Introduction: Lightweight Sledge: Reclaimed

This sledge is light, fast and durable. It costs next to nothing and is a synch to build.

When it snowed I wanted to take my son sledging, but I couldn't find a sledge for love or money so I decided I'd make one.

The materials were fly tipped at some communal bins near my house; this sledge is constructed primarily from a reclaimed FOR SALE sign.

Step 1: Tools and Parts


1x discarded estate agents sign,
1x handful of screws,
1x handful of galvanised felting nails (tacks of some sort or other),
1x random softwood off cut -or something more creative- for the seat,
a bit of old rope,
a couple of eyelets: this is an optional extra!


Stanley Knife,
Tape measure,
Something to check your angles.

Step 2: Dismantle the Sign

This is straight forward, I used the screwdriver, hacksaw, brute force approach but you can choose your own method.

Essentially you want to end up with a few meters of softwood and two sheets of corrugated plastic. You'll only need one sheet, but the other will keep for decades at the back of your garage and can be used as a spare. Ideally the sledge should run in the same direction as the ribs or corrugation of the board, so the length of the board in this direction will determine the approximate length of the sledge. 

Step 3: Measure Twice, Cut Once!

Take your time measuring, marking and cutting. This isn't cabinet making and there is a margin for error,  but if your cuts are crap then your joints will be crap and your sledge will be too.

You need 2x runners which make up the length of the sledge frame and 3x shorter ones for which create its width, all cut from the timber which the sign was attached to.

The runners should be approximately 10cm shorter than the length of the plastic board in order to cater for the bend. If you want to do the job properly you can use this formula to determine the length of the runners:

L = N -(0.5xπM) where L is the runner length, N is the length of the board and M is the sectional width of the timber.

I didn't bother and just estimated my runners to 620mm and my three shorter lengths to 400mm.

You don't need to stick to these dimensions at all, I based mine on the materials to hand. The main consideration is that the length of  your runners are relative to the length of the board.  A length:width ratio of about 3:2 seemed to work well for me.

Step 4: Joints

Make sure you mark everything square and cut the joints quite cleanly. Two out of the three shorter lengths needs joints cutting into them at both ends, I used simple half-lap joints to give the frame some rigidity and get the job done with minimum effort.

If you're not familiar with this joint, it's really simple, as you can see in the picture you need to remove a section which is half the depth of the wood and the same width as it. Ideally use a tenon saw, if you don't have one any old saw will do, you could cut these joints with a nail file if you could be bothered.

The third short length doesn't require any joints cutting.

Step 5: Runners

The two longest lengths make up the runners. In order to create a decent profile on the front of the sledge you need to cut a curve. You should mark 90 degree arcs with a radius of something close to the sectional width of the timber (I drew around a handy cup).

I used a jigsaw for this and took my time. The timber is probably a bit on the chunky side for a hand-held jigsaw (the post which I used was abut 45mm in section), but these cuts need to be pretty decent so go as slow as the saw will let you (or obviously do whatever you want).

Step 6: Five Bits of Wood.

You should end up with five pieces of wood, they'll probably look something like this. That's the main bulk of the work done, next you'll assemble the frame.

Step 7: Assemble the Frame.

Lay the runners on the floor and slot the frame together before fixing any of the joints, if you've made any mistakes they should be obvious and now is the time to correct them.

Screw the thing together in the format you can see in the picture here. Screw from the top or the sledge down and set the screws diagonally towards the corners of each joint (these screws are the only triangulation you'll find in this sledge design!).

I used eight decking screws left over from another project. Its well worth drilling pilot holes for the screws and definitely check that everything is square as you go.

The central bar sits approximately in the middle of the frame.

Step 8: Skinning the Sledge

The next stage is to attach the skin; a low friction, semi-rigid, waterproof membrane sponsored by your local Estate Agent!

Turn the sledge upside down and lay the plastic boarding on top, make sure it's true and mark the underneath of board where it meets the sides of the sledge frame.

Again note that the corrugation runs the length of the sledge, we're going to bend the skin around the nose of the sledge against its artificial grain. You could probably do it with the grain, but you'd create less rigidity in the skin and more friction, also bending it against the grain forces the skin to bow into a gentle concave shape at the nose, between the runners (which again reduces friction and helps keep the sledge's nose out of the snow). All good; bend the plastic board against it's grain.

Step 9: Fastening the Membrane

Start at the nose and bang a few of the galvanised felting nails into the strut at the front of the sledge, make absolutely sure it's in the right place and hammer the rest in.

Working alternately side to side, start and the front and work your way to the back until its all attached. I've got to admit I rushed this a bit, it doesn't look as pretty as it could or should. Take care to really hammer the nails home, they should be countersunk and effectively squashing the corrugation of the plastic.

Once attached take a Stanley knife to the plastic and trim it into shape, again don't rush this; you're using the wood as a guide and don't want to bite into it with the knife, also you're minutes away from the slopes and you probably don't want to cut yourself.

Next trim the offcuts into two identical strips, attach these skis over the runners on top of the membrane to improve stability (an improvement to this design might be to fold the edges in order to produce the skis rather than using the off cuts).

Step 10: Seat & Sundries

Make a seat from anything you can find, I chopped up a piece of scrap wood and attached with some smaller screws.

You could probably do something here to improve the structural integrity of the sledge, but if your joints work the sledge doesn't need it and I didn't bother.

The only thing remaining is to attach a rope, I used some eyelets and some decent knots, but you could happily drill a couple of holes in the front, pass a rope through and knot it though.

Step 11: There You Go.


It works a treat and is suitable for adults and children alike, solo or tandem. It weighs far less then a pallet sledge so you can save your energy for the downhill fun!