Introduction: Wrist Guards for Everyone! Use for Skating, Skateboarding, Snowboarding, Extreme Sports, or Even Carpal Tunnel
Okay, so you'd probably be safer and better off buying a pair of wrist guards but where's the fun in that? I grew up skateboarding around the neighborhood with friends and part of the fun was in making things like ramps and decks -however shoddy they were. A lot of us kids didn't have much money in our pockets but we had access to our dads' tools and whatever scrap wood and construction materials they had laying around. Heck, in a couple hours, all the neighborhood kids can have a set of wrist guards for basically next to nothing. So here's a DIY that amounts to a curved piece of plastic strapped over your wrist and provides some protection from nasty falls that might injure you.
Hack Saw (or something to cut the pipe)
Rotary Tool aka Dremel (an electric drill could also work)
Heat Gun (Mom's oven will work too but you'd better not ruin it or there go your meals and your backside. Better yet, ask her to help.)
Thick Gloves or oven mitts
1" Webbing (you can take it off old tie-down straps). Shoelaces or cord will also work.
Sewing machine or needle & thread
File or sandpaper
Step 1: A Plastic Brace
Find some 2 inch PVC pipe (heck 1" would probably work for a smaller kid). I found mine in my PVC junk pile out in the backyard. I'm sure one of your friends around the neighborhood has one too. Size it by holding the PVC pipe against your arm and measure from the the crease in the middle of your palm to about 2" past your wrist. Hold the pipe down and cut off the amount you need. Now use a straight edge to mark a line down the center of the pipe and cut it lengthwise (cutting one side at a time will make it easier) so that you have two long pieces that will end up being braced against your wrists.
Step 2: Shaping the Brace
Lay the PVC pieces on something that won't burn (concrete driveways work great). Carefully use a heat gun to really heat up the two pieces. Don't completely melt them! Step on them with your shoes once in a while or push on them with a stick to make sure they'll be soft enough to flatten. And when they are, turn off and put aside the heat gun, then take something nice and flat (like a piece of wood) and squash them down hard. Hold it for a couple minutes and you'll end up with two nice flat pieces.
Put on some big thick gloves. Welding or fireplace gloves are ideal but you can use cooking mitts if that's what you have. Hold up one of the plastic pieces to your wrist. Get an idea of the shape you want. Ideally it will go from mid palm from where the hand bends, curve around the heel of the palm, and then rest against the forearm. Once you've got a good idea of where it will curve, lay one of the PVC pieces down, start up the heat gun and concentrate the heat in that area. Don't overdo it or the PVC will start to roll back to it's original shape and you'll have to re-flatten. Just get the area warm enough to where (with gloved hands) you can force the curve you want by bending and molding over the heel of your hand. This may take a few tries and that's okay. When you're happy with the bend, hold it till it cools enough that it stays. Do it again for the other piece and make them as similar as possible while all the time taking care not to burn yourself or the anything else.
Now if you don't have a heat gun, this can be done in an oven set at 350 degrees. Get permission first or you're going to be in a world of hurt. DO NOT let it melt/burn! A light browning on the top is okay and you'll know you're pushing it. Keep a close eye on it the entire time and test, test, test by opening the oven and pushing on the PVC with a wooden stick. For flattening the pipe, leave it for about four to five minutes. For shaping the curves, it should take less than half the time.
Step 3: Finishing Your New Wrist Guards
You'll need to cut four 1 inch long slits into the plastic brace so you can securely attach the webbing which will hold it to your arm. Use a rotary tool with a small cutting wheel and make the slits wide enough for the webbing to slide through easily. ALWAYS use eye protection! Having a piece of plastic or part of the rotary bit fly into your eye is not good. And put on a dust mask or at least cover your mouth and nose with your shirt so you don't breath in all the PVC that will be turned into a fine dust. If you don't have a rotary tool, you can use an electric drill to make several holes very near each other and then use the spinning drill bit to grind it all out to create the slits. While you're at it, use the file or sandpaper to smooth out all edges and corners so it doesn't irritate or cut into your skin while you're wearing it.
If using cord or shoelaces, it's even simpler. Just drill four holes (one on each corner).
Run your webbing or cord through the holes and measure out how much you'll need by test fitting (measure twice, cut once). Better to leave the straps long enough so that you can tie the guards snug with a few slip knots. I played with several variations of how to attach the brace to my arm and found the simple and straight forward method of one strap on top and one on bottom worked best for me. If you want to get fancy or are smart enough to take another opportunity to bond with your mom, sew velcro to your straps for quick on-off. Take pride in the fact that you've made something pretty cool and useful with your own hands.
Also don't forget the rest of your protective gear. And flip flops definitely don't give good grip!