So back when I lived in Portland, Oregon for a few years, my friend and I were talking one day and he thought it would be cool to make a Slip and Slide that did a turn around our Fire Pit. Of course I said, "I can build that!" and that was it. A few months later we were going to have a 4th of July party (2012) and thought it would be a good idea to do it then. This is what happened...
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Step 1: Build It Cheap!
So obviously we didn't want to spend a lot of money (it saved more for Beer), so we used what materials we had on hand and could get for free and then bought whatever else we needed for cheap.
Instead of building it like a traditional skateboard ramp with plywood and support ribs, I came up with this idea to use 2x4's cut and built in a J shape and reinforce the corners with wood cut at 45 degrees. This helped strengthen everything up, but also gave a good point in the curve for me to screw in the this piece of wood on top. If I remember right, I just ripped down some more 2x4's to help create the curves. A few screws in place and it was good.
Step 2: The Layout
So I used Rhino to rough out a model of the curve and create a basic template of how the skin of the curve should work. Once I felt fairly confident about the shape I should cut out and the positioning I wanted, I laid out the profiles in the yard.
I decided that I could use 1/8" MDF to create the "Skin." It was super cheap and flexed how I needed it to. Since the 2x4's were so wide, I could cut out the MDF skin and connect the ribs by screwing the MDF straight into the them down the center point. Drawing a line down the center helped keep things lined up.
After cutting a test piece, it seemed to fit pretty well and was fairly sturdy. I opted not to put any horizontal support pieces since the 1/8" MDF got very strong once bent into shape. To make things easy, I cut all the MDF sheets the same and it kept the curve/spacing fairly consistent.
Step 3: Finishing the Curve
So I repeated the process of attaching the MDF across the ribs until the curve was done. The curve was slightly faceted and I wanted to smooth out the curve a bit. I was also a little worried about the screws I used to attach the wood catching on someone as we slid around the curve, so I added cardboard layers taped on the curve. It helped smooth things out, covered the screws, and also added some padding to the wood.
The 2x4 Rib made the whole curve slightly off the ground, so I used some more MDF and made a small ramp to easy the slide into it.
Step 4: The Entry Ramp
So when you run at a Slip n' Slide, there is always that awkward first jump into the slide where you launch yourself towards the ground. Sometimes that ungracious dive makes you land on body parts that cause pain. To help easy the effects of gravity I created an entry ramp that you would land on and help you slide into the Slip N' Slide. This was a simple 2x4 frame with some scrap plywood covering the top, and some cardboard for padding. It seemed to help a lot when we were actually using it.
Step 5: Wrap It Up!
I don't have great pictures of it, but we created a 14 foot splash pool at the end of the run. It was only about 3 inches deep as you can see in the picture and video.
My friend worked in construction so we ended up getting free black tarps to use to wrap the whole thing up. We wrapped and taped all the parts up and created the run. People say to use white plastic instead of black to avoid the heat. Not necessarily on top, but for your plants below. The sun heats up the Black Plastic quickly and can fry your grass underneath leaving unsightly Brown spots after. We left it setup for 3-4 days and everything seemed to be ok, but that's just a warning.
We thought pool noodles would be great to use as our safety bumpers on the exposed wood edges. $1 each at the dollar store and we cut a slit down the side and slipped them over the wood.
We used a hose with holes drilled in it and a modular sprinkler system to water it. Check it out in the video...
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Click to the video here. [Play Video]