How to Make a Dog Sled

by Gabriella Sannino

There is nothing as much fun as building a dog sled with the kids, especially if there is a competition coming up, or when you are really into the sport of dog sledding, so lets learn how to build a dog sled. You will love using a sled you built yourself, and the memories of having built it will last forever.

The following are the steps you need to take to build your dog sled:

Get a large 2x10x16 foot board. You can use birch, oak, ash or hickory. This is going to be your most expensive piece, but you want to choose a wood that is going to last you a long time. Once you have the piece you need, then you need to cut the following pieces out.

Get the runners - two 2” x1” x8 ft pieces which you are going to use as the runners.

Cut two 1”x1”x8 ft pieces for the rails.

Cut the slats -- 7 ¼” to 3/8” x 2” x 8 ft. slats which will be used for the sled bed

Cut the Handle bar -- 4 to 5 ¼ inch strips that are 6 feet long and 3/4” wide which you will need for the handle bar.

Building the Steamer

The Next step will be to steam the wood, so you can bend it without it cracking. You can make your own steamer from a couple of old steel barrels.

Cut one in half along the length of the barrel.

Cut rectangular holes in the end of the other (large enough to draw the wood pieces through).

Start a fire in the halved barrel. Be sure to have cut a hole on the end so you can push firewood through.

Place the second barrel with the holes in it on top of the halved barrel.

Put water into the barrel with the holes in it. Fill it almost to where you have the cut rectangular holes then you are going to put the pieces of wood that need to be bent into the rectangular holes with the areas that need to bend on the inside of the barrel.

Cover any open areas of the holes with rags so that the steam is kept in the barrel. Sometimes it takes as long as 4 to 5 hours before the wood pieces can be bent without it cracking.

Bending the wood

Before you steam the wood pieces you need to have built some bender molds for the handlebars, slats and rails. You can build these from whatever wood you have lying around. Make sure that the curve is a little deeper than the one you want for the runners because the runners will straighten out a little after you take it out of the mold when it is dry. You’ll probably want about a 15-inch rise in front.

Let the bent parts dry. Then you want the bent parts that are in the mold to dry for a few weeks and during that time you can work on the other parts which need to be cut a little oversized and can then be made flush when you finish.

Get the stanchions cut -- You will need three pairs of these. Cut 2” wide by 1” thick and about 36” long, but cut them just a little longer than what you need. The second pair needs to be 27-inch long and the third pair 18 inches, but each pair should be just a little longer and can be cut down later. Round off the bottoms of the two longest pairs. And two inches of the shorter pair. The longer ones need to fit through the false runners and the short pair has to fit through the runners. Go ahead and sand sharp edges and the sides with a belt sander.

Cut your front Cross piece -- This needs to be wedge shaped and 20 1/2” long and 2” wide. One side of it needs to be ¾-inch thick and the other under a ¼-inch thick.

Cut your 4 cross pieces – these need to cut 1”x1” and 21” long which is the width of your sled.

Cut your false runners – cut tow of these in 2’x1”x 4 feet long. The fronts need to be cut at an angle.

Cut the braces.

When bent pieces are dry. Take the pieces out and sand them. Don’t round the runners or the false runners but you can go ahead and round the edges of all the other pieces

Putting it togetherPut the false runner on the runner and make sure that the back edges are flush then drill three holes in different areas to bolt them together. These bolts need to be 3/8” x 4”. You want to leave between 24 and 30 inches to stick out behind the stanchions. Mark the place where the stanchion will go with a pencil so you don’t place a bolt where you want to place the stanchion.

Place the small stanchion on the front a couple of inches above the curve and let them angle back. When you know where you are going to put the front and rear stanchions, you need to place the middle stanchion as close to halfway as you can get and it needs to fit into the false runner like the rear stanchion. Place the first bolt near the front of the false runner, one in the middle of the stanchions and one towards the rear of the runners.

Items you will need

  • 2x10x16 foot board.
  • Old Steel barrels
  • Rags
  • water

Tip

  • That’s all there is to making a dog sled. Once you have assembled in then you are ready to have all the fun in the world. After all, "The more fun you have, the greater your value to yourself and to your society. The more fun you share with others, the more fun you have."

About the Author

An Italian citizen with over 20 years in the Internet business, Gabriella Sannino knows a few things about marketing and communication. Graduating from the University of Texas in the mid '80s, she moved to New York to work for a small advertising agency. While there, she became fascinated with how people were interacting with new the new technology… the Internet.