How to Build a Wood and Leather Water Ski




Introduction: How to Build a Wood and Leather Water Ski

About: I'm16 and in my free time I control cockroaches, weld, make canoes from duct tape, 3D print, make helmets, light big pieces of wood on fire, and other awesome stuff

On both water and snow I've been a skier most of my life and I've seen my fair share of lost skis.:) After almost losing another ski while on vacation I decided either we had to wire a GPS to them or make a pair of skis....... as you can probably guess I chose the latter.

Also, it would be amazing if you could vote for me in the wood contest and the leather contest, just click on vote in the upper right corner then hit vote. Thanks!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

  1. 2x8 pine
  2. Small piece of maple
  3. three countersunk wood screws
  4. 15 button-head screws
  5. Veg-tanned belly leather
  6. Leather conditioner (snow-proof weather-proof)
  7. Wood glue
  8. dowel rods
  9. A ski to copy
  1. Reciprocating saw
  2. Band saw or scroll saw
  3. Radial arm saw or table saw
  4. Coping saw
  5. Drill
  6. Palm sander
  7. Sand paper
  8. Router
  9. Clamps
  10. Bucket of water
  11. Hand plane
  12. Smaller bucket of water
  13. Box cutter
  14. Scissors
  15. Printer

Step 2: Cut Out the Outline

First I got a water ski (Body Glove Contour) and traced it on the 2x8. I then used the reciprocating saw to cut the rough shape. Next, I used a scroll saw to touch up on the cuts.

Step 3: Carve Out the Insides

For this step I used various chisels and gouges to carve a shallow trench in the bottom of the ski. It's probably not needed but hey, I was bored.

Step 4: Kerf It!

I then used a radial arm saw to kerf the ski 10 times with every cut spaced apart a couple millimeters. Though looking back I probably should have done more cuts spaced farther apart.

Step 5: Bending the Ski

I bent the wood with a four inch piece of wood on the tip and clamps next to the kerf. Though I used boatloads (pun intended) of glue I ended up using a couple of screws to hold the bend in place.

Step 6: Routing the Ski

Next, I used a router with a 45 degree bit on the whole ski. I wanted it to look smooth so I used a palm sander on the edges. Then I used a cutter bit and cut a the fin slot mirroring the slot on the "real" ski.

Step 7: Making the Fin

I used some leftover maple from my violin for the fin. First,I traced the fin on the "real" ski and then added an inch below the tracing. Next, I used a scroll saw to cut out the shape. Then I used some files and a handplane to sharpen the fin also, I found that a knife sharpener works quite nicely on the fin (though don't tell my mom.)

Step 8: Leather

Ahhh leather.... this is actually my first project involving leather so I first had to go buy some and as luck would have it there was a Tandy Leather store near me (read: an hour away.) When I arrived the employees pointed me in the right direction and I left satisfied. I know this sounds like an advertisement but the next time I am in the area I'm going back!

When I looked at the "real" skis' boot I ran into a problem: the leather isn't strong enough to back a heel cover but in the end it didn't make that much of a difference. To make the boot I got the leather and traced my template (file attached) on the suede side then I cut it out with a box cutter. Next I submerged the leather pieces into a bucket of lukewarm water for around an hour and then put it on a pair of shoes as a form. After they dried I sanded the edges and rubbed the weatherproofing into them.

Step 9: Put It All Together

First I spray enameled the top and bottom of the ski then I cut some dowel rods to the length of the leather "boot." After that I drilled 4 holes in the dowel rods for the front "boot" and 3 for the back "boot." Then I mirrored where the "boots" are from the "real" ski and then screwed in a couple of buttonhead screws where I drilled the holes.

Step 10: Go Ski!

Once I finished I took it out skiing! The first couple times I tried to get up on it without a second ski but I couldn't quite do it. I had to get a second ski and get up then drop the other one though once I dropped on I was actually quite nice. There is only one thing that I would change and that is; the front boot became flimsy so I need to put more weather proofing on it.

Also if you find a GoPro or a licence plate at the bottom of a reservoir you know who to contact :)

Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Participated in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Wood Contest 2016

Participated in the
Wood Contest 2016

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    6 years ago

    Nice! This is so impressive. High five from me on this great project!! :)


    Reply 6 years ago


    Do you do any waterskiing/snow skiing?


    Reply 6 years ago

    I used to snowboard a lot when I was younger, but never really snow skied. Been waterskiing a few times. Good times! :)