Ask the Builder

Template for a Shed Ramp

By Tim Carter
Saturday, May 5, 2007

Q: DEAR TIM: I have to build a shed ramp because the ground around my shed is on a slope. It doesn't seem that shed ramp construction would be that difficult, but I don't want to start until I have a plan. What is the maximum slope you can have on a shed ramp? Do you know how to build a shed ramp with wood? I want the ramp to be safe and sturdy because my riding lawn mower is quite heavy. -- Jerry McG.

ADEAR JERRY: Although I have built my fair share of shed ramps, I don't know if you could say I am a shed ramp guru. But I can give you some tips that will allow you to construct a wood ramp that will not shudder or snap as you drive your lawn tractor up and into the shed. I recommend that you copy the way I built my shed ramp.

The shed ramp project is not very difficult; however, it will require some unusual cuts with a circular saw. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the toughest job, I would rate this project a 2.5.

Let's discuss slope. The steepness of the ramp can be a safety issue, whether you are on or off the lawn tractor. If the ramp is steep and you have not cleaned it for a year or so, it might develop an algae covering that can be more slippery than a bar of soap. If you try to drive a lawn tractor up a slippery ramp, it is possible for the tractor to slide sideways and tip over the ramp. You can be severely injured if that happens.

You want to minimize the ramp's steepness. I think the maximum slope should be three inches of rise per foot of run. My shed ramp has this slope, and it rises 24 inches from the ground to the shed floor. The length of my ramp is eight feet. Try to make your ramp as long as possible to minimize slope.

If a ramp is steeper than this, you might also have a problem when the lawn tractor pulls into the shed. My lawn tractor has a belly mower. The belly mower can scrape the top of the ramp and prevent the tractor from entering the shed. Lawn tractors with snowplows might also have a problem climbing a steep ramp, and the blade might dig into the ramp.

My shed ramp is constructed with treated lumber 4-by-4s, a treated 2-by-4, and treated 3/4 -inch-thick plywood. I spaced the 4-by-4s two feet on center as they project away from the shed. Because my ramp is six feet wide, I needed four 4-by-4s.

The ends of the 4-by-4s are notched using a circular saw. These notches allow the 4-by-4s to rest on the 2-by-4, which is through-bolted to the end joist of the shed. The notches are only 1 1/2 inches deep and perhaps an inch high. The two cuts that make up the notches are 90 degrees to one another, but the one cut is not parallel with the ends of the 4-by-4s.

The 2-by-4 is bolted to the side of the shed joist so the top of the 2-by-4 is 2 1/2 inches down from the top of the shed floor joists. If the shed floor has 3/4 -inch flooring, this will allow the treated plywood of the ramp to line up nearly perfectly with the top of the shed flooring.

Once the small notches are made on the ends of the 4-by-4s, you can set them on top of the 2-by-4 and toenail them into the side of the shed joist. Use hot-dipped galvanized nails 3 1/2 inches long.

After all the 4-by-4s have been secured to the 2-by-4 ledger board, cut the plywood to length and nail it to the 4-by-4s. Use hot-dipped galvanized nails for this task, but these need to be only 2 1/2 inches long. If you can get ring-shanked nails, they will hold better. Use a nail set to drive the nails slightly below the surface of the plywood. Your lawn tractor's tires will love you for this.

Tim Carter can be contacted via his Web site, http://www.askthebuilder.com/printer_Submit_Question.shtml.

Copyright 2007 Tribune Media Services


© 2007 The Washington Post Company