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While commercially produced sleds still have their place, many sledding enthusiasts are making cardboard sleds to save money and express their creativity. The beauty of making a sled out of cardboard is that it does not require any expensive materials or tools, yet the possibilities are endless. While cardboard and duct tape are necessary to create a snow-worthy vessel, other materials used are entirely at your discretion.
You can modify an existing cardboard box into a sled or you can make a sled by attaching cardboard panels together. In either case, try to use wax-coated cardboard for the exterior surfaces of the craft so that it will last longer. Use duct tape to connect pieces together and hold things in place. Cover the exposed edges of the cardboard with duct tape to reduce the amount of moisture penetrating the cardboard. Superglue and heavy-duty staples are also helpful for connecting pieces of cardboard together. For complete overkill, cover the entire sled in a water-sealing paint and let it dry before use.
Most sleds are essentially rectangular cubes with a pointed or chisel-shaped nose. If starting with a cardboard box, slice through the vertical walls on both sides of the front panel. Push the panel back to the desired angle and tape it in place with duct tape. Crease the side walls in line with the sloped front panel, fold them over and tape them in place to reinforce the nose of your craft. If you are building the sled out of panels, make the side walls sloped at the front, and then lay the front piece on top. Backs and sidewalls are not strictly necessary for sleds, but they do help keep the rider – especially young ones -- inside.
If you want to turn heads on the neighborhood sledding slopes, you must decorate your sled. Markers and crayons are hassle-free choices for youngsters, but older kids and grownups may prefer paint. Do not limit your decorations to two dimensions -- consider adding racing flags, numerous short pieces of yarn, tinsel or streamer paper to the back to accentuate the speed of your sled as you race down the hill.
The best additions to your sled are those that improve its performance and “wow factor.” You can cut a disposable Styrofoam cooler into panels and use them to improve the comfort of the ride, or you can fill the interior with old throw pillows. Consider using the lid from a large plastic storage box to make a windscreen. On the other hand, if you really want to take your sled to the next level, make a full top from cardboard, cut a window at the rider’s head height and cover the opening with plastic wrap.