DIY Snowshoes




This weekend (02/05/2010) we received approximately 2 feet of snow.  For some parts of  the country this isn't alot of snow, but for the Washington DC, metro area this is enough to stop everything.  I needed a way to make sure if something happened (I have three kids and a wife) and I needed to get to the main road I could (since my absent HOA hasn't plowed the street at least once yet) or just an excuse to make something with my son.  I needed some snowshoes, every step I took, I sank into the snow.  I'm sure there are many ways of doing this, however this is what I came up with using the materials in hand.  While researching diy snowshoes, alot of the options out there involved street signs, or twigs.  I needed to be able to make a set of shoes without going to the home center, and using only materials I already had on hand.

For this instructable you will need:
  1. 2 x pieces of 3/4 plywood - cut to a 12" x 24" (I only had 3/4" plywood, you could use something thinner).
  2. Drill & 3/8" bit
  3. Saw: reciprocal, jig, circular, or Dremel
  4. String basic nylon, so long as it is strong (2 x 4' pieces)
  5. Simple knot ability 

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Step 1: Make Your Template and Cut

First, I needed a template, I went with a modified rectangle.  I had a sheet of foam board from one of my sons last projects, but one could easily use a sheet of newspaper or wing it.  I choose a template size of 12" x 24" that seemed large enough for me.  I weight approx 230lbs so I figured this would distribute my weight better than my size 14 boot.  The notches are all 3" from their respective edges.

I traced the template onto the plywood and cut.  I used a reciprocal saw, but a jig, circular saw  or even a Dremel would have been sufficient.

Step 2: Drill Holes for Rope

 This step was an approximation.  I actually drilled 8 holes this turned out to be 4 to many.  The position of the holes will be a preference.

I positioned the first pair of holes just below the start of my first lace on both sides of the shoe.

I positioned the second set of holes approx 1/2 inch in front of my arch.

Step 3: Bindings

This is the interesting part for me since I'm always trying to learn how to make anything more than a simple knot, even if sometimes that's all you need. 

I placed my shoe in the first loop, and set two simple knots to lock that fit in place.

For the next set of knots I used a simple knot on one end, and another knot that will catch on the first knot, giving a snug fit.

Step 4: Finish Shoes

 I hope you enjoy getting out in the snow.   I'll try and post a video.

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    13 Discussions


    i can afford plywood. my materials are a pizza box and yarn, i had seen kids on an episode of Curious George that had snowshoes made of cardboard and string. can u tell me how to make those snowshoes?

    2 replies

    Reply 8 months ago

    Okay so I could not find this episode and I am very concerned that you lied and did not see this on Curious George.
    Sincerely Concerned Person


    WOW, I suppose you could use pizza boxes. If you use the same pattern you will need something to provide support, understanding they won't last long with the water and paper mixing. I suppose you could use scraps of wood or hangers sandwiched between two sheets of pizza box. In my minds I I see two pieces of stiff material running along where the foot is positioned, with two pieces of this same stiff material running across connected with tape. Then sandwiching the whole thing between two pizza boxes, then the bright yarn binding holding each foot to each snow shoe.

    Good luck.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I would say yes, as I'm assuming they put some research into proper sizing. That would be a great way to go.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I built a pair of these, but I used a bungee cord for the back strap. I also screwed on a couple of 7-inch long strips of wood on the underside for traction.

    The snowshoes work great, but the large flat surface led to a significant buildup of snow on the top.

    I am not sure how to prevent this except perhaps to drill a few holes in the surface.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice project!  I hope you made a second pair and you and your son had a chance to try them out in the snow!  Snowshoeing is quite enjoyable, and is a great way to make the most of miserable weather :)


    9 years ago on Introduction


    here's another take from boy's life:

    These might be worth looking at for the toe cut-out and the binding used.

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I just finished a mod inspired by the boy's life article, I suspect these will work for someone who weights less than me.   They need less surface area to distribute their weight.  My design works for me @ 230lbs.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    yea, they've got wood strips like cleats to keep you from sliding backwards. I'd probably  put them on like a tractor tire / \

    Maybe I should have made these first. I'm still digging out from the same storm.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    they look good, but you need the toe cut out like is what mentioned by kill-a-watt in the comment above, for climbing hills.

    also something you might want to consider is routing horizontal groves down the bottom for traction. as well driling a few holes on top to let air through when you are puting ur foot down would help alot