Building a gym dog sled is not particularly hard if you or your friend knows how to cut steel and weld. A good dog sled will cost you about $200-300 plus shipping. Building it yourself should cost between $50 and $100, or possibly up to $150 if there is a minimum order quantity for the steel, say 3 meters per piece, but you’ll end up with lots of spare steel (maybe to build another 1 or 2 sleds). Read on to see how I built mine in an hour of steel shopping and an afternoon of building (as a true beginner at building), with my friend’s help.
- Metal Cutting Saw + Earplugs
- Welding Machine + Plus Safety Sunglasses and Gloves
- Tape Measure + Chalk/Pencil
- Angle Grinder (optional)
- Electric Drill + Jigsaw (optional)
- 1/4″ plate: 4″ x 80″ (for skis)
- 1/4″ plate: 20″ x 24″ (for center plate)
- 2″ x 3″ tube (3mm thickness): 78″ (for skis)
- 1 3/4″ pipe: 16″ (for center pole)
- 1 1/2″ pipe: 2″ (for center pole base)
- 1 3/4″ pipe: 20″ (for 4x handle bases, reasonable thickness)
- 2″ pipe: 72″ (for 2x handles, reasonable thickness)
- 2-3 cans of acrylic spray paint
Note: The final 2 pipes in the list should fit snugly into each other. The 2″ pipe can either fit outside a 1 3/4″ pipe, or inside a larger pipe. The center pole and center pole base also have to be able to fit inside one another.
Weaknesses in My Build
- My acrylic spray paint came off of the center pole after little use. Acrylic spray paint is an imperfect option, but I don’t know a better one.
- My sled gets bogged down in weeds in our grass even with little weight. More curved skis might fare better, but I would love to test it on artificial grass with a smooth and consistent surface.
- I haven’t tested it with heavy weight because of the bogging issue. I expect the strength will depend on the skill of your welder.
- It’s really loud on cement. I don’t know how to do special plastic skis.
- The oval holes in my center plate are badly cut with an angle grinder and drill. Maybe a drill for pilot holes and a jigsaw would be make more clean holes.
- Cut your 78″ of 2″ x 3″ tube into 2 equal pieces. Cut the ends off as angles, the more obtuse the better to avoid bogging.
- Cut your 80″ of 1/4″ thick 4″ plate into 2 equal pieces. Check it alongside your already cut tubes to see where you need to cut the end pieces off. Chalk the marks on. Cut each of the 2 pieces into 1 middle part and 2 small end parts.
- Weld the middle part of the plate to the tube. Weld the 2 end pieces of plate to the tube. Do this for both skis. Note: My friend and I didn’t do this, we instead cut a half thickness cut on the chalk lines and tried to hammer the plate into the angle. I expect cutting and welding is better.
- Weld your middle plate to the 2 skis.
- Weld your 2″ of 1 1/2″ pipe to the center of the plate.
- Your 16″ of 1 3/4″ pipe should slide on and off the welded center pipe, so it’s removable.
- Cut your 20″ of 1 3/4″ pipe into 4x 5″ parts and weld them strongly towards the ends of the skis. This is the point where your force is transferred to the dog sled.
- Cut your 72″ of 2″ pipe into 2 pieces for handles. They should slide onto the 4 handle bases so they are removable.
- Cut 2 ovals into your center plate so you can attach a rope and carabiner. A drill and jigsaw would probably work well, but we did it badly with a drill and angle grinder.
- Use your angle grinder to clean up any sharp shards/edges bits from your cuts.
- Use your acrylic spray paint on every part.
- Acquire some attachments like a strong carabiner, a car tow rope or another rope, some plastic end caps to put in the ends of the pipes, a sticker with your logo, a piece of rubber to put down on the center plate, a chest harness. Without attachments you can only really push it by the handles.
Considering that I have never build with steel before, and my friend had never seen a gym dog sled before but we still build a pretty good dog sled (with several minor issues that I hope you can improve upon), I think it’s a pretty easy project to complete.
I’d give mine a score of 75-80%. The biggest weakness is the paint job flaking off, if not for that it would be near a salable quality. Mine cost about 80% less than if I bought it from a shop, and the quality I guess is about 80%, so I’m happy enough.
I hope the write-up is helpful for some people.