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Asking "How to build a rink" is kinda like asking "how to make meatloaf." Everyone has their own recipe and they all work. It is a matter of what works for you. If you have an unlimited budget and are not as handy you can buy all the stuff you need from places like NiceRink. If you live somewhere REAL cold all you have to do is flood your yard and watch it freeze. This article is for those in the middle of the two extremes, those that are handy enough to do it themselves, but know when a good quality product is a good idea as well.

You can build your rink out of 2x? lumber or you can use 3/4" plywood and cut it down to suit your needs. Me? I use 2x?, only due to it was what I had handy when my first rink attempt failed (it was an Ice & Go kit - see My Rink Journals for full story) and I had to get a rink setup pronto. So let's get to the important stuff

Step 1 - Where?
Decide where you will build your rink. You want it as close to level as you can get, but it doesn't have to be perfect. You want it to be close to a water source Once you have the spot picked, you can check for level.

Step 2 - Size
Decide just how big you can go. Things to remember are that the bigger you go, the more material you will need to build your rink and the deeper your deep end may get. Starting smaller the first year isn't a bad way to go as you will learn a LOT from it and can apply it to a larger rink next year, after you get your feet wet.

Step 3 - Materials and Construction
I will assume that your yard has less than a 4" slope from your shallow end to your deep end. You will have to adjust your board heights if you have more than that (see Step 3c). You want to have at least 4" of board above the surface of the rink to keep the puck in the rink.

3a - K.I.S.S. method:
I am going to use 20x40 for this part of the "how to" as the numbers are easier, but you will get the idea.

I - Materials
12 - 2" x 12" x 10'
1 - box of 1" screws (I use sheetrock screws)
8 - Steel plates (4" x 6" you can find them at your local home improvement store, they are used for decks)
8 - Steel L brackets (these are for the corners, I recommend getting these from Iron Sleek)
1 - 30x50 tarp/liner
1 - box of staples and your favorite construction stapler (I use a hammer stapler and 3/8 staples)
30 - 2x2 stakes 2' long (this is an etimate as you may need more or les depending on how deep your deep end is)

II - Tools
You will also need the following:
Hose
mini sledge hammer (5 lb)
Drill
Water source

III - Assembly
Start in one corner and use TWO of the L Bracket to join the corner together. Put one about two inches from the top and the other two inches from the bottom. Attach to the OUTSIDE of the corner with the 1" screws.

Next you will build the first 40' side. Do this by connecting the boards to each other with the steel plates, placing the plate so that it is centered on the boards with two inches on each board (so it it 6" tal and 4" wide). Again you will secure it to the boards with the screws. Keep repeating this until you reach the corner, secure the corner and continue until you are back at the starting point. Hammer the stakes so that you have one at the corner about 1' in and then one every 6', as you get closer to your deep end you will shorten that distance to no more than 4' to hold back the extra water. Keeping in mind you will have a minimum of 4" of water in your shallow end, so depending on your slope you could be holding 10" in your deep end.

3b - Advanced method:
In this "how to" I will use brackets instead of stakes. I will again use a 20x40 rink, adjust for your own size.

I - Materials
12 - 2" x 12" x 10'
1 - box of 1" screws (I use sheetrock screws)
8 - Steel L brackets (these are for the corners, I recommend getting these from Iron Sleek)
1 - 30x50 tarp/liner
1 - box of staples and your favorite construction stapler (I use a hammer stapler and 3/8 staples)
27 - Estimated # of rink brackets (these can be made or bought, I reccomend buying them from Iron Sleek)
NOTE:  Iron Sleek sells complete kits that include all the needed brackets, corner braces, screws and installation tools and instructions

II - Tools
You will also need the following:
Hose
mini sledge hammer (5 lb)
Drill
Water source

III - Assembly
Start in one corner and use TWO of the L Bracket to join the corner together. Put one about two inches from the top and the other two inches from the bottom. Attach to the OUTSIDE of the corner with the 1" screws.
Install a bracket about six inches from the corner on your long edge and secure to your frame. Install your next braclet so that it is centered on the joint between board 1 of the long side and board 2. Repeat this until all four boards are in place putting the last bracket in about six inches from the end of the board at the corner. Continue around the frame attaching the corner brackets and so on until your entire frame is together. Now go back and put a bracket in the middle of each of your lengths of board, thus making a bracket about every five feet apart. You will want to put the brackets closer on your deep end to deal with the excess water, thus bringing them closer to three feet apart.

3c - Adding height to the frame (because your slope is more than 4"
This can be done a few different ways too, but here are the two I reccomend...

I - Sister the boards together permenantly
If you find you need say 16" of height, you can take your 2x12 and sister a 2x4 onto it. You simply drill a hole through the 2x4 every 2', then drill a countersink for that hole. I use lag bolts to then bolt the two boards together. You now have a 2x16.

II - Extension brackets
Iron Sleek sells extension brackets that you simply bolt the bracket to the existing board and add the new board and bolt that on. Because they use steel for their brackets you can be sure they are strong. How many you use will depend on if the second story is holding back water or not.

Step 4 - Liner and fill
You can get a liner or tarp from SEVERAL sources.  I have used NiceRink, Tarp & Cover Super Store and J. Freeman and have had great luck with all of them.  It comes down to when I place my order and who still has what I need in stock.

Watch the weather forecast and when you see a four to five day stretch of 27F or colder, plan on getting your liner in and filling it up. DO NOT secure the liner to the frame yet. Spread the liner so that you have an overhang of at least two feet on all sides, pulling the liner flush to the frame as best as possible. Once your have the needed depth and the liner has settled, you can staple it to the outside of the frame to keep it from falling in and letting all your water out.

Step 5 - WAIT
Do not give in to temptation and try to use the rink before it is ready. You need 2" to hold kids, 3" to hold an adult and 3.5" for a group. To test the thickness you simply drill a 1/2" hole into the ice (carefully as to not puncture the liner) in two or three spots about 6 inches in from the frame (personall I drill the center of each edge), take a piece of metal rod (bendable, like say an old coat hanger or electrical wire) and bend it at the end to be a hook, lower the rod into the hole and catch the lip of the ice. Mark your depth on the rod and remove it to measure your thickness.

Step 6 - ENJOY!!!

There are a number of rink enhancements (some seen above) you can do now that you have your rink. Feel free to take a look in our Tips & Tricks section for more information.

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