A skateboard rails are something to slide and grind on. Someone discovered that it is fun to slide the skateboard 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. Like sliding on ice.
A skateboard rail is an obstacle made for doing sliding tricks on it. Start at a height that is easy to get on to and slide.
Skateboard rails are my favourite things to skate. They are versatile. If you have a flat area and a skateboard rail, you have a lot of trick possibilities.
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. The round shape is tougher to balance on. Square rails are better for 99% of skaters.
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.
Rails should from 9"-18" high. Anything lower and your ollie is stunted and you can’t do proper tricks. Anything higher makes it harder to get up there to skate. Unless you want to be 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. Building confidence locking into the tricks I like. 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.
You don't usually land right on the beginning of the rail. It needs to to be long enough to land on and have a decent slide. At least 6' long or there isn't enough space to grind it.
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.
The rail needs to be held off the ground with feet. 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. You don't want the feet to knock you off your board and kill the trick.
There are many options for the length of the rail's shape. straight is the best it provides you the best skating experience. There are a few other shapes to.
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. Keep the angle lower than 10° and you should be good to go.
Some 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 will not be skateable. Keep it mellow and it will make your grinds feel a little different. That can be pretty fun.
Kinks or changes in vertical angle need to be subtle. Most skaters are novice and can handle a little kink. Too much and it is unskateable.
Make a change in angle no greater than 15°. Anything higher and it is too hard to skate.
Also be sure to put at least 48" 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. Create the chance to "pop" out over the corner.
Get a welder to make up you rail and it should cost around $150.
Or pick up an rail from some good campanies. 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 taken from fenced in skateboard parks, others 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