Safety Ramp


We designed and built a safety ramp for Cheri.


Joist Assembly

Decking, Posts, Rails, and Balusters


Design and Prep Work

The safety ramp must be usable for a person walking, walking with a walker, being pushed in a wheelchair, or riding in a power chair.

All basic design features must meet ADA specifications. Most importantly, the ramps must safely drop the elevation to ground level.
This means a level deck at entry point...then a sloped ramp...then a level rest deck...then a sloped ramp.
The house is up on a conventional foundation...the entry point will be the back has a concrete pad outside the door... decking will be built to cover  this slab.
The slab is not a consistent height, nor are the sides perpendicular to the bricks.
This top step is over 18 inches above grade.
The garbage can trellis and decking will be removed and posts will be removed.
The deck was removed...Silas and I cut it into sections with reciprocating saw.
Silas removed the posts.
This shows the  decking covering top of the slab...and the decking would extend to the door.
Joist Assembly

The original handrail had to be removed...Silas and I cut the balusters and removed all material except the posts.
These posts were stout...they will be retained and used to support the alpha joist.
The alpha joist was clamped to the posts to establish the elevation of the decking. 
The tops of the post were cut at 1/2 inch below the rim joist height.
There was very little room here...first cuts were made with circular saw.
Finished with a reciprocating saw
The joist will be placed between posts and steps...
Alpha joist installed...gamma rim joist made level...
concrete pier deck block...wood platform height on the concrete block is
6 inches
Looking down from the door frame...the alpha nailer board, a 1 x 6, was secured from outside of the alpha rim joist
beta joist installed...laying decking
view from inside the house...
A second section of joist...
Main upper deck done...Aimee came by
Nee dropped by...
Max and George
laying out the 5 angled joists for the first angled ramps
Elevation drop of 8 8 feet
Decked...after examination we found that the ground elevation drop was more that we thought...our elevation drop on the ramp was dramatically altered because the ground was running away down hill.
We will probably have to build one more ~8 ft. down ramp...and there must be a horizontal rest ramp...the most effective finish will be a u-turn and a final ramp that loses elevation while the ground gains elevation.
On site, we made some changes to try to accommodate the length of the ramp...
first we shortened the rest area by two 4 feet...and lengthened the final down ramp by two 10 feet.
Here we are measuring the angle of the down ramp...Max made a clever assist...5
and 4 inches...used with the 4 foot Sands level this shows our 5 angle as level
In this upper section the joists had to ride in the 2 x slot...the wood platform of that block is 6 inches off ground
At the bottom the joists rode in the plastic block...2 inches off the  ground
BuildTuff TuffBlock polyolefin plastic deck block

block platform is 2 inches off ground
Adding decking
Side view...8' x 10' upper deck > 4'  x 8'  down ramp > 4' x 4' rest area > 4' x 10' down ramp...
At the bottom will be a 4' x 8'  turn area...the ramp should be low enough that it could be used without hand rails...4 x 4 bumpers would be used.

Built the lower section as a unit...
Installed lower section and laid joists on TuffBloks.
The selected  option uses an aluminum threshold ramp... 34 inch wide, 6.25 inch high, 32.75 inch out
Image of the aluminum ramp.

Decking, Posts, Rails, and Balusters

The posts

The rails...upper and lower...2 x 4 stock
Balusters added
The post will be milled with a rebate that has a 5 inch cheek up from the bottom and 1.5 inch shoulder...there is a 45 chamfer on the bottom outer edge.
Started milling the posts...gang sawed the shoulders at 1.5 inch deep, 5 inches from the bottom...

While prepping the bandsaw to cut the cheeks, there was a catastrophic failure on the tensioning longer serviceable... replacement part ordered.

Looking for solutions...hand sawed the cheeks

Tried jig saw with a long post cutting blade...too aggressive...followed grain too easily...not an option.
...later opted to cut cheeks with circular saw and finish with hand saw....
this left wood in the center...sawed that with Ikidame Ryoba handsaw...and then cleaned the rebate with Nishiki kinari.
Put the 45 chamfer at the chop saw...
The corner post is unique...the unicorn...
Removed the cheek lines and the shoulder line with mortiser...depth of 1.5 inches
Then knocked out the center block and cleaned up the rebate with 35mm Nishiki kinari and a mallet.
Pared shoulder and cheeks with 42mm Nishiki

The rails were pocketed with the Kreg jig. The rails were screwed in with the outside face coplanar with the outside faces of the posts.
The first rail...
Baluster install screwed in with 2 inch...Silas holds the CTD 4 inch spacer...
Balusters run from the top of the upper the bottom of the lower rail
Made the BORG balusters shorter...two 45 cuts to make ends look good.
Angled stop block set up...
With the decking almost done...the addition of posts (3 unicorns and 12 regular posts) rails (30 plus) and balusters (120+ more) begins.
Posts installed...looking down ramp
Posts...looking  up ramp
Max and I got up almost all of the posts...Robert and I finished them up.
Robert is installing the lower rail on a down ramp...
End of a wonderful day...temperature was much improved...
Almost done...have nine more rails and two re-milled deck boards.

Done with decking and horizontal rails...all looks good.
Phase One Complete...decking is all in and stable, all upper and lower rails are in.

Ramp is safe and can be used at this time...with caution.
140 feet run...will go to 142.5 feet when done.

Phase Two
balusters will be finished, garbage can area designed and installed,
aluminum threshold ramp transition to be installed, top hand rails installed.
We decided that an aluminum threshold ramp would be easier to configure that a wood disappearing we ordered one.

The EZ-Access threshold ramp was decently made and horrifically packaged...clearly zero quality control.  We received no manual, no hardware, and an incorrect part.
Truly unacceptable.
Here is the manual.

There are six pieces of threshold that slide together at their roller joint
The panels then slide across the unit.
The far side has a slot that is milled to be below a pre-drilled hole...for the hardware that we do not have...
Here is a screwed down seam...three of the panels had these screws already installed.
My guess is someone sent this one back and it was never checked.
Here is the greatest issue...the flaps start at one inch and progress upward to six inches...this unit however, came with no number 6 had two number five flaps.
Sending this unit back will be a huge time analyzing, it seems we will make do with this set and make up the difference in height...
We will extend the flap plate to lie on our decking...and will work out a plan to secure it to the face of header joist.
The height of the decking at the rest area at the bottom of the ramp is ~8.5 inches.
The 2 x 6 joists are resting in a TufBlok, the lowest joist rest is two inches off the ground, plus 5.5 inches of joist, plus 1 inch of deck.
The connection of the threshold ramp to the wooden ramp....this will occur with transitional two foot ramp added to the lower level rest area...there is a 1.5 inch lip on the decking material.
There will be a 2 x 6 hanger joist, attached to the rim joist...5 bevel along front edge.
The two side joists will be cut with 5 down slope...two feet+ will gain an elevation drop of 2 inches +

The underside of the side joist will be ripped so that they end only with 3.5 inches of wood...the 2 x 4 head joist will be beveled at 5
The planking-threshold connection will made to ease the transition.
Milling the side joists for the 2 foot extension...
Unit installed onto lip of extension...have to rip the last plank of decking.
Wanted to get a screw through the plate into the joist...moved flaps to do this...
After install of transition ramp we had our first test with the wheelchair.  All went well...the U-turn deck is a bit tight...decided to add small "bumpers" on the wooden extension.
Completed extension and transition ramp...lower deck complete.
The aluminum deck makes a total of 42.5 feet of ramp and deck.
James and I put horizontal top rails on the upper deck and the lower deck.
We had to use CTDs to determine where to cut 45 angles.

James used handy object to mark a curvature to saw off with ease a corner.

Final step is to complete balusters...100+ milled and ready for on site milling and install...
James installing balusters...
Silas and Asa...he is drilling holes
Asa and Silas mounting balusters.
Aimee, a great supervisor.
Upper deck area...
Full upper deck view...



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