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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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Comments

  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!!

    -Olive

    • 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
      David

  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..!

    Bob

  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.

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