of the cars and then you could use ramps that fit into the brackets. You could possible make the ramps telescopic to accommodate the different heights.
i don't want anything permanent on the van.telescopic sound interesting but out side my skill range. my main need it looks like is to make the ramps longer. the angle is to sharp and the front and back idler wheels hang up.i've seen some ramps online that fold in the middle.the hinge on the fold you pull up on the middle. i may try something like that next.
DarkRubyMoon (author)  robertblacksmith4 years ago
We actually used ramps exactly like these for a mini-van we had years ago. A couple of issues you should be aware of. This ramp is ideal for up to three steps, but the average entry height for a van is very close if not beyond this limit. My first concern is that the ramps could break. You should re-enforce the ramp if you are going to use it for this purpose as I would be concerned that the wood could not handle that much stress. Also, most vans have a large ledge at the entry of the door. We added a block of wood to the bottom of a ramp to rest on this ledge and also rest on the floor of the van. I'd recommend adding some sort of clip so these boards could not slip from where they are placed. A mini-van is much lower than a full sized van... your ramps would need to be very long, especially if the van is full sized. I had lots of issues with head room as I had to duck quite a bit to get through the door-way of the van... and I was not that tall. The ramps will add at least two inches of height as they will rest on the floor of the van effectively reducing head clearance by a minimum of two inches. While the ramps never slipped when I used them... I must admit... unlike using them on a level ground to get over one or two steps... to use them to get into a van is very scary. I was still quite tiny myself when I had to use them for getting in and out of the van, and I am a very good driver of my chair. I would not recommend if the person you need to get in and out of a van is an unskilled driver, has difficulty with steep inclines, or is very large. Ideally, if you plan to use these ramps to get a wheelchair in and out of a van, I would recommend you not do so with the person in the wheelchair. Sit the person in the car seat, then use the ramps to push the chair up into the van.
he gets in the van first and i and drive the chair into the van. i have a set of ramps,harbor freight, that worked fine for his scooter in a minivan but they're a royal pain with the much heavier chair into the full size van.the angle is steep and getting the ends of the ramps on to the van lip.not happy with the ramps at all.
DarkRubyMoon (author)  robertblacksmith4 years ago
With him out of the chair, these ramps should work fine. Based on my experience, they should be plenty strong for just a wheelchair to go up even with a heavy chair so long as the wheelchair has no occupant. My main concern was these ramps slipping with him on the ramp. This should work slightly better than most manufactured ramps for the purpose of getting the wheelchair in and out of a vehicle as I have tried the store bought version myself and found they where not really designed for a power chair. You will still have the same issue with the van lip, but it may be slightly less severe. In the picture attached, I show where an extra piece of wood should be placed for using this ramp for van use. It will still be difficult to drive the chair up the ramp. It is best to put the chair in manual and carefully push it up or back the chair up the ramp in reverse.
for van.jpg
DarkRubyMoon (author)  DarkRubyMoon4 years ago
Another side note: Unlike steps on a building, when using ramps on something like a vehicle, the weight of the wheelchair pushes down on the suspension of the vehicle causing the vehicle to shift slightly. This increases the risk of the ramp slipping which could cause injury.
ted4 years ago
Nice ible...I made a similar ramp for a friend out of plywood,but I added to crosspieces that join the two ramps to each other about 15 cms (6") from each end and set at the exact distance for optimum use of the wheelchair.Several advantages: The whole ramp unit can hang on the backrest by one of the crosspieces,thus no assistant is needed if a passerby is willing to lift it off the back of the seat, lay it down and then rehang it after use. The crosspieces add extra surface area on both levels, less chance of slip during use.There can be no spreading apart of the ramps during use when pavement or step is not level or even. BTW used 17mm ply (3/4"') throughout glued and screwed. Hope this helps someone out there. Ted Ps. crosspieces were about 12cm wide and screwed to the underside of the ramp.
DarkRubyMoon (author)  ted4 years ago
Fantastic! You should post as an instuctable!
dimtick4 years ago
This is a great idea to use a wood joist and use the top and bottom chords as wheel guards. Couple comments: 1. Wood joists are not designed for this kind of loading. For a short length ramp what you have shown is fine. For longer length ramps you should add a web stiffener. Cut a piece of plywood that is the width between the top and bottom chords (boards on either side) and make it the full length of the ramp. Glue and screw this to the underside of the ramp. This will make it twice as strong especially in the middle where the bending load is greatest. 2. At the top, you should add some metal plates on the side boards to keep the wood from splitting where it was notched. 3. Make sure you seal the ends . OSB plywood and the low-grade lumber, which is used for the top and bottom chords, are very susceptible to water soaking into the end grain, which can cause the them to delaminate and fail.
DarkRubyMoon (author)  dimtick4 years ago
Great suggestions! Yes, without adding a stiffener, one should not use this sort of ramp for more than three stairs. It is ideally suited for getting up a single step. My wheelchair is quite heavy, though I myself do not weigh very much. A larger person in a heavy weight wheelchair might require additional supports as mentioned for the increased weight load. Unfortunately, I do not know precisely the weight limits of such a ramp, so caution is advised. Thanks for the fantastic suggestions!
candogoods4 years ago
Thanks!  Please keep the ideas coming. You don't know how these ideas are going to affect the wheelchair community.
DarkRubyMoon (author)  candogoods4 years ago
That is wonderful to hear!  I'm still working on some fantastic new post for inventions for the disabled even though the contest has ended.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and my family has had to find many unique ways to solve some difficult problems with simple solutions.
Well written and illustrated Instructable!  I will probably be using a modified version of  this to help my partner get in and out of our house in the near future.  Thanks much for helping him be able to stay in our home (and to visit friends) for as long as possible. It will make him very happy indeed....
DarkRubyMoon (author)  ckoehler19044 years ago
You are most welcome!  It makes me very happy to hear that this instructable will help you and your partner.  There are many little tips and tricks me and my family have come up with for making our home wheelchair accessible that are not currently on any instructables.  If you ever have a question or need advice, please feel free to contact me.