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I have two 1x8x12 ft treated lumber boards with metal attachment on one end to level with a doorway, which was made as a ramp for a riding lawnmower, to get in and out of a shed. I would like to use it as a ramp for a wheelchair. The raised end is 7.5 inches. Would this be a safe setup for this purpose?

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  • Are the 1x8s used to just prevent the wheels from sinking in the dirt?
    – crip659
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 16:41
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    Short answer: hell no. There are standards for wheelchair ramps. A wheelchair is not a riding mower. If the chair tips and throws the person out of it, the insurer will pay and then, the insurer will sue you because that's how insurance works. Build to standard and you have a pretty good defense against that lawsuit. Commented May 30, 2023 at 20:50
  • Everything is fine... until it isn't. Then it's too late. Learn how to do it "for real" and stick to the proper method.
    – gnicko
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 23:39

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A flat 1x8 is absolutely not suitable for human loads, especially over a 12 foot span. I'm amazed that it carried a lawn mower without snapping. It must've bent into a taco under that weight.

However, boxed ramps built from 1x4 using good technique would carry the load just fine.

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  • I looked up a typical self-propelled mower on Home Depot. 80 lbs. A pair of 1x8s can handle 80 lbs. A riding mower can be easily 300 lbs. or more - not counting the rider - that I wouldn't trust on a pair of 1x8s. And definitely not a person in a wheelchair - again need to allow for 200lbs, possibly a lot more depending on the size of the person and the type of wheelchair (small folding vs. motorized scooter). Commented May 30, 2023 at 16:52
  • I wouldn't have expected a ramp being used for a push mower. I suppose it's possible.
    – isherwood
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 16:55
  • A ramp for a push mower is perfectly normal - if the original shed was say 2' above grade, I wouldn't want to lift 80 lbs up and down each time. But now I see the original post actually says "riding lawnmower". Which means: "Yikes, you moved a riding lawnmower on 1x8s!" Commented May 30, 2023 at 17:13
  • The post mentions a 7.5" rise. I guess if a person is disabled.
    – isherwood
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 18:08
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Yes you can make a ramp with 1x8s... this will not bend:

enter image description here

I strongly recommend adding "guide rails" on both sides to prevent the wheelchair from falling off the ramp (in blue):

enter image description here

It's just a bit of wood, say 1" high, on the sides.

The guides are necessary because a wheelchair can't reverse direction in a straight line: the small front wheels have to flip around first. So if he climbs the ramp and then has trouble, or his hands slip on the wheels, or he changes his mind and backs down... The wheelchair will first jerk to the side as the front wheels flip around, then it will roll back down the ramp.

If the ramp is narrow and without "guide rails" on the sides, this jerk when changing direction from forward to back means he will fall off. With guides the front wheels will simply bump into one and get stuck.

So the ramp should be at least the width of the wheelchair plus about 10cm on each side to allow the front wheels to flip around without getting stuck on the guides on the sides. About 80-100cm.

The width of the ramp should cover the full width of the door because you don't want one of the front wheels to miss the ramp when exiting the house.

The picture above is basically what I built for my father when he was in a wheelchair. I used plywood instead, but you get the idea. He had no trouble using it alone. The little guides on the sides were extremely useful, he bumped into them all the time instead of falling off the ramp.

With a wheelchair the weight will be on the wheels which are on the sides of the ramp so you probably don't need an extra support in the middle. However if someone is pushing the wheelchair, they will walk in the center, so an extra support there would be nice.

You could put the planks the other way but this will leave a hole in the middle, and that's really not good for a wheelchair:

enter image description here

...because if a wheel falls off the ramp, even if it's only 7 inches, you can expect the person on the wheelchair to fall off.

While you can leave a full ramp there and everyone can walk on it, if you leave this contraption with the hole in the center and someone exits while being a bit distracted, they'll probably break an ankle or two...

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