Tutorial + How-to: Clean and Polish the Metal Sled Runners on a Vintage Wooden Sled

how to clean and polish metal sled runners (1 of 1)

Your kid’s vintage wooden sled is way more awesome than those new-fangled plastic ones.

Of course, the only way to convince HER of that is to show her how that wooden sled, set down on a bank of packed snow, easily outperforms the kinds of sleds that could be mistaken for plastic garbage can lids.

But the metal sled runners on a wooden sled need to be properly conditioned if they’re going to perform their best, and if your wooden sled is clunky, not fast, and sticks instead of gliding, then it’s time to sit down and fix it right up:

how to clean and polish metal sled runners (1 of 3)1. Sand it. After three seasons in the garage, our metal sled runners inevitably start the winter off not rusty, exactly, but black and gunky and rough (think old cast iron pan). Lay out a thick layer of newspapers on the carpet, set your sled upside down on top of them, and then get out a sheet of fairly fine grit sandpaper.

Sand up and down the length of the metal sled runners until most of the black is cleaned off–my kids are responsible for this job, so our sled is NEVER perfect and pristine looking, but it doesn’t have to be to make all the difference in the world for sledding.

how to clean and polish metal sled runners (2 of 3)2. Scour it. Take a couple of pads of steel wool and, again, work your way up and down both lengths of metal sled runners. Whereas the sandpaper cleaned off the runners, the steel wool is going to smooth down any scratches and chips in the metal. When you’re finished with this, the runners should be not only pretty clean, but also pretty shiny and quite smooth, too.

how to clean and polish metal sled runners (3 of 3)3. Polish it. If you have ski wax or car wax, etc., pull this out, or do what I do and use my handmade beeswax polish (I also use this on our table and our handmade toys–it’s VERY versatile!). Use the polish to buff both sled runners, but don’t worry about trying to lay it on super thick; it doesn’t take much to condition the metal and fill in any lingering gouges or scratches.

Now that your runners look like new, this is also a good time to make sure that the wooden components of the sled are still strong and that the sealant hasn’t worn away in any spots, and to replace the sled’s tow strap, if it’s looking worn.

And then go get on that sledding hill! But a word of warning, based on years’ of experience with our beloved sled: be VERY mindful of all the other kids on the hill with their light plastic sleds; compared to them, YOU are a heavy metal and wood wrecking ball!

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.


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