Backyard ice rink confessions

December 19, 2007 by  
Filed under Backyard Ice Rink, DIY Projects, Pictures

I’ve written a number of posts about how easy it is to build a backyard ice rink. Well, it is only fair that I post the story of my FIRST rink. A lot of work during that first winter has made it much easier the following years.

It all started when we bought Ethan hockey skates for his 2nd birthday. He had the skates, now all he needed was ice. So I went to work making a rink…unfortunately our yard is far from flat. Here’s the story…

Backyard ice rink frame I started by assembling the walls of my frame out of 2x8s, the same as I do every year (in fact I’m still using the same 2x8s). I then use 2x4s and a level to raise the walls and get everything square and level for a 24 x 24 rink. The plywood was actually the easiest part. I simply put full 4×8 sheets in place and drew a line along the top of my frame against the plywood. I ripped these pieces with a circular saw and then screwed them in place. I had very little scrap leftover. Notice the 2×4 bracing to keep the weight of the water from blowing out the walls.
Backyard ice rink frame
Backyard ice rink frame
After I had it all done I realized the re-assembling this every year was going to be a pain and it would take a LOT of water to fill and even longer to freeze completely. The shallow end was only 6 inches, but the deep end was 32 inches! I decided to take some of tax return money and invest in dirt and rocks. 80 yards to be exact. Once I saw the size of the pile I realized that if we were going to skate THIS winter I would need some help. Enter the Bobcat! Every DIYer MUST rent a Bobcat for a weekend once in their life. That thing was awesome. I made quick work of the pile and was impressed that my calculations were spot on and had no leftovers. I even had extra time and used the Bobcat to pull out some stumps and some old 400 lb cement footings. Did I mention this thing was awesome? Fill for the ice rink
A level ice rink

TIP – I called the usual rental places first and found the weekend rates for the Bobcat out of my price range. I then tried a local construction business and they rented me one for the weekend, delivered, for the same rate the other places charged for a day. Their Bobcat also was a tracked model, not the usual wheeled model, which saved my front yard from serious damage when the weather got sloppy.

There you have it. My neighbors (and my wife) thought I was nuts, but the end result is that each year I have a nice flat spot in the front yard for our rink. The problem will be extending the rink past 24 feet…maybe every DIYer needs to rent a Bobcat TWICE in their life!

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