Brace Yourself: A quick guide to bracing your rink boards

In building your rink you need to determine what you are going to use for your boards and how to brace them. One of the biggest parts of picking your bracing is measuring your slope and knowing if you have to hold back a lot of water or not.  This was one of of the toughest things for me, I knew I had about a 18″ difference from highest to lowest corners and wasn’t trying to bust the bank. You have three choices: build braces, buy braces or simply use stakes or rebar. I suggest you really dig into these options. If you are handy give the build option a whirl. The NiceRink brackets are a really great product and can work with plywood as well.

Build Option

This options is where you can really get creative with your build. The options are endless and below are a few examples of bracing.

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Small brace with rebar

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Tall braces with rebar

Buy Option

The brace below is a major brand producing an amazing product.

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NiceRink bracket

Wood Stake Option

This is the simplest option but you need to be careful when it comes down to your slope.

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Simple wooden stake

Sport Court/Pond/Lake Rink Build

If you happen to be building your rink on your sport court, pond, lake or some other body of water, you can still build boards. You can go about this using two methods previously discussed. You can build your braces or you can buy your braces. If you go the build route you would build just like we showed above. On the other hand, if you want to buy your braces both NiceRink and IronSleek have a version of their brackets that can be installed on flat surfaces like a pond or sport court. Each bracket also allows you to reinforce with a stake or rebar.

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NiceRink

Got Slope? How to measure the slope of your rink area

One of the biggest issues when trying to build your rink is the slope of the area where you want to build. Not checking this before building could potentially cause you major headaches when you get to the flooding stage. There are a few ways to to check your slope. The first is the string and stake method and the other is the more expensive method by utilizing a laser level. You can usually rent a laser level from your local tool rental shop. If you want to use the laser level, make sure the level has the ability cover the distance you are trying to measure. Some are meant for short measurements and some for longer.

String and Stake

What’s needed for this method? A tape measure, marker, a string long enough to each your corners and a minimum of two stakes, but Ideally enough stakes for each corner you are checking. Additionally, you could use paper and pen/pencil to draw out the site so you don’t forget the different measurements.

  1. Identify the highest corner (where you think it is at least) and place a stake there.
  2. Take and tie one end of the string to the stake at a minimum of 4″ off the ground. (This is typical ice depth for your outdoor rink)
  3. You would now take the string and run it out to each of the corners where you would have ideally placed stakes in the ground to help this process along. It’s not necessary but it helps.
  4. At each corner you would pull the string as tight as possible and place a line level on the string. Then adjust the string up and/or down until the bubble is centered on the level.
  5. Once the bubble is level, mark the stake appropriately. Then take your tape measure and measure the distance from the mark on the stake to the ground, not to the top of the grass but directly to the ground. This will represent the ice depth at this stake.
  6. Repeat at each of the other corners to get a good perspective on the slope of your site.
  7. Optionally you can document the whole thing so you know what you are dealing with.

Laser Level

Whats needed for this method? A tape measure, a piece of plywood  or something that the laser would show up against for measurement and laser level. Again additionally, you could use paper and pen/pencil to draw out the site so you don’t forget the different measurements.  You would perform this method similar to the string and stake method except replace the string for the laser level. The guys from NiceRink have a quick video on this process.

  1. Identify the highest corner (where you think it is at least) and place the laser level there at a minimum of 4″ off the ground. Pointing it at the first corner you want to measure.
  2. Go to the corner where you want to take your measurement and hold up your piece of plywood so that laser is hitting it.
  3. Measure from the ground up to the dot from the laser. This will represent the ice depth at this stake.
  4. Repeat at each of the other corners to get a good perspective on the slope of your site.
  5. Optionally you can document the whole thing so you know what you are dealing with.