Skateboard Rail

A skateboard rail or a mini handrail is an obstacle that lets you slide on it.

Skateboards roll on their wheels, this is obvious. Then someone discovered that it is really fun to slide the board on parts that aren't the wheels.

Jumping on to a curb and sliding on the deck between the wheels for the first time is an experience I will never forget.

It was so fun. It felt like sliding on ice, but better.

A skateboard rail is an obstacle made for doing sliding tricks on it. They should be made at a height and size that is easy to get on to and slide.

Skateboard rails are my favourite Things to skate. They are very versatile. If you have a flat area and a skateboard rail, you have a lot of trick possibilities.

Types of Rails

I use my portable flat rail.  It fits in my trunk and is the most fun!

If you want to learn as many tricks as possible then a rectangular rail is the best shape to use. It should be roughly 4" on the top and 2" along the sides. This is the best shape to land on in grinds and slides. It provides a stable place for the trucks to lock onto and a great surface for slides. The wheels can fall on either side of the rail while grinding. That provides a lock on the rail that really helps you land tricks.

Since it is flat on top you can feel a stable balance between both endpoints when grinding. You will know what I mean when you get into a few slides on one. You have to feel it to understand.

A round rail is a more advanced skateboard rail. It should only be used in a skatepark design if a rectangle rail has already been placed. Round rails are much tougher to skate.

They are usually made of a sch 40 pipe which is like 2 1/4" in diameter. They are much more difficult to skate because they provide less to balance on. You need to land right on top and not tip from side to side when skating these. Once you find the sweet spot they are very stable to grind.

They are tougher to skate. The feel of sliding or grinding them isn't really much different from that of a square rail. I don't see the up side for most skaters.

They should really be made from 9"-18" high. Anything lower and your ollie is stunted and you can’t really do proper tricks. Anything higher just makes it harder to skate. Unless you want to be sponsored or pro, don't bother with this.

I prefer 12"-15" in height. That lets me decide the difficulty by trying tough tricks and trick combinations.

I can build confidence locking into the tricks I like and then take that confidence to the streets where the height and size could be anything.

A good grind and slide should be at least a few feet long. I would say 3' is a good length to aim for. If you add speed then you might want to crank that up to 5' or more feet.

Because you don't usually land right on the beginning of the rail you will need to make it long enough to land on and have a decent slide. Make the skateboard rail at least 6' long or you might be disappointed with the length. I have learned this from experience.

A 6' foot rail can also fit in a car or truck pretty well too. Being able to take your all to different spots can be really fun!

If you can make the rail 8' that gives you plenty of room to get your shred on. It might not be as portable though.

2 feet are usually enough. Make them really flat so you can roll over them if need be.

Also put them close to the ends for stability. If you have a portable rail don't put the feet right at the end. The will get in the way when you pop out of a lot of your tricks and it makes it harder to fit into vehicles.

Most of the time you will be popping of at or near the end so you don't want the feet to knock you off of your board and kill the trick.

Shape of the Rail

There are many options for the length of the rail's shape. striaght is the best it provides you the best overall skating experience. There are a few other shapes that can be used after you already have a good straight rail.

A straight rail is all you need. If you get bored then try learning a different trick. There are hundreds of them.

Let’s keep the angle subtle. We want to advantage of increased difficulty going up and an easy slide going down. Neither should be done at the expense of being able to do a good amount of tricks.

Keep the angle lower than 10° and you should be good to go.

Some subtle curves can be fun and add a new dimension to your tricks. Keep the total angle pretty low. If you make it too tight then the rail with just not be skateable. Keep it mellow and it will make your grinds and slide feel and work just a little different. That can be pretty fun.

Kinks or changes in vertical angle if you use them need to be really subtle. They can really suck if they are tight. Pretty unskateable.

Make a change in angle no greater than 30° and even closer to 15°. Anything higher than that is really not that skateable.

Also be sure to put at least 36" or a board length between multiple kinks. In fact don't do multiple kinks. Just avoid it altogether.

Corners in the rail.
This can be good at adding complexity and creating new tricks. A certain angle can be grinded or slide through. Others are just not doable. Some create the chance to "pop" out over the corner. Balance between is the key.

Getting a good rail for you

Get a welder to make up you rail and it should cost around $150.

Or pick up an Element Drop Spot rail. That is what I have and it works really great. It was $150 and skates great and fits in the car with removable feet. It has a few height settings so you can learn tricks at a low level and then put it up higher to get a little more confidence.

I drilled holes and filled mine with spray foam so it is much quieter to skate.

Rails can be easy to steal. I have had at least 5 rails made over the years and without exception, they always get stolen. Some were taken from fenced in skateboard parks. Others right out of my backyard. You need to think about this when you decide what type of rail you might want. Get a lock and lock it up properly.

Want a bit easier thing to skate?
Try out a ledge

Look forward to a downloadable ebook with diagrams, dimensioned plans, cut lists and cost estimates on skateboard rails and other skateboard ramps.It will be coming soon as skateboardhere gets bigger and better.

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