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Building A Troop Rescue Sled - 2010 Design

1st Carlisle's Dog Sled, 2012
1st Carlisle's Dog Sled, January 2012

A year after attending our first Sunset Area Winter Camp, we decided that it was time to design and build a new generation of "dog sled" to compete in the Rescue Mission that was a big part of the Owen Sound camp.  While our old design worked well for what we used it for, we were concerned that the lighter-weight design would not hold up to the rigors of the Rescue Mission.  It was time for a new design.  To that end, 1st Carlisle Scout Leader Al Ernest took upon the task of coming up with a design for our new sleds.  Two sleds were constructed as Troop projects in January 2010, one for Carlisle and one for East Burlington.


Design Objectives: Since we use our sleds to carry gear at winter camps, we wanted them to be big enough to hold all our equipment.  That meant the floor of the sleds needed to be 2' wide to fit our action packer bins and about 4' long to hold our folding table and other long items. The sleds needed to be pretty lightweight, ours weighs in at about 25 lbs (11 kg).  Also, because we don't have much storage space we needed to be able to take them apart easily for storage. 

 Materials List:

  • sheet (4' x 4') inch marine grade or good both sides plywood.
  • 1 set old Cross Country skis, 200 210 cm long (6' 8 - 7'), bindings removed*
  • 1 old hockey stick shaft minimum 42 long
  • 21'  Spruce 2 x 2
  • 2 - 6' lengths of 1 x 2 (spruce, pine or hardwood)
  • 4' of spruce 2 x 4, or 4, 1' lengths
  • 12 - x 2.5 threaded hex head bolts (2 are spares)
  • 3 - x 3.5 threaded hex head bolts (1 is a spare)
  • 16 5/16   interior diameter lock washers (4 are spares)
  • 30 5/16 interior diameter flat washers  (4 are spares)
  • 22 -  2 or 2.5 x #8 Robertson decking screws (2 are spares)
  • 5 3 or 3.5 x #8 Robertson decking screws
  • 22 eye screws with 3/8 holes in eye
  • 30' heavy nylon cord and 40' to 50' of durable 3/8 or 1/2 rope
  • 2 carbiners
  • 1'5 wide cedar shims

 * Note: we used no wax skis as they work well in all snow conditions and require less attention.


Tools Required for Building Sled: 

  • Drill (cordless best)
  • Red Handled Robertson Screw driver or # 2 Robertson driver bit
  • 1/8 and 1/16 drill bits, plus counter sink bit
  • , 1/2 and 3/4 wood drill bit (spade bits)
  • hammer
  • Circular saw and or hand saw
  • Pencil & Measuring tape
  • Self priming outdoor paint
  • framing square
  • paint brushes, gloves, drop cloth and clean up materials
  • Workmate type bench
  • Safety goggles, scissors, duct tape sandpaper and matches

* Note: for group building activity it helps to have two or more of each tool, especially drills.


East Burlington's Sled Under Construction, Winter 2010
East Burlington's Sled Under Construction, January 2010

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Review safety procedures with scouts, demonstrate safe use of tools, including wearing safety goggles. Our scouts did not use electric tools except cordless drills.

  2. Cut 2 x 2 spruce into 2 42 lengths (rear uprights), 2- 48 lengths (horizontal rails) and 2 - 30 lengths (rope pull bars).

  3. Cut 2 x 4 spruce into 2 -10 long rectangles (rear risers) and 2 -11 long pieces with one end square and the other end at an angle of approximately 30 degrees so that it is about 11 long on one side and 9 on the other (see side view).

  4. Using spade bit drill a hole in the front riser , 1 back from the front of the riser as shown on the detail on the side view drawing.

  5. Mark out the  location of the  risers on the skis, the distance from the back of rear riser to front of the front riser should be 4'. Risers should be centred on skis side to side, Rear riser should be 2 closer to back of skis then front riser is to front of skis (for ours the front riser was 17 from the front tip of the skis the rear riser 15 from the rear end of the skis). Note: the long side of the angled cut on the front riser will be against the ski.

  6. Mark on skis locations for 6 pilot holes on each ski for screws to attach risers to skis.  Pilot holes for front riser should be spread evenly with outer holes at least 1 inside the outer edges of the risers.  Offset holes to reduce chance of splitting skis.  For the rear riser the rear pilot hole should be ' to the rear of the back end of the riser as it will be used to screw into the upright.

  7. Drill pilot holes using 1/8 inch or slightly smaller bit.

  8. Turn skis over and counter sink all 6 pilot holes so that screw heads will be slightly recessed.

  9. Duct tape risers onto skis in locations previously marked,  Make sure long side of front riser is against the ski. If the top of the skis are contoured you may need to use cedar shims between the skis and the risers to ensure a firm fit.

  10. Turn skis and risers over and re-drill pilot holes so that they extend into the risers. 

  11. Use  the 2 or 2.5 screws to attach the risers to the skis, do not put a screw in the rearmost hole yet. Be careful not to put the screws in too far as this may split the skis.

  12. Take the 42 2 x 2 upright and drill two pilot holes at the bottom end of this 1.5 and 2.5 from the end. Offset holes.

  13. Fit upright against the back of the rear riser and the top of the ski. Using a framing square ensure that the upright is at right angles to the rail. Then re-drill the two pilot holes so that they extend into the rear riser. Then use 2 - 3 or 3.5 screws to attach the upright to the rear risers.

  14. Turn the skis over and re-drill the rearmost pilot hole so that it extends into the bottom of the upright. Then use a 2 or 2.5 screw to attach.

  15. Take the 60 1 x 2 that will form the angled side rail and fit it so that it runs from the front of the horizontal rail to 1 or 2 inches below the top of the upright. The angled side rail should extend a bit beyond the bottom of the horizontal rail and the back of the upright. Use a pencil to mark two spots for screwing the angled rail to the front riser and the upright.  Also mark the angled rail where it meets back of the the upright and the bottom of the horizontal rail.  Use these lines to cut the angled rail so that it will fit flush with the edge of the upright and horizontal rail.

  16. Reset the angled rail in place and drill two pilot holes at each end as previously marked.  Extend the pilot holes into the upright and horizontal rail.  Counter sink the pilot holes. Use the 2 or 2.5 screws to attach the side rails. Do not over-tighten.

  17. Use the pencil to mark locations for 10 eye screws on the bottom of the angled rail the top of the side rail  and the front of the upright. The idea is to provide for a zigzag pattern as shown in the side view drawing. Use the 1/16 bit to drill pilot holes in the marked locations and then screw in the eyes by hand. Put a screw driver through the eye for leverage if necessary.

  18. Cut the cord into  two 15' lengths. Melt the ends with match to prevent fraying. Attach one end to the front eye on the angled rail with a figure 8 knot (back through). Then thread through the eyes in a zigzag pattern pulling taut and tying off the other end with a figure 8.


Drilling The East Burlington Sled, January 2010
Drilling The East Burlington Sled, January 2010


Note: Since steps 2 through 18 cover building the sides of the sled, we had a different group of scouts work on each side, ensuring all measurements were identical. A third group could work on preparing the seat, back, rope assembly and  push bar for the divided our youth as detailed in steps 19-29 below.
  1. Cut the hockey stick shaft to 43 long and sand the ends to round

  2. Take the half sheet of plywood and cut it into one 2' x 4' rectangle and one 2' x 2' square (you will have a 2' x 2' piece left over).

  3. Drill 6 - 1/4 holes in the seat piece located    in from each side and 1, 19 and 36 from the front edge of the seat (as per plan view drawing.

  4. Drill four 1/4 holes in the back piece located 3/4 in from each side and 1.5 from the top and the bottom as per front view drawing.

  5. Sand the edges of the back and seat pieces and around the holes if necessary.

  6. Paint the side and back pieces. We recommend painting both sides as this will improve water resistance and reduce warping.  Add troop name, logo, etc. as desired.

  7. Cut the rope into two lengths of 20 to 25', melt ends to prevent fraying.

  8. Take the two 30 2x2 pull bars and drill 1/2 holes for the rope and inch in from each end.

  9. Sand the ends of the pull bars to round and around the holes.

  10. Pull the rope through the front pull bar, with and equal length extending out each side. Knot each end to hold the rope tight against the pull bar.

  11. Knot each side of the rope  about 4' or 5 ' behind the front pull bar. Slide the rear pull bar onto each side of the rope and then knot again behind the pull bar to hold it firmly in place. Ensure that  the pull bars are parallel to each other.

Assembling The Carlisle Sled, January 2010
Assembling The Carlisle Sled, January 2010

The Sleds Make Their Debut, Sunset Area Winter Camp 2010
The Sleds Make Their Debut, Sunset Area Winter Camp 2010

Once the paint is dry on the seat and back the sled is ready for final assembly.

  1. Set the seat in place so that it butts against the front of the uprights and is flush with the outside of the horizontal rails. Then mark the hole locations through the seat onto the horizontal rails.

  2. Drill 1/4 holes into the side rails. You may find it easier to drill just the front hole first, then fit the seat in place and put a 2.5 bolt in to hold the seat to the horizontal rails while drilling the remaining holes through the seat holes.

  3. Attach the seat to the horizontal rails using a flat washer below the head of the bolt. Tap firmly in place with hammer. Then place a flat washer, then a lock washer and then a wing nut on the part of the bolt protruding below the horizontal rail.  Use a wrench to hold the hex head in place while tightening the wing nuts by hand.

  4. Follow the same procedure to attach the back to the two uprights with 2.5 bolts.

  5. Place the push bar against the back of the uprights about 4 below the top of the uprights and centred so that equal lengths extend past each upright.  Drill a  2 - inch holes through the push bar and each upright.

  6. Using the 3 or 3.5 bolts, with the same order of washers as before attach the push bar to the uprights.

  7. An inch or two below the push bar install an eye screw on the inside of each upright.  Clip a carbiner on to each eye.  First aid kits, repair kits, water bottles and other items can be clipped to the carbiners.

  8. Take the ends of the pull rope and thread it through the holes in the front risers, from the outside in.  Tie a figure 8 knot on the inside of the riser.

Your sled is now ready. To disassemble for compact storage, undo the figure 8 knots on pull rope and remove the seat, back and push bar bolts (takes 5 minutes or less). 

Carlisle's Sled In Action, Sunset Area Winter Camp 2012
Carlisle's Sled In Action, Sunset Area Winter Camp 2012

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Sled Plans
(Click on Graphic To See Larger Image)

Plan View
Plan View

Side View
Side View

Rear View
Rear View

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Other Winter Camping Resources:

Winter Camp Packing List
Winter Camp Equipment List

Winter Camp Kim's Game
Winter Camp Kim's Game

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Back to 15th Scouts
Back to 15th Strathcona Scouts

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Sleigh Plans & Directions, Copyright 2010 Scouts Canada, 1st Carlisle Scouting Group
All other contents, Copyright 2012 Scouts Canada
, 15th Strathcona Scouting Group
Select graphics courtesy of the Web Diner
Photo Contributors: Scouter Bill Kowalchyk, Scouter Blake Norton, Scouter Colin Philip, Scouter Al Ernest

Page last revised Monday September 10, 2012.