Homemade Snowshoes

What's New
Scouts with their new snowshoes.

We've built well over a hundred pairs of this style of snowshoes since 1997 in Troop 1051 and Explorer Post 123. Other Troops in Loveland and Fort Collins have used our patterns to make dozens more.

They are durable - I have used mine on over 30 campouts and they are still in great shape.

Four steps are done ahead of time:

  • Bending the Frames
  • Fabricationg the Foot and Heel Plates
  • Cutting the Decking
  • Cutting the Rods
All the remaining steps for building the snowshoes are done by the Scouts at our Snowshoe Assembly Day.

Materials List

Excel Spreadsheet | PDF


The frames are made of 3/4 inch schedule40 PVC pipe.

The basic process we use to bend the pipe is:

  • Cut 67" lengths of the PVC pipe (you can get 3 pieces out of a 20' piece).
  • Heat sand to approx 550o F (we use dutch ovens on camp stoves).
  • Pour the sand into a precut length (66-67 inch) of the pipe.
  • In 20-40 sec, the pipe becomes flexible.
  • Pour out the sand.
  • Lay the flexible pipe into the form, and spray cold water on/through it.

For safety, we don't have Scouts involved in this step. Adults bend the frames ahead of time.
Due to the setup time involved in this step, we typically make enough for several years' worth of new Scouts.

Materials and equipment list for frame bending.

Pouring hot sand into pipe Laying pipe in form

Here's some instructions for building the jig used for bending the frames. (3.5 MB pdf file)

Jig Plan: Overview picture
Actual size plans: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Print these on legal-sized paper and "paste" together at the crosses. Make sure your pdf printing options are set to print actual size, not scale to fit.

Foot and Heel Plates

You will need a metal shop to cut, punch, and bend the sheet aluminum foot and heel pieces.

We have used aluminum as thin at .08" up to about .12".

Here's the pattern. (When you print, don't scale this pdf!)


We cut the decking pieces from 4' by 8' sheets of HDPE (high-density polyethylene), available from a plastics supply company.

We have tried cutting the decking with heavy duty scissors and tin snips, but it works much better to use a router with a template. Even better is to have them cut by a die-cut company.

Here's an image of the decking and a full-sized deck plan, contributed by Jeff Plank.
Print the 4 sheets and tape together lining up the lines. Make sure your pdf printing options are set to print actual size, not scale to fit.
The decking will be 26 3/4" long.

Steel Rods

Scouts can cut their own rods with a hacksaw and smooth the ends with a file, but it is a slow process. We usually have an adult cut the rods with a metal cut-off saw and smooth the ends on a grindstone ahead of time.

Assembly Day

Most 12 year-olds can stay on task and complete all the steps (with plenty of adult guidance) in about 4 hours.

We arrive 30-45 minutes ahead of our start time to set up the various workstations (you'll want lots of worktables).

This list of the assembly stations lists the steps to be performed and the necessary materials and tools for each one.

When everyone has arrived, we walk them around to the various stations, explaining the key points of each. (Here's an outline of our briefing - use in conjunction with the list of stations above.)


Heel Plate

  • After the decking is laced in, put the bolts through the heel plate and up through the decking.
  • Place the two holes near the center of the 2" webbing over the bolts.
  • Note that we don't pre-mark the holes in the ends of the 2" webbing because the position will depend on how tightly the decking has been laced in.
  • Wrap the end of the webbing around the frame as shown in the diagram.
  • Pull around snugly, laying it over the ends of the bolts and mark the location of the bolt ends so you can punch holes there. Do the same for the other side.
  • Take the webbing off, punch (melt) the holes, and put the webbing back on.
  • Add washers and nuts.

Pictures of the Steps

Here's a zip file of pictures of the various assembly steps: SnowshoePics.zip


I've been getting lots of questions over the past couple years, so finally pulled the answers together in one place. Check out our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) (Added December 1, 2011)


Last Updated Friday, 20-Dec-2013 19:36:03 CST