Wood snow sled question

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Forum topic by DanBnTexas posted 01-12-2021 01:47 PM 376 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 12 days

01-12-2021 01:47 PM

I’m new on here, so forgive me if this has been addressed somewhere.

I am making a small all-wood snow sled for my granddaughters. I want to finish the sled runners in something that will hold up on the snow. I am using red oak for the runners. (I have limited local access to hardwoods.) Suggestions?

-- DanBnTexas

15 replies so far

View Murdock's profile


163 posts in 3458 days

#1 posted 01-12-2021 03:42 PM

I have built two wood sleds. The first used poly and in that experience the snow was pretty hard on the finish for the runners it just wore off in places. The runners themselves were maple if I recall correctly.

The second one I just waxed the bottom (didn’t have runners it was a flat bottom) and that seemed to hold up better but it didn’t get a ton of use and I reapplied each year, it is hard to compare since snow conditions can vary and the sleds were different designs.

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

View DanBnTexas's profile


4 posts in 12 days

#2 posted 01-12-2021 04:02 PM

Thanks Murdock.
I’m considering the use of Poly on everything but the bottom of the runners. I might try the wax on the bottom, as you suggest.

Alternate idea I’m toying with. Add aluminum half-round trim to the bottom of the rails, just to protect the wood from rocks and such.

-- DanBnTexas

View Phil32's profile


1244 posts in 877 days

#3 posted 01-12-2021 04:38 PM

Runner sleds are only effective on hard packed snow. Hard packed snow can be quite abrasive. Skis were originally all wood, but soon had to have metal edges to provide control in turns.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View mel52's profile


1857 posts in 1238 days

#4 posted 01-13-2021 04:58 AM

Can’t help you on your problem, but just wanted to welcome you to LJs. Mel

-- MEL, Kansas

View SMP's profile


3192 posts in 879 days

#5 posted 01-13-2021 05:03 AM

I’d suggest finding some white oak at least for the runners. And a block of paraffin wax.

View tomsteve's profile


1132 posts in 2193 days

#6 posted 01-13-2021 10:32 AM

this guy has a few artickes on maintenance and upkeep

View therealSteveN's profile


7009 posts in 1548 days

#7 posted 01-13-2021 12:20 PM

Probably a lot will depend if the sled is intended to have a person ride, and control it, or just sit on it as someone else pulls it along, like a toboggan.

For the toboggan almost anything will work short term, especially if it’s well treated. If it needs to last then White Oak as mentioned has much better properties than red oak as far as lasting outdoors, plus is much harder against friction.

Welcome to LJ’s

-- Think safe, be safe

View DanBnTexas's profile


4 posts in 12 days

#8 posted 01-13-2021 01:39 PM

Thanks for the welcomes, and the tips.

The sled will be for my small granddaughters. They live in Idaho, and from what I know, they’d be using it on unpacked snow.

Mel – Although I’ve lived in Texas since 2005, I lived in the Great Bend and Manhattan KS areas prior, and remember MANY snow days!

-- DanBnTexas

View Sycamoray's profile


49 posts in 214 days

#9 posted 01-13-2021 01:49 PM

Have you considered grabbing a pair of old skis for the runners? I made a firewood sled with three pairs of skis from the 70s/80s. Their edges are nearly parallel unlike the current crop, so it was easy to line them up. They distribute the weight well in fresh powder and shake off contact with rocks, etc.

View HokieKen's profile


16034 posts in 2112 days

#10 posted 01-13-2021 02:16 PM

I would try something like this tape if it were me.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Lazyman's profile


6359 posts in 2361 days

#11 posted 01-13-2021 02:32 PM

I think that I would just apply multiple coats of a good BLO finish and apply a heavy coat of wax on top. As needed the BLO can be more easily reapplied than a varnish which usually has to be completely stripped off. If you do want to use a varnish, a good spar varnish would probably be my second choice.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View SMP's profile


3192 posts in 879 days

#12 posted 01-13-2021 04:36 PM

For powder, i’d recommend more of a toboggan than a sled. Some white oak and a steam bender would be my choice. A sled with runners is going to sink into pow, especially at lower speeds. Something like one of these:

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3638 posts in 4412 days

#13 posted 01-13-2021 05:31 PM

I made a childs (baby) sled and posted it here in LJ’s bu the pictures no longer work for some reason, but I do have a video of the build that is working on youtube. Near the end It shows using a thin narrow strip of aluminum runner on the bottom of the oak runners that are the on the sled. It might help. They seem to have held up over the years.

The video is here...

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View bold1's profile


352 posts in 2821 days

#14 posted 01-13-2021 06:29 PM

Pine tar was the traditional finish for wooden skis. Heated and applied hot wiping off what doesn’t soak in. Usually with a good hard wax overcoat. I think most of the Scandinavian skis were made of Birch, but I’ve seen some made of Ash.

View DanBnTexas's profile


4 posts in 12 days

#15 posted 01-14-2021 02:59 PM

Thanks again for the ongoing tips and video links.

-- DanBnTexas

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