How to Build a Homemade Concrete Bowl for Skateboarding
A homemade skateboard half-pipe ramp would please most skaters, but a homemade backyard skateboard cement bowl provides them a Shangri-La. That said, such projects not only require a significant amount of planning and preparation, but also possibly permits and allowances from your local city hall as well. Unlike a wood ramp, which can be torn down easily if removal is needed, a cement bowl is a much more permanent structure, so a full commitment by a property owner needs to be in place to start such a venture.
Map out where on your property the skateboard bowl will be located. Assume enough space is needed for the diameter of the bowl plus 4 feet extra. Mark this location on the ground with a bright, orange spray paint.
Go to your local city hall or county land use planning office. Apply and pay for a construction permit after providing information on what you will be building. Do not start with the construction until the permit is approved.
Dig a hole in the targeted ground area to match the depth and cavity of the planned bowl, similar to digging out a pool installation. Rent a mini-bulldozer or backhoe to perform the major digging. Remove the excess dirt or pile it up in another location some distance from the target area.
Use a foot stamper to flatten the ground inside the bowl cavity. Construct walls at the mid point of the cavity sides to create forms for the concrete as it reaches above the bowl. Brace the walls from behind with two-by-four beams positioned into the ground. Make the walls out of plywood cut by a table saw, and attach them to two-by-four wood beams with nails and a hammer. Create the wall all the way around the cavity to build the upper frame of the cement.
Lay down rebar in the middle of the cavity in a cross pattern. Bend the rebar into the necessary curve using a rebar-bending tool as you approach the bottom curve of the bowl cavity. Install the rebar so that it continues up the plywood walls built in Step 3 and stops at the top of the wall edge.
Run a 1-inch-diameter PVC pipe underneath the rebar to the center of the bowl. Attach a junction to the pipe that will be the drain entrance to the plumbing in the bottom of the bowl — this will drain water later, when the bowl is finished. Extend the PVC pipe out of the bowl area to be attached later to a pump.
Mix cement and water into a cement mixer, creating enough cement to surface the inside of the bowl. Bring the cement into the bowl with buckets and a wheelbarrow. Start pouring the cement at the bottom first, working by segments until reaching the upper wall areas. Keep the drain pipe spigot in the center clear of cement. Smooth the cement with trowels and cement rakes.
Let the bowl cement dry and install pre-fabricated cement pool edge coping on the top of the bowl in the meantime. Glue the coping with mastic tile adhesive to the top lip platform of the bowl. Add in pre-mixed grout between the tiles using a trowel. Let the grout dry after wiping of the excess.
Carefully remove the two-by-four beams and cavity walls after the bowl cement has cured for two days. Allow for four or five days if the surrounding area has moisture. Clear any old wood-forming material and fill in any cavity behind the bowl wall with dirt using a shovel.
Build additional forming frames on the outside of the bowl with two-by-four beams cut on the table saw. Construct the horizontal frame all the way around the outside of the bowl area so that it forms the walking deck of the bowl. Measure the wood so that the deck area provides at least a 3-foot perimeter to the edge of the bowl and pool coping tile.
Pour cement into the outside perimeter deck area framing to create the platform. Smooth out the cement using trowels and cement rakes. Let the cement cure for two days. Remove the forms previously built. Landscape the surround area outside the bowl to finish the project. Connect the PVC pipe previously installed to a pump system to drain the bowl when it fills with rainwater.
Having partners help you with the project will make the effort go much more smoothly and quickly. Creating a decent-sized skateboard bowl represents a huge amount of work for one person and won't be finished quickly without help.
Always let the cement poured properly dry. Rushing the job will create premature cracking as the cement dries, which will eventually destroy the integrity of bowl.
- Having partners help you with the project will make the effort go much more smoothly and quickly. Creating a decent-sized skateboard bowl represents a huge amount of work for one person and won't be finished quickly without help.
- Always let the cement poured properly dry. Rushing the job will create premature cracking as the cement dries, which will eventually destroy the integrity of bowl.
Since 2009 Tom Lutzenberger has written for various websites, covering topics ranging from finance to automotive history. Lutzenberger works in public finance and policy and consults on a variety of analytical services. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Saint Mary's College and a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing from California State University, Sacramento.