How to build a Log Rail Slide

Posted on 09/09/2009 by Caleb

Currently in board sports more and more riders are straying away from specifically designed freestyle features and are instead starting to hit urban, industrial and even natural obstacles that are found if you look around hard enough. I'm a big fan of this as it usually produces a different style of riding and looking at what is possible to do. Also it's cheap.

Here's a quick and cheap way to get a primo rail set-up in your local woods. No welding, no concrete, and can be disguised as a bench :)

First go and find yourself a good strong and straight log. if your not sure where to look ask your local tree surgeon.

Log rail

This one is a little over 3m, a bit gnarly underneath, but sound on top. Had to saw a few branches off and peel a wee bit of bark away.

Take some legs (I made mine from half rounds, but thick and solid branches will do). I went for 3, long enough to bury about 40cm into the ground and about 30-40cm above. Take the longest nails you can get your hands on (I used to recycle all the ones I'd pull out of palettes when salvaging the wood, I now tend to just bulk buy a big box full from blacks (a screw and nail specialist).  Bang them nails from the bottom of the leg into the bottom of the rail at a steep angle, about 7 or 8 should stabilise the leg.

Now meassure roughly a slightly thiner branch coming 45 degrees from the bottom of the rail to the level where the leg will be burried, cut the ends at 45 degrees rather than straight. Nail this in place to brace the leg against the rail. Probably best to nail to the leg first and then the rail to be sure you have a good 90 degree angle on the leg. The more nails in these the more stable your legs.

Log rail

Then at the bottom of each leg nail a small piece of wood, 40-50cm, going across and making a  "T" shape. Lots of nails again to prevent movement. These should stop the rail wobbling from side to side and avoid the use of side buttress braces that can catch when your grinding.

Get your rail upside down over where you plan to plant it so you can get an idea where to dig. Be thinking of how much run up and speed you will need, how much space you will need if your gonna be able to approach from either side for boardslides (the rail pictured will eventually have a 2m wide dirt kicker to give loads of approach lines).

Most people agree its more fun to jump onto a rail than just ride onto it so have your kicker a little lower than your rail. Also think of the angle you want your rail to sit at, being wood its a good idea to have a gentle decline so you keep the speed all the way along the rail. But too steep and it all gets a bit fast and intense!

Log rail

Now start digging. About 40cm down for this size rail, deeper if taller / heavier, and wide enough to take the cross piece as well. Sit your rail in the hole, and support it upright with something. Now's the most important bit: fine tuning. If your rail leans to one side, you will most likely slide that way and it sucks. If your rail is too tall dig deeper. I find this is a good time to walk in a big circle all the way round the feature and decide if you've got it right.

Having decided its perfect, start putting that dirt back, compacting it as you go to stop any movement. Can be a good idea to wet the backfill a LITTLE to make a mud mix that will harden up nicely when the water evaporates. Try and get some mulch or forest grass or whatever and plant it round the feet, this will help to camouflage the rail a wee bit, makes it more aesthetic and less of a vandalism target to any pillocks who might have nothing better to do.

Log rail

The beauty of this method is its very cheap and adaptable. If you want a down / straight / down 12m rail you'd normally have to pay a fortune to get it, but this way you can build it almost free and it only takes a day and a bit of imagination. C rails, S rails, rails over ponds, it's all down to finding the right piece of wood.

This rail still needs to have the top planed and waxed, so i will update this 'how to' once I get her finished. if you decide to build one yourself, send a few photos to us so we can see how you got on :)