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03 Jun 2013

Wow, I haven't posted here in a while, but I wanted to show a few things that I've been working on for the shop and some personal projects.

STILTS

I love the look of stilts. Always have. I remember my dad made me a set of the old style stilts when I was a kid -- the pole is very long and you keep your hands on them for balance. I also remember falling a lot. Peg stilts are different as they strap directly to your shins and you have to balance on your own. Watching stilt walkers at the circus or at a parade always left me in awe of their grace in using them, sort of like watching a giraffe. Must be that "looking up" thing.

Then Dark Crystal came out and I was enthralled with the LandStrider creatures. 

I recall a behind the scenes documentary on the movie where they showed the performers wearing peg stilts and arm stilts to create the creature. I immediately wanted to make a set to play with, but lacked the technical know how to do it, so I didn't. But I never forgot that desire to make them.

So here's my attempt at a set of peg stilts. I did some internet research to find out the general engineering of peg stilts and got a few ideas. Since I'm better at building things than I was when I was a kid, I threw in my own over-engineered ideas too. This is essentially a build log. All pictures are here. 

FOOT BASE

Fairly straight-forward build just using 3/4" construction grade plywood I had lying around. They're held together with wood glue and brads, no screws. I'll shape the foot pads after everything is together. 

PEGS

The pegs (legs) are made out of 1x1 aluminum square tubing from Home Depot (about $16 for an 8' length). To keep the tubing from getting crushed (and weakened) by the bolts, I made some aluminum spacers on my lathe.

The bolts are 3/8" carriage bolts and the tubing was drilled for 3/8" on one side and 3/4" on the other so I could set the spacers inside. Add washers and nuts and the whole thing feels very solid. Once I can walk in these (14" pegs) I may make a longer set.

SHIN BRACE

The shin braces were cut from 4" black ABS pipe. The wall thickness is about 1/4" and they feel sturdy. I cut and did some general shaping on my bandsaw, but finished them with a half-round wood rasp (fine tooth) and some sandpaper.

I drilled holes at the top of the pegs and made another spacer to keep from crushing the tubing. The carriage bolts are 5/16". I did have to file a square shape on the inside of the braces for the bolt head so that it could lay flat against the inside wall.

The strap loop was created by drilling out the two ends with a 1/4" drill bit, cutting out the middle with a jeweler's saw and finishing with a file. A coping saw would also work, or drilling a series of holes and finishing out with a file. The velcro strapping was about $7 at Home Depot.

FEET

The feet are made from an old bicycle tire. One of the articles I read about stilt building recommended doubling up on the rubber for extra padding. I secured both layers with electrical tape. I may change this at some later date but it seems to hold ok.

FOOT STRAPS

Still working on how to hold my feet to the foot bases. I've been thinking about doing something similar to toe clips like they have on cheaper mountain bikes. In one article I read, the maker screwed an old pair of sneakers to the foot bases. I'd like to try something more flexible since my niece wants to try these things out and her feet are much smaller than mine.

Thanks for reading!