Intro: Homemade Stilts
I have been wanting to make a large monster costume for Halloween for awhile now. I looked into getting some drywall stilts bet found they were $60 or more. I figured I could make my own for cheaper than that and get the pleasure of making something cool.
Here is the link for the final costume: 7' Monster Costume
Step 1: Planning & Materials
I decided that making my stilts out of wood would probably be the easiest. knowing also that I wanted to end up being a 7' monster I world on planning out sizes of the stilts. I measured the size of my foot wearing a shoe as well as the length from the bottom of my foot to the bottom of my knee. I also took some time to look at the basic design of drywall stilts to make sure they were safe and sturdy. I drew out a simple plan and figured out what madrigal I would need. I had to make adjustments as I went along to improve the design, but it worked out pretty well.
4" PVC coupling
4" PVC cap
nuts and bolts and washers
short and long screws
2" nylon strap and buckles x2
2 old leather belts
Step 2: Cutting Foot Stand and Bottom
Once I had my measurements, I cut my 2x6 to length. On the past where I would stand I traced my feet (while wearing shoes) so I would have a good sense of where to place the support bar to my knee. To make sure my stilt was sturdy I wanted to interlock the wood a bit. I notched out the wood where the support would go for that using my table saw.
On the bottom pieces they needed to be rounded to make walking a little smoother. Again I used my table saw for this setting the blade at an angle. I the dremmeled and sanded those cuts to make them rounder.
Step 3: Add Tire Tread
I went to a tire store and asked if they had any old tires they were going to throw out. They abliged readily and so this was free.
Cutting tires is difficult since they are lined with metal threads. I began cutting with my wood saw until I got to the metal. I then utilized the hack saw to finish the cut. The sides of the tires don't have metal so it was much quicker to use my hand saw to remove the tad from the side. Once I had two strips the right length I placed them on the wood. I used short screws to attach them and get the rounded edge right.
After they were secured I used the hack saw to cut off the excess tire around the edges.
Step 4: Connect Supports to Stand and Bottom
Cut the 2x4s to the right length and screw them in. You can kind of see in the picture how I notched the back one for the leg support. Make sure these are in the same place on each stilt.
Step 5: Add Metal Support
This is one step that I had to make a change in the design. As seen in the first picture, the metal strip is a single piece. As I started to test it I quickly realized that this was too wobbly and would not be safe enough. I late switched to a sturdier 90° angle piece that wouldn't move at all.
I then used a 4" PVC coupling cut in half for the piece that would attach to my leg. Using a heat gun, I formed it to the shape of my calf.
Once the right shape is accomplished I drilled holes in the PVC and attached it to the metal with the nuts and bolts. Make sure this is positioned right below the knee on the calf. This is what really creates the stability of the stilts when walking.
Step 6: Toe Straps
It is very important that your feet are securely attached to the stilts. For the toe, I used leftover pieces of tire tread. Make sure they are positioned correctly and tight enough before screwing them in.
The second strap goes over the top of the foot by the ankle. This is where the belts came in handy. I got them at a thrift store for $1. Cut the buckle end first so that the buckle is on top of the foot. Screw it in at a good angle. Then put the other end in the buckle and measure where to cut to keep the strap right. Cut and screw in.
Step 7: Heal Stop
Without a heal stop my foot would keep slipping out making it hard to walk fluidly. So, I got a 4" PVC cap and cut it in half. I then marked where the back of my foot tested when my feet were tightly in the straps. I screwed the PVC in at that position. This worked very well and made all the difference.
Step 8: Leg Strap & Padding
On each side of the PVC coupling I cut a 2" slot to run the nylon strap through. Make sure to sand the holes to have a smooth surface for the nylon. I then ran the straps through and applied the buckles.
As this is strapped tightly to the leg I want it to be as comfortable as it can be. I used some EVA foam to cover up the bolts and make it a smooth soft surface. Hot glue worked great for this.
Step 9: Strap Them on & Try Them Out
These work very well. I am quite pleased with how easy it is to walk and how stable they are.
I look forward to how they will work for the monster costume for Halloween. In the meantime, my wife will have me doing "tall" jobs.