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How to make your own wood stilts

The video will show you how to construct a pair of wooden peg stilts. Our minimum requirement is a safe pair of stilts. Our maximum desire is to have a high level of joy! The skill level necessary is comparable to installing a new door lock.

It might be helpful if I explain my approach. Ideally you are using a good grade of wood and not looking to save money here because you are going to rely on these stilts to carry your weight safely. I weigh 165 and find that these stilts held up well under my use as a performer. That being said, everything has a life and eventually breaks. You are responsible to monitor your stilts. Inspect them each time before you put them on. Making sure the nuts and screws are not loose and there are no splits or cracks in the wood. If you are up and walking around and feel something is “just not right” then come down and check it out, it’s likely you can still avoid a huge equipment failure. Also, if you don’t mind the extra weight, you can feel free to alter the design and make the stilts out of thicker piece of wood. Instead of 1.5”x1.5” try 1.5” x 2” or 2 ½”.

Depending on what part of the country you are in, or the world. Some of the recommended supplies won’t be available. For instance, here in California, Douglas Fir is widely available and has been my choice for wood. When I made a pair for friends, while in Denver, there was no lumber yard that stocked Douglas Fir and I ended up using Poplar. What is important with your wood choice is it must be strong and knot free. Pine and redwood are not good choices for stilts because they are softwoods. My recommendations are Douglas Fir, Poplar, Oak or Ash. If those aren’t available then find what hardwoods are available in your area of the world.

We’re making something here and everybody will develop their own touch. I’m just guiding you thru my process and you might find certain things work better for you. Please ask questions if you are stuck at some juncture, fill out the Contact Form.

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  1. My son has a pair of wooden stilts made by Dave. They are very strong, so much so they will be passed on to the next child that is ready to stilt. Thanks Dave!!!

  2. Stephanie Humphress says:

    Oh well now I see it! Guess I should read the whole page!

    • Good work! I know it’s not as clear as it could be, and glad you found it. Would love to see some pics if you want to post them to our Face Book page. Have fun stilting.

  3. This made my day! Thank you!

  4. Jason Cohen says:

    I am making stilts for a Alice in Wonderland themed fundraiser for a nonprofit clinic for low income women, and the video on how to make a good pair of stilts was perfect. Thank you!

  5. Olive Rentz says:

    Hi there Dave!
    I have a question! I’m a 15 year old female that loves costume, cosplay, and everything in between! I’ve been looking at ways to create stilts for my Slenderman cosplay and so far, yours is by far the best!

    On my way to stilting, I would like to know what I should do around a lot of people. At conventions, I like to move around a lot, but I’m not so sure if I’d feel comfortable stilting with a lot of people around me that might poke and probe my legs. What do you think I should do? Should I just stand still and let photos be taken? Or try and get more comfortable with my stilts?

    Also, for my Slenderman cosplay, I was planning on building a cage like leg around my stilts. Do you have any recommendations on what I could use? Maybe a foam leg or should I use plastic?

    I’ve taken gymnastics and karate for 9 years, so I would like to think my balance is alright, but you never know until you get up on stilts, huh?

    Thanks Dave!!


    • Very intriguing questions! I’ve stilted in very tight crowds and you are right it can be really crazy and unpredictable. Yet people are pretty good about giving you respect and leeway, so if you are nimble on your feet I think you’ll do well. I wish I could sit in a shop with you and figure out your costume, it sounds fun. Every costume is a first time and usually you’ll wish you had time to make two. The first one that you figure out a bunch of stuff on and the second one that actually works. That being said, don’t spend a lot of time on details. Get the basic idea in the roughest form and try it out. Work out the cage part without dressing it up. When you feel comfortable with how it functions and are sure it’s not going to trip you up, THEN make it pretty and magic.
      be awesome

    • Kelly Patterson says:

      I finally built the stilts, got them all together, I am making a creature for later in the year and the stilts are AWESOME!! I will send more pics…My 6 yr old daughter wants a pair so I will make a very short pair for her …and then start adding to it when she is comfortable…Thanks Again!!

  6. Okay Dave, I am a total weekend warrior carpenter but I am going to give it a whirl for my boy Ben! Wish us luck!

  7. Matthew Schmidt says:

    Hey there.
    So I have a question. How much weight will these hold? I can do the measurements for my legs, but I weigh 250-275 and want to be sure that it will hold me with something like oak.
    Also, planning on making a four point stiltwalker, and was wondering if the change in center of gravity will compensate for the weight?
    Thanks ahead of time. I appreciate your response and look forward to making these (if they will work for my weight class).

    • I’m sure you moved on by now, but I would not put your weight on 2×2 wood sticks. I recommend building them super beefy, at least 2×3 and the wood triangle that supports your foot AND the footplate should be thicker. Unfortunately the design is best for 175 and under. I would modify the plans. Best of luck.

  8. Going to start building these tomorrow. So stoked – I was a stilter for years as a kid in the Open Air Circus in Boston, can’t wait to get my stilt on again!

  9. Could you please tell me the Size of the Screws (length etc) that go into the Sneaker into the Foot Plate & from the top of the Foot Plate into the Triangle Support…

    Thank You…


  10. Hi David,

    Thanks for the Response to the Screw question.
    Next Question: where can I get the Webbing for the Velcro Leg Straps..?

    Thanks again..!


  11. Dave:
    I am making your stilts for halloween based on your video. Can you tell me how long I should cut the PVC and how much do I cut out of it for the opening?

  12. Well I’m stumped…got everything done except the PVC calf braces – I’m in Monterey and for the life of me I can’t figure out where the heck you’re fiding 4 inch PVC! I’ve been to every hardware store on the peninsula and they look at me like I’m crazy when I ask for 4 inch PVC! Lol… I can’t find a place online that will ship it either. Any advice would be appreciated. Also, how are you cutting it? I got 4 inch ABS because I wasn’t really planning on heating it, but I cut it in half with the bandsaw and felt silly because the resultant pieces were obviously much too small….thanks!!

    • Rachel- Sometimes Home Depot has it and also check with any irrigation supply places. PVC is stronger than ABS, fyi. Also the calf piece is about 10″ so instead of cutting the 4″ pipe in half it’s more like cutting a wedge out of the pipe. Try again and measure the outside up to 10″ and cut out the rest. Band saw is great, table saw is possible if you are skilled and it’s possible to use a small hand saw with smaller teeth and care. Hope this helps.

  13. This past week we built a pair of your wood stilts for a Halloween themed fundraiser event put on by our local Historical Society. The construction was pretty easy ( my having a good assortment of tools helped). They still need a little tweaking to customize the fit and make the PVC part more comfortable.
    This was our first time using stilts and they were being used for a four- legged creature costume and so were shorter than the basic stilt.. After a short bit,, my youngster discovered that he could balance and walk without using his “front legs”. For this pair we used 2×3 pine lumber. We will be making a longer pair next, using 2×3 in a hardwood. Thank you for the tutorial.

  14. Dennis DeWolf says:

    Love your site, thank you so much for putting this tutorial. Would you please help me out with your suggestion on how to cut the tires?

    • Using a sharp utility knife can work, but be a little dangerous if you are not used to using it. Tin snips are safer and they also help you get thru the wire that is often in the edge of the tire.

  15. Darlene says:

    David, I want to thank you for your generous sharing of stilt construction! My great nephew Jaris is a hoola hoopin’ stilter who is presently without stilts, so I’m hoping to make him some adjustable ones. Planning to use my husband’s woodworking tools. I love this young man and want him to get back on stilts so he can bring joy to many. Jaris recently moved to Southern California and loves it, he just needs his long legs and he’ll be floating on air.
    Hugs, Darlene
    PS I’ll email pictures

  16. I’ve been wanting to try stilts for a long time but I’ve always been concerned about the idea of making my own because I’m fairly heavy. Would it be possible to use tubular aluminum, like what they use to make crutches?

    • Unless you have welding and metal working tools it might be a challenge. I would just make them out of larger dimensions of wood. Make sure there are no knots in the wood also. It will change dimensions from what I’ve put on Youtube, but if you have the skill it shouldn’t matter.
      Best of luck

  17. John MacInnis says:

    Thanks for the instructions! Yesterday, I made a pair for my daughter. They turned out great. She strapped them on and walked around the neighbor to the delight of neighbors.

  18. Hi Dave,

    I’m about to embark on the exciting stilt making adventure outlined above. Thank for the great video!

    My question is about wood type. Do you have an opinion or any experience with LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumbar) or something like it for stilt making. From what I can tell it is as strong as hardwood but as light as softwood…. but I’d hate to get the equation wrong and see a little tacker fall under a broken stilt!

    Any thoughts gratefully accepted!

    • I don’t have experience with LVL on anything other than headers and beams in a house (I’m a builder in my day job 🙂 I think you should experiment with it and let me know. I imagine that since it is laminated ply that the strength will be so much that there will never be a clean break and hence any disaster for the littles. Seems like you will be aware of any failure before it becomes a problem.
      Wishing you well!

  19. Thas meintjes says:

    I am 62 years and had this dream to walk on stilts. I started to make stilts but boy oh boy, I was so wrong. Then I saw your video! I made a pair today, 300mm high and to my surprise, I managed to walk with it within 5 minutes without support. Thank you so much for your video. I live in Johannesbug. South Africa.

  20. This video is incredible! Thanks so much! I am mounting a production of “The Lion King” at my school and need to put several students playing giraffes on stilts.

    Video as incredibly easy to follow, materials are easy to obtain and even with my minimal woodworking artistry I feel confident I could do this.

    Fantastic job Dave!

  21. Thanks so much for this design! I ended up making them a bit shorter (2 ft instead of 3) since I was nervous about walking around on my first pair. So far they’re holding up GREAT. I won a costume contest going on in downtown Denver with your help, the scariest Jack Skellington seen around these parts…

  22. my 15yr old son wants a pair of wooden stilts. we will try to make these but just incase this mom fails at stilt making. where can the wooden ones be purchased? i noticed theres only 4 items for sale none are made of wood.

    • Hi, wishing you the best of luck on the stilts. I like to say that if you can install a lock and deadbolt then you can build a pair of stilts. If that helps 🙂 Currently I’m not making individual pairs of wood stilts but I have been making bunches for schools and troupes so let me know how it goes and if possible I’ll add you to a batch.

  23. Kevin Kendrick says:

    Really appreciate you coming up with a video to actually make your own stilts. Some of the others on the net look a little less than desired. Would you mind sending me the materials list to make them. My family and friends have been doing a Haunted Halloween street for several years now and each year we try to do something a little different. It’s all centered around Freddy Krueger (I play Freddy) since we live off of Elm Street. I want to make stilts this year to take Freddy to the next level, figuratively and literally. Thanks for the help. I will send some video if I’m able.

  24. Thanks for your generosity! Can’t wait to make a pair for a Grim Reaper costume

  25. Hello,

    There seems to be an error in the instructions or my understanding of them; the upper 24″ piece, overlapping with the bottom 3′ piece by 7.5″ and then also losing .75″ to the foot plate only leaves 15.75″. As I’m also a 17″ lower leg with shoes on, shouldn’t the upper section be 25.25″?

    If this is correct, should I reduce the overlap by 1.25″ to get the top right, or would that make the build too weak? I’m 200lbs, and will be reducing the effective stilt height to 2’4″. I’ll wait for your response before drilling more holes!

    On a more entertaining note, this is my 2nd time using part of your design; 3 years ago I combined the top design with a stack of high-density insulation foam to make the lower legs of a rather large costume! Long story, but here’s the ‘naked’ lower legs and the 2nd version of the costume:


  26. 39 year old first time stilter, thanks to your videos and email list, and my husband who indulges my crazy!

  27. Arturo Gonzalez-Lopez says:

    Hey Dave!
    Currently making my own wood stilts, and I have a question. What’s the height or length between the 9″ base and 1 1/2″ sections of plywood?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Arturo
      Short answer: It can depend. Since I have jigs set up it is the same each time. For you it will depend on how big your foot plate is and how close to the toe or heal you want the angled support piece go. Can you do a mock up before you glue and screw?

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