How to Build Aluminium Snowshoes

How to Build Aluminium Snowshoes
Snowshoes made with aluminum frames are lightweight and durable. When combined with a PVC fabric deck, they provide as much float as a traditional wood and sinew snowshoe twice their size. Finishing the snowshoe with a homemade rubber binding keeps this project within the skill level of most backyard tinkers. Most builders finish building their aluminum snowshoes within 10 hours.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Pipe cutter
  • 3/4-inch aluminum tubing
  • 5/8-inch aluminum tubing
  • Sandpaper
  • Electrician's tube bender
  • Drill press
  • Rivet puller
  • 1/8-inch aluminum rivets
  • PVC fabric
  • Cordage
  • Homemade rubber snowshoe binding
Step 1
Cut two 75-inch pieces of 3/4-inch aluminum tubing. These pieces become the frames for a pair of 30-inch snowshoes. This size works for people ranging from 150 to 250 lbs. For heavier people, make 35-inch snowshoes by adding 10 inches to the tubing. For lighter people, make 25-inch snowshoes by subtracting 10 inches from the tubing.
Step 2
Make inserts by cutting two 2-inch pieces of 5/8-inch aluminum tubing. After the 3/4-inch tubing is bent, the inserts will be riveted into the inside of the 3/4-inch aluminum tubing to join the ends together. Sand all the cuts to make sure the insert easily slides into the 3/4-inch tubing.
Step 3
Use a tube bender to shape the 3/4-inch aluminum tubing into an oval. The two ends of the 75-inch piece of tubing should meet in the center of the rear arch. Bend the front 3 inches of the snowshoe frame up. This will raise the toe to help it float over snow and ease walking. The final snowshoe should be about 30 inches long and 9 inches wide.
Step 4
The two ends of the 3/4-inch aluminum tubing should now touch each other so the insert can slide evenly into both ends. If the insert doesn't slide into both ends of the tubing, then bend the tubing until it does. Drill two holes --- one in each end --- into the snowshoe frame, so the holes go through both the 3/4-inch tubing and the 5/8-inch insert.
Step 5
Join the ends of the snowshoe frame together by riveting through the holes you drilled. The rivets will pass through both the 3/4-inch tubing frame and the 5/8-inch tubing inserts. The frame is now complete.
Step 6
Cut the PVC fabric to the shape of the inside of the snowshoe frame. Punch a hole through the PVC at every inch. Then using cordage, tie the PVC to the frame. The PVC fabric becomes the deck of the snowshoe.
Step 7
Add a homemade rubber binding to the snowshoe's deck. The binding attaches about 10 inches back from the snowshoe's toe.

Tips & Warnings

If you have an aluminum welder, bond the snowshoe frames together using a weld instead of a rivet. Welds are stronger.
For more support under foot, run a 1-inch wide PVC strap around the frame under the binding.
When shopping for PVC fabrics, ask for 18-ounce Coverlight. If unavailable, use nylon-reinforced PVC fabric.
Many awning and sign stores carry PVC fabric.
Use HH-66 vinyl contact cement to repair and reinforce the PVC fabric.

Article Written By Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

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