You hear a lot about backyard rinks but not backyard curling rinks. Well Aaron Kempf managed to MacGyver a mint one in his Peterborough backyard—all at a cost of only about $100.
Kempf fashioned lights across his backyard in the summer so he could ride his pump track—a type of off-road terrain for cycle sport—after his daughter went to bed, and the rink was a way to continue to take advantage of the lights throughout the winter and also a good excuse to get out of the house on winter nights.
Below is his summer cycle track (the rink he built would be constructed on the opposite side of the yard)…
HOW HE MADE THE RINK
“Construction was as simple as I could make it,” says Kempf, who describes himself as “handyish” depending on what the project is and how good the YouTube videos are. “I came across this idea last year and wanted to give it a try. It is basically a landscaping project which I’m comfortable with as it has a high threshold for mistakes. We like having projects on the go so this was a pretty easy one to try.”
At first, Kempf tried just shoveling snow in order to make a rink outline but the first few snow falls they got in November and December all melted. “In early January, I bought a couple 1x4s and made a rough frame for the rink. I then spent a weekend spraying several thin coats of water,” he tells PTBOCanada.
Kempf says the 1x4s did not create a water tight seal so he chipped a bunch of ice from a couple puddles that had formed in the corners of the pump track and used that to fill the gaps. After that, he continued slowly flooding it.
“There were a few leaks along the way,” Kempf says. “Next year, I’ll probably build a sturdier frame and line it with plastic to keep our water usage down. After I had an even coat of ice across the whole rink and it was thick enough to walk on, I installed the rings.”
The outer blue rings are two round plastic tablecloths he got from Dollarama. Kempf measured so each ring was a foot wide and cut the excess off. The red rings are from a single rectangle plastic tablecloth—also from Dollarama. He cut it in half and freehanded two circles with a sharpie and a pair of scissors. After that, he set them on the ice and flooded overtop a few times.
The rink was made on the opposite side of the yard from the pump track
HOW HE MADE THE CURLING STONES
The rocks were made from two $1.25 metal bowls from Dollar Tree—”the bowls at Dollarama were twice the price and too tall,” says Kempf, who punched a hole through the top of half of them with a screwdriver and then cut out a rough circle with a jigsaw.
“I used construction adhesive to attach them together, filled them with concrete and inserted some threaded metal pipe for the handles. Once they were set I trimmed the handles so they wouldn’t stick out passed the edge of the bowl, inserted a small piece of foam on each handle and wrapped them in blue and red hockey tape.”
The last step in creating the rocks required cutting a slit out of foam backer rod with an razer blade and wrapping it around each rock.
“This is to minimize damage to the bowls when they hit each other as I’m not working with an actual chunk of granite like a real curling rock,” explains Kempf. “They are probably half the size and weight of regulation curling rocks but they work well with the dimensions of the rink (about 8’ by 30’).”
After all this ingenuity, it was time to chillax and throw the rocks in the tee (hopefully)…
AARON’S WIFE ALIX GIVING IT A TRY
The family has made good use of the rink thus far, including Aaron’s wife Alix and his folks who are in town from British Columbia for a couple weeks of visiting.
Kempf himself is no Olympic curler or anything—”I have curled once in my life before this, watched it on TV a few times, and course seen the Paul Gross classic Men with Brooms—but that’s besides the point.
He’s not the best skater so a traditional rink didn’t make sense, wanted to take advantage of Canadian winter, of having a backyard (“we moved from a Toronto apartment a few years ago so we are trying to make the most of it”), plus Google made it look relatively easy to build.
And if you build it, they will come…
Die-hard curlers, might say—as Kempf notes—that the ice isn’t perfect. “I didn’t try to pebble it, and anyone with actual curling skills would probably be irritated with the imperfections.”
But like any sport and any rink, you have to start somewhere. And why not hurry hard and sweep on your DIY backyard curling rink in Peterborough?