Dog sled

  • Advertise with us
Project by JamWhi posted 05-21-2012 08:01 AM 7745 views 5 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m a boy scout leader of a group of 12-14 year old young men and every year (my first year) scout troops in Western Washington participate in the Klondike Derby. A fun 2 day winter camp and competition in which the each troop builds a dog sled that, if they survive the night camping in the snow, they pull (no dogs… I think it’s an insurance thing…) through a series of events and end with a race. Anyway when we decided to participate this year I started looking at the provided dog sled plans and pictures of previous years sleds, somehow my pride wouldn’t let me/them build one out of PVC or 2×4’s so I started looking for a more traditional set of plans. Turns out not a lot of people build their own dog sleds, or the people who do don’t use computers, so I ended up drawing up my own plans from a few fuzzy pictures that I found online. Well despite the best laid plans and starting in Early Dec. for a Feb. 3rd event and after a lot of holiday events, vacations and paralyzing snow storms (anything over ¼ of an inch qualifies here) I ended up with a few compromises. Doing most of the work late as opposed to the young men doing all of the work, Oak and Maple that I could get at the local Home Depot vs. the planned Ash, glued up laminates vs. steam bending, etc. but in the end it turned out pretty well for my first, and most likely last dog sled.

Again info on building a dog sled was sparse so I don’t know how well it would hold up as a functional dog sled although it held up great to a team of young men pulling it around for 2 days.

I tried to go as traditional as I could, given that I have no idea what traditional is, so other than some stainless steel screws to hold the UHMW plastic runners in place, eye hole bolts to lash the sled to the runners and glue for the laminate bent pieces the sled is held together entirely by lashing.

I started by making jigs for the 2 runners (ski’s), handle, brush guard and 2 side rails which I then covered in painters tape and used to glue up thin (1/16”-1/8” depending on the radius of the bend) strips of oak and clamp in place with my new extensive collection of 6” bar clamps. I wasn’t sure how long I need for the glue to set given that my shop was on the cold side and my wife wouldn’t let me bring them into the kitchen so I played it on the safe side and left them for 2 days each. This was my fist bending project so I wasn’t sure how much spring back to expect but it turned out to be very minor.

Once I had the major pieces ready I cut the upright supports and cross members to fit, I used mortise and tenon’s for all joints and cut a ¼” wide slot on either end of the mortise’s which I used to anchor my lashings. The bed I made from ¼” X 2” strips of maple which were lashed down.

I don’t have my spray booth setup yet and there were a lot of pieces so finishing went a lot slower than I anticipated, I wasn’t really sure what was the best finish so I want with a simple polyurethane. Because of time constraints I only got 2 coats on, which I’m planning to fix at some point.

I lashed the thing together with black 550 paracord mainly because it provided a good contrast to the wood and looked more traditional. In the end it was a good choice as it gave the sled enough flex that it easily moved over uneven snow but was still really rigid.

The finished dimentions were 8’ long X 3’ high X 20” wide.

The project went together fairly smoothly although time consuming, I finished the last lashing a few hours before we left for the camp. I would have liked to do a few things differently like having the scouts do more of the work (they did get to help with some part of each phase so they saw how it was done), better finish, etc. and finishing a few of the “nice to haves” like a break but in the end it turned out very nice and the young men were very excited to pull it around.

Now I need to find a better use for it then hanging on my shop wall, my daughter wants to buy a team of huskies but my wife is not so excited. ?

Thanks for taking a look and if you have suggestions for the finish please let me know.


12 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3363 days

#1 posted 05-21-2012 08:06 AM

James that is some sled

A truly amazing build.

I take it you need some more clamps? LoL

Boxers make good cart dogs, you just need

wheels and your daughter would be in control

I suggest 5 Boxers.

as you can see very energetic.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3809 days

#2 posted 05-21-2012 10:00 AM

Great job. What was used for foot brake and anchor hook? Finished Weight? This is in the future for our Huskie-Australian Shepherd-Border Collie.

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3373 days

#3 posted 05-21-2012 11:03 AM

You did a really nice job on that. Too bad they want let you use dogs.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3743 days

#4 posted 05-21-2012 11:58 AM

The science channel had a program (How It’s Made) a while back that showed how they made dog sleds. Yours looks very much like the ones they showed under construction. How’d your troup make out against 2×4 and pipe tube sleds? Nice design and the lashings look good too.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View balidoug's profile


497 posts in 2985 days

#5 posted 05-21-2012 01:00 PM

I remember doing the Klondike Derby a looong time ago. Sled technology has changed a lot over the years. Quite a creation that.

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3592 days

#6 posted 05-21-2012 02:12 PM

I remember a few Klondike Derbies, although the snow was a little deeper and the temperature may have
been a little colder. We did not have sleds, but used snowshoes, cross country skis made from old/discarded
downhill skis with assorted and various bindings. It was fun and Hot chocolate was consumed by the
gallons. Hope you have lots more fun with that sled, thanks for sharing.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3199 days

#7 posted 05-21-2012 02:28 PM

Jamie, that’s a gorgeous dog.
I guess a man can never have too many clamps:) This is a wonderful sled!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View mmh's profile


3679 posts in 4229 days

#8 posted 05-21-2012 03:07 PM

A very impressive and cool project for a very noble purpose! I hope you will continue to enjoy the process of using your handmade craft with your daughter or even teach her some woodworking skills.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 2934 days

#9 posted 05-22-2012 12:18 AM

Your Boy scout troop is lucky to have a leader like you. They will long remember the build, and the lessons will stay with them through thier lives. Sounds like they had a lot of fun and got good excersice towing the sled, through the snow.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View T. D. Reid's profile

T. D. Reid

275 posts in 2851 days

#10 posted 05-22-2012 01:18 AM

I love your first picture; the dog looks like “there’s no way in HE double hockey sticks I’m pulling that thing”. Great job! Adding it to my favorites so I can build one in two years when my son crosses over. Cheers

-- Head to the shop its calling you – Todd

View JamWhi's profile


22 posts in 2716 days

#11 posted 05-23-2012 07:53 AM

Thanks for the feedback, it was a lot of fun to build. Before this project my wife used to come into my shop and ask why I needed so may clamps, after adding 60+ new ones for this I’m afraid to hang them up. :)

I ran out of time and didn’t get the foot break or the anchor hook done in time, I’ll have to add them at some point but someone would most likely have gotten hit with the anchor hook anyway so maybe it was for the best. It came in at 34 lbs., not sure if that is good or not…

As far as how they did in the race… now is the time for the excuses to come out… I want to say they took 3rd but it might have been a bit lower but they were one of the younger groups. They had a blast though.

They had a great time building it, I think it was the first wood project for all of them and we have done several since then, a group of us are working on recurve bows now so there may be hope for the next generation of wood workers. :)

My lab was interested in it until I got home from the camp, by then we had a few inches and I came outside to find the dog tied to the sled and my daughter yelling mush. She didn’t get too far so she had to resort to tying her 2 brothers to the sled which went a bit better for her. :)

Thanks again,

View Skyshark's profile


1 post in 770 days

#12 posted 09-05-2017 02:39 AM

So have you made any detailed plans? I’m looking to build my own also and running in to the sameness problems as you not finding much out there

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics