Mini ramp: learn how to build a custom-made mini ramp | Photo: EightySixFilms/Creative Commons

In an effort to help all of our fellow skaters out there accomplish their personal dream ramp, Concrete Wave publisher Michael Brooke deputized Mike Leeds to photograph and document the process.

The result is the following condensed 20-point general guide. You can purchase ramp plans from your local skate shop or online from many sources.

This step-by-step guide is intended to fill in the gaps and point out some of the key areas Leeds found lacking in the plans and books.

1. Find a Mini Ramp Plan

Ask your local skate shop owner what plans they have or recommend. In my case, it was Joey McGuire of The Revolution, where I live in Wenatchee, Washington.

2. Define Measurements

After reviewing the recommended plans and/or books, start taking measurements for your desired ramp dimensions.

3. List the Materials

Next, make an extensive list of materials you will need, and start pricing before you start building.

Not unlike a home, half-pipes, bowls, etc., will cost more and take longer to make than you expect.

Mini ramp: you can purchase ramp plans from your local skate shop or online from many sources | Photo: Concrete Wave

4. Find a Friend

Also, before starting construction, contact and gain full commitment from at least one good, reliable, and available friend.

You will also need a few other friends to help whenever they can.

5. Know the Rules

You will also want to consider your local area. For example, are you renting, or do you own? How cool are your neighbors?

My advice is that the more you love and respect your neighbors, the more tolerant they will be.

Talk to your insurance agent in advance and have an attorney draw up a liability waiver to protect you and your investment.

In the state of Washington, as long as you're not charging a fee, anyone injured using any recreational equipment or field is using it at their own risk, and the property owner is not responsible or liable.

6. Clear the Ground

Now that you have done your homework and are ready to get down to the building, you will want to prepare the ground.

This includes clearing the area, leveling, and putting WeedGuard down if it is grass or dirt.

If you have the funds and ability to pour a concrete pad, that's even better.

7. Study Your Plan

At this point, referring to your chosen ramp plans is next. Again, I found there are a variety of approaches and techniques.

As Joey reminded me, there is more than one way to skin a cat. So, my focus now is to help you with the gaps and missing information.

8. Choose Your Radius

Let's start with the radius of the transition.

Your desired height of the ramp and how much space you have for decks will help you determine what you really want.

Also, who will be riding it - you and your hardcore friends or your young kids and mellow friends? I opted for a happy medium - a 6 1/2' radius and 9' of flat to go with it.

My decks are about 4' deep all the way across both sides.

9. Safety Comes First

The majority of the ramp is 3' high with an 8' wide section at 4' high.

Even though it is just a mini ramp, I chose to put rails on the back and one end of the decks.

The obvious reason is for safety, but also to protect windows and keep kids and boards from going into the neighbors' yards.

10. Set the Copping

A critical part of the whole process is setting the coping.

Depending on how much you want it exposed for pop on the front edge and locking onto grinds from the top will help you decide.

A little bit goes a long way, so fine-tune it closely and ride it a few times before permanently securing the decks.

11. Measure the Wood Sheets

Your ramp's sheeting in relation to the coping is also important. As the old saying goes, ''measure twice and cut once.''

Lumber is expensive, and you want tight seams all across the flat, tranny, and on the top next to the coping.

12. Invest in Waterproofing

While you're spending the time and money on building your mini ramp, make sure to allow for enough cash to waterproof the surface and to purchase a large, super-heavy-duty tarp.

I researched and found Skate Paint to be the gnarliest for protection and providing a skateable surface - not too slick or tacky, basically like a gymnasium floor.

You just need to keep the surface clean, dry and swept, and it's all good.

13. Buy Quality Decking Screws

Yes, I used lots of emphasis here. If possible, don't use any nails; instead, purchase only good-quality outdoor decking screws.

Nails loosen over time and are much harder to remove. Cheap screws also break and strip out when installing or removing.

I recommend 3'' screws for framing and 1 3/4'' to 2'' screws for sheeting.

14. Consider Deck Rails

I added some heavy-duty plastic fencing on the rails of my decks.

It looks nice (available in several colors like dark green, black, etc.) and will help keep the kids and boards from going between the deck cross-braces.

15. Draw Chalk Lines

Be sure to measure and snap chalk lines to make sure your screws are hitting studs and so everything looks even and uniform.

DIY mini ramp: make an extensive list of materials you will need, and start pricing before you start building | Photo: Concrete Wave

16. Make Good Countersinking Holes

On your final layer of surfacing, it is most common to use masonite, also known as hardboard.

I used 3/16'' on my first ramp and upped it to 1/4'' this time for both strength and smooth riding.

Again, use chalk lines: measure, snap, and pre-drill with a countersinking bit.

Doing so will prevent damage to the surfacing and your knees.

Also, laying the surfacing at a 45-degree angle will help reduce wear and tear and buckling from the weather over time and will provide a smoother surface.

17. Taking Pleasure in Other People's Leisure

The last few things I learned - just like when you're moving, most of your friends seem to be insanely busy when you need them most.

But as soon as the project is complete, coincidentally, everyone is available for the BBQ and skate sesh.

Funny how that works.

18. Dictate the Rules

Post your rules and stick to them if you want to keep your ramp.

It's nothing personal. Everyone signs the waiver, follows the rules, and has a great time.

19. Family Comes First

If you are married with children, don't forget the family exists while your head is down building.

20. Be Grateful

Be sure to thank each and every person who helped in any way.

Without them, you wouldn't be skating, progressing, and ripping in your own backyard.

Mike Leeds, his wife Kaylene, and kids Stephanie, Tesah, Jakson, and Noah, reside in Wenatchee, Wash.

He works for Evergreen Home Loans and skates as much as possible with family and friends.

Mike would like to thank all of his family and friends, including right-hand man Casey Cooper, who helped with the ramp build, as well as local home builder Robbie Cannon and Lumbermen's.

Words by Mike Leeds | Skateboarder

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