Working Wood: Making Stilts.....
Here's a quick project that will give hours of satisfaction - a pair of traditional stilts, light enough for a youngster and strong enough for an adult. Time taken - about 3 hours or about two hours if you are organised ;-)
First cut the two legs to length - about 1.8 metres each and drill five 6.5mm holes at 15cm intervals (see Fig 1.) or until you get about half-way up from the bottom. This will make the stilts adjustable according to skill level. Make sure that the holes line up equally on both legs.
Then cut out the footrests from pieces 45mm x 70mm x 150mm - you can shape them with a quick saw cut at 60 degrees to provide a pleasing taper. And then drill a 6.5mm hole in each footrest.
Now cut the supporting pieces to attach the footrest to the legs. These can be cut from 12mm x 40mm x 100mm pieces. Drill two 6.5mm holes in each of the support braces until you have the components in Fig 2 for each leg.
Now sand each leg and the components of the footrests with 600 grit sandpaper to ensure a smooth surface that is free of splinters or rough patches (see fig 3).
Then before assembling the components give everything a good wipe over with teak oil - it will help to keep moisture out and it gives a lovely honey colour to the wood (see Fig 4).
Finally, assemble the components as illustrated here in fig 5 - do make sure that there is a washer at both the head and the nut ends of each 6mm bolt.
There will be a little bit of take-up of slack the first time you use them, but the more weight that is applied, the more the footrest will be held against the post, and it will provide a secure footing without the footrest leaning out as in some traditional designs.
This design will always keep the footrest level, regardless of any slight imperfections in accuracy. It is simple, strong and very easy to adjust as skill levels improve.
How to use them...
Start with the lowest setting and work up. The opening .mov file shows a brief demonstration of how to use the stilts - the sound effects are just a reminder to be careful as you learn to use them - practice on clear flat ground and away from obstacles.
Step up onto the first stilt and keep your weight forward (that's the best way to fall if you lose your balance). Grasp the uprights on the stilt legs firmly to prevent them from twisting away from your foot.
(NB: No animals or people were hurt in the making of the demo :-) I hope you have as much fun as I had making them and my daughter (and I) have had in using them...