November 2, 2020/ / ARTICLES/ Comments: 10

When the first wave of COVID-19 hit New York City hard and many of us holed up in our shoebox-sized apartments, the childhood dream of a backyard mini-ramp emerged from skaters’ collective unconscious.

What better way to waste a day than finally learning how to pivot-fakie or backside lipslide on transition while drinking adult bevs with your mates?

I talked to a few folks from around the country who turned their backyard pipe-dream into a reality during the pandemic, building ramps ranging from simple two-foot-tall affairs to labyrinthian mini-bowl and spine wonderlands.

They show us that if you have some spare space, time, and roughly $800+ bucks (or are willing to liberate some plywood and 2x4s from a construction site), you too can live out your humble fantasy.

photo by chris andersen

Josh Matlock – DIY builder

What’s your ramp’s name and location?
Pepper’s Playland is in my backyard in Berkeley, California, where I live with my daughter and girlfriend/baby mama. When COVID hit I was coming off of a five-month vacation. We were bumming. I was mopey. We rent from a family friend so I asked, “Do you care if I build a mini ramp for Pepper, for my seven-year-old daughter?” It’s been great.

What are the dimensions, materials, and features?
10 feet wide, 2.4 tall, with slides and a kiddy pool.

What’s your estimated cost?
$800 bucks total. I picked up wood off the streets and a friend gave me some wood that he had lying around.

photo by chris andersen

How was the build process?
Me and my seven-year-old daughter built it together. She’ll go out in a nice dress and sparkle-shoes and grab the hammer. She knows how to hammer! We spent a couple of weeks together building it. We are always trying to expand her imagination… no limitations. She’s being homeschooled now. She can go and skate when she wants to. She can ride her bicycle. We want her to know that you don’t have to be a boy to enjoy the things the boys like.

How has it changed your and her life?
She’ll get really into it. She can pump back and forth. She’s gotten back into roller skating. We have good sessions. I feel fortunate. Family life… work-life… it’s really good.

Nathan Janssen – skater and documentarian

What’s your ramp’s name and location?
The Dojo. Port Orchard, Washington.

Dimensions, materials, and features?
The ramp is twelve feet wide and three feet tall with a one-foot extension. It’s made with wood, and metal coping, with a kaleidoscope paint pattern.

photo by steven worley

Estimated cost?
A little under $1,000.

How was the build process?
I had help with a fellow master carpenter and ramp builder homie named Ian Wilhelm, and a bunch of homies. I just bought beer and pizza and we knocked it out in like six hours! He actually builds ramps on the side under his company called Unity Builders.

What’s it been like having your backyard training ground?
It’s a dream come true! I’ve felt like I’ve progressed so much in an aspect of skating that I was once unfamiliar with and sketched out by. I’ve definitely got a new love and respect for transition skating.

How has it changed your life?
Where do I even begin? It’s the best! Nothing beats a bonfire, a BBQ, and a ramp jam with the buds! Plus you never get snaked by scooters!

Andrew Durgin-Barnes – artist

What’s your ramp’s name and location?
The “Fernery Ramp” because it’s built on an abandoned fernery here in Deland, Florida.

Dimensions, materials, and features?
Six-teen feet wide, five feet high, with a seven-foot stench. One section was gonna have marble on top but right now there’s no coping, just wood, which is surprisingly fun too.

Estimated cost?
About $3,500. I used that Skate Paint stuff instead of Skatelite or Gator Skins or anything for now.

How was the build process?
In the intense heat while being sucked alive by mosquitoes and stung by fire ants. My dad helped a little bit too. But probably did 80% by myself.

What’s it been like having your backyard training ground?
Really fun, it’s helped me get a lot better at transition being that I’m an old gap and rail monkey from the late ’90s.

How has it changed your life?
It’s been an awesome learning experience and good exercise. I can’t wait to build another, even better, one!

Joel Jutagir – Metro Skateboarding

What’s your ramp’s name and location?
The Widowmaker. Just kidding. For now, the working title is Metro Ramp or my friend Scott has a funny one in “Joeltopia.” Its located on our ranch in Castro Valley, California.

Dimensions, materials, and features?
The whole deal hovers around three to four feet. It’s 40 feet by 40 feet, made of plywood with a birch surface. It’s laid out like two small capsule bowls with a spine in the middle. The spine gives way to a slappy style concrete banked ledge. There are banks on one side with a loveseat style gap-over transfer on the opposing side, escalators down on the left-hand side and hip-in-process to the right.

Estimated cost?
You know that old saying about boats… a boat is a hole in the water, surrounded by wood, into which you pour your money. It’s like that, minus the water. I don’t even want to think about it [laughs]. All I know is a check comes at the end of the month, new materials are purchased, we go to work, then repeat the process.

photo by scott zorn

How was the build process?
Just taking it piece by piece. Still building. It wouldn’t have been possible without these amazing friends, Willie Bloxham, Scott Hewitt, Jeff Palmer, Morgan Foster, Daniel Dubois, Silver Bowl Crew, Juan, and Jeremy. Thanks all!

What’s it been like having your backyard training ground?
45 years old and I feel like a young buck, learning new stuff daily. It’s the best.

How has it changed your life (or not)?
It’s easier to get people out to Castro Valley as a meetup spot. I get inspired by seeing my friends ripping. If I see some crazy idea in a vid, I’ll walk out, put on some tunes and try it right then and there. It’s also sparked the idea to film a sequel to our shop’s old ramp videos. As soon as the rainy seasons here, we’re gonna start filming Milk & Cookies 3 “Generations”, which will focus on the next generation of Diablo Valley skaters. We’re this close to having ourselves a finished HQ. I couldn’t be more excited for the coming year.

photo by michelle blade

Andrew Martin Scott – designer, curator, founder of Needles and Pens

What’s your ramp’s name and location?
The “PEACE & VEGETABLE RIGHTS” ramp, located in Los Angeles, California.

Dimensions, materials, and features?
Twelve feet wide by two feet tall with four-foot transitions. Steel coping, ply, and masonite layer. Skatelite was too pricey for my budget.

Estimated cost?
Around $1,000

photo by michelle blade

How was the build process?
Built with a jigsaw, circular saw, drill, cold beers, and a lot of love.

What’s it been like having your backyard training ground?
It’s been great having a backyard ramp, especially with all of the skateparks being closed because of COVID. I’ve wanted a backyard ramp since I was a kid, which is quite a long time ago at this point – I’m 46 years old [laughs]! It’s kind of a bucket list check-off and a fantasy come to life.

How has it changed your life?
It’s been amazing being able to just go in the backyard and skate in the comforts of my own home. I’m learning so many of my old tricks back, it feels great. I recommend everyone build one!

Related Posts


  1. sick kontent

    November 2, 2020 3:29 pm

    sick kontent

  2. need stickers

    November 3, 2020 7:52 am

    just got a new laptop and wondering where i can get some free jenkem stickers

    • Jenkem Staff

      November 3, 2020 10:16 am

      order anything from the site and we’ll throw them in.
      then again i think we’re mostly sold out of anything.
      in that case wait a week or two.

  3. Jabroni

    November 3, 2020 1:53 pm

    That skate paint shit sounds potentially interesting.

    What’s less interesting is that for an east coast skate mag I know two of the dudes who built ramps in this article and I live in Nor Cal.

  4. ZMB

    November 3, 2020 2:56 pm

    Good stuff. I hope you guys do some more detailed write ups on homeyard ramps. There’s a lot of info that never gets mentioned about building DIY ramps and almost nil on ramp upkeep. It’d be cool to do some follow ups on these ramps.

Leave a comment