My buddy Mike has had numerous ramps in his yard over the years. Some better than others but all of them bring back great memories. From trying to figure out how to ride a 6 foot quarterpipe while listening to Civ to mellow afternoons sippin’ beers and riding the current mini ramp that’s tucked away in his backyard, it’s all been fun and Mike made it happen for his friends.
I know it seems like a huge cop out to get my friend to answer some questions about ramps, but it’s kind of the point. Mike is just a regular dude, who tries to build his own fun in his free time. I’m sure Tim Payne or whoever is a professional ramp builder would have interesting things to say about building ramps but you’re probably not trying to build the next Woodward. This is fuel to fill that awkward piece of land behind your mom’s house with a plywood paradise. Hopefully Mike can help the budding ramp builder in you get started on a summertime fun creation.
As someone who has had numerous ramps in their yard, can you give the readers any advice for getting the ball rolling on building their own fun?
I think that for me it came to a point where I just bought the wood and went for it. The more I thought about it, the more my ideas kept changing so I just started framing the transitions and went from there.
I feel like your ramps are always the perfect blend of scrap and salvaged material with quality craftsmanship. What kind of carpentry skills do you have?
My carpentry skills are average, when I built the ramp I have now, I would get aggravated and impatient at times so instead of trying to make something perfect I would just go with it. As I kept building the costs were getting higher so I think I started to cut some corners to make ends meet, that’s probably why the ramp I have now is pretty scrappy.
You can be bias on this one, but what are some of the best backyard ramps you’ve ridden?
When I was younger I thought Steve Wholen’s mini/bowl at the West Bridgewater Massachusetts trails was unbelievable, perfect transition on that thing. I also have to say the quarter I had in my driveway with the added vert wall that you and I rode everyday after school was a hit. Also who could forget my scrap street spine that was never finished even though Kris Viera ( Editor’s Note: Taunton Legend) jumped it and landed on the 2x4s.
The high school era quarterpipe was so good, I kind of forgot about that but regardless I’m sure a lot of kids have a hard time convincing their parents that a ramp is a good idea. Got any first hand experience with this?
I always just told them it was going to be smaller than the last one which was an absolute lie. As far as advice goes, I’d just keep bothering them until they give in like when Bart and Lisa (Simpson) did when they kept asking Homer for a pool.
What do you consider the most important tools and supplies for ramp construction. What’s a necessity for the kid just getting started?
A good cordless drill and solid circular saw with a fresh blade are probably the most important tools needed. A good jig saw isn’t a bad idea for cutting the transitions.
Speaking of transitions, they are one of the most important parts of the ramp. Any secrets to getting that perfect wooden wave?
Yea one of the most important parts and probably the toughest. I tried the string and pencil approach but I think what worked best for me was just going free hand. I think I had some help from you on one of my ramps. I feel like you can always adjust slightly when it comes time run the 2x4s across to the other side. You don’t always have to follow the cut you made in the sides, I think if you want it a little steeper you can screw them in so they stick above the edge of ply. Maybe this isn’t the best idea but that could be why each side of my mini feels like it has a different slope.
But it works and we’ve great times out there. Okay so once you have the ramp, what kind of maintenance do you do, if any, to keep it running strong especially with harsh New England winters?
I was lucky enough to have some old swimming pool covers that basically kept the entire ramp out of the elements. I would always tie them down and put some old blocks of wood on top to keep it from blowing off but it got to the point that no matter what I did water was still getting underneath. I was also pretty good about shoveling it off after a snowfall but as the ramp got older I started to slack of a bit with that.
Thanks for doing the interview. I think I got everything but feel free to fill in the blanks to anything I may have forgotten.
Thanks for appreciating my ramps over the past decade and I hope this motivates people to go out and build something of their own.
If we forgot anything or if you’ve got any insider ramp tips, hit up the forum and keep it flowing.