How to Build a Temporary Wheelchair Ramp

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Things You'll Need

  • (1) 1-by-4s, 8 feet long

  • (4) 2-by-4s, 8 feet long

  • (1) 4 foot by-8-foot sheet of 3/4-inch plywood

  • (2) 4-by-8-feet sheets 3/8-inch plywood

  • (1) 4-by-8-feet sheets Masonite or Skatelite (optional)

  • 4 to 6 lbs of 2-1/2-inch wood screws

  • Measuring tape

  • Pencil of chalk

  • Radial saw

  • Power drill with screwdriver bit

Image Credit: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Wheelchair ramps offer access to buildings and spaces to people in wheelchairs, other wheeled vehicles and people pushing strollers. Small, simple wooden wheelchair ramps are easy to build and easy to disassemble. However, strict federal and local guidelines govern the specifications for constructing wheelchair ramps and should always be consulted before beginning the process. You can build a ramp that rises 6 inches, is 6 feet long and 5 feet wide.


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Construct the Sides

Step 1

Draw sides on the 3/4-inch sheet. Start by measuring down the long edge of the plywood sheet. Make a mark at 6 feet. This will be the bottom edge of one side of the ramp.

Step 2

Use the T-square to measure 6 inches directly above the previous mark and make another mark. Draw a straight line from that mark down to the corner of the plywood sheet forming a triangle that is 6 inch long by 6 inches high.


Step 3

Use the saw to cut this triangle out of the plywood sheet. This is the first side of the ramp. Use it to trace another triangle out of the same plywood sheet. This will be your other side of the ramp.

Add Structure

Step 1

Cut the 8-foot long 1-by-4 into two 4-foot pieces. Starting from the bottom, take the pencil and make marks every 8 inches along the slope of the sides. Screw the two 1-by-4 you just cut at the first two marks starting from the bottom. Use two screws per side. The joists at the front of the ramp should be placed horizontally and flush to the ground.


Step 2

Cut all the 8-foot, 2-by-4s in half making a total of eight 4-foot pieces. Take your 4-foot, 2-by-4 pieces and screw them into the sides, two screws per side, at every other mark.

Step 3

These are the joists—horizontal supporting members that run from side to side up the center of the ramp. Add an extra 2-by-4 joist to the bottom back corner of the ramp.

Top of the Ramp

Step 1

Measure 6 feet along the 8-foot edge of one of the 3/8-inch plywood sheets and make a mark. Measure and mark at the same distance along the other side and draw a line between the two marks.


Step 2

Use the saw to cut along the line and you're left with a sheet of plywood that is 4-by-6 inch. Lay this sheet over the second sheet and trace it. Cut the second sheet. If you plan on adding a final layer of masonite or Skatelite to smooth out the ramp, use this sheet to trace a line on the sheet and cut it as well.

Step 3

Screw the plywood sheets and Masonite or Skatelite to the ramp. Place the first plywood sheet over the skeletal structure and, using wood screws about every foot or so, screw the sheet to the 2-by-4 joists. Add the second sheet of plywood following the same procedure and then the finishing sheet of Masonite or Skatelite.


You may add a back to the ramp by cutting a 6-by-4 inch piece out of your 3/8 inch plywood scraps and screwing it the back of the ramp.


Consult the guidelines issued by the Americans with Disibilities Act for specific measurements and requirements on wheelchair ramp construction. Your city should have a planning department office. Check with them to see if there are any local laws governing wheelchair ramp specifications.


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