How to build a Homeboni (aka Rink Rake, Home Zamboni)

47 thoughts on “How to build a Homeboni (aka Rink Rake, Home Zamboni)

  1. Scott

    Now that’s a ‘how to’! Nicely done, and with pictures – my favorite kind of read. That will be a tremendous help to someone wondering searching cyberspace for a homeboni recipe.

  2. kevmac

    My version of the HomeBoni (I like that!) uses the threaded type of pipe (grey 1/2″ stuff) typically used for underground sprinker systems. Maybe I should upgrade to the 3/4″ PVC piping and try that out – although I’m coming off a well/pump system. 🙁

  3. Arlen

    Thanks for the post. I have built this rake, and it works reasonably well. However, the biggest problem I have is with the towel.

    It’s heavy when wet, gets frozen to the ice on colder days, and does not handle the skate snow very well after a practice session (tends to build up then roll out in chunks). It works fantastic when the ice is well swept beforehand, and the weather is not too cold; Never had smoother ice. But both of those do not occur very often for me.

    I’ve got back to just dragging the open hose across the ice.
    Any ideas or suggestions?

  4. Joe Post author

    Thanks for the comment Arlen. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble. If you think about a real Zamboni at a rink, it’s build to scrape the ice, pick up the shavings, carry them into the storage area in the front, and THEN drag the hot water behind to leave a smooth surface. When you watch a Zamboni drive across the ice, most of that process is done underneath the machine where you can’t see it. But essentially, the ice that is getting the hot water towel treatment has already been scraped down and cleaned off. Your homeboni, acting as simply the rear towel portion of a real Zamboni, must also have the ice shoveled, swept, or otherwise cleared of ice shavings for it to work effectively. I apologize that I wasn’t clear enough in my direction. But until we can make a $20 homeboni system that removes the snow immediately before the hot water hits it, we’ll have to rely on a shovel to clear the ice before applying the homeboni treatment.

    As for the towel sticking to the ice, as long as you don’t leave it in one place for longer than a few seconds, and as long as you have water running over the towel, it won’t stick regardless of temp. I’ve shattered a homeboni shaft after trying to pick it up too fast without having the water run, so I understand the frustration. But again, if you think about a real Zamboni, it too would have the same problem of a sticky towel if they stopped the water flow. But they have the benefit of constantly-running hot water, so it never happens.

    Best of luck whatever you decide!

  5. Joe Post author

    Hi Michelle – the hole size depends on your hose’s flow rate. I’d suggest starting small and testing it out before you hit the rink. If you start small, you can always go bigger if need be.

  6. Ken

    Hey Arlen,
    I am been using two pieces of rubber base molding on my surfacer (can get a 6′ sheet at Home depot for $10 and cut it and half)- I connected the two pieces (so that one follows behind the other on the ice) with zip ties (through holes that I punched in the base molding with a paper puncher) – the ridges on the bottom of the base grab the ice pieces well so that they are melted – have been using this for 5 years now and it does a great job and is a good alternate to a towel
    Hope this helps

  7. kenB


    I have to laugh at your idea because last year I went to Menards and bought the same thing to make mine- with the same thought that the grooves would pull the ice. I would love to see some pics of your finished product as I never got around to making mine as my rink liner had a hole and it never ended up getting completed. This year the rink is perfect except right now I am having problems with sticky ice.

    -ken 2

  8. Jon

    What is the brass fitting for ? Can’t you go right into the 3.4 MHT PVC.. Went to Home Depot and could not find the brass 3/4 FHT x 3/4 FHT… thanks! Jon

  9. Wayne

    Store SKU # 549606 – Watts 3/4 in Brass Swivel Hose Adapter, at Home Depot, hopefully they’ll have it tomorrow when I go to my local store, but its on the website.

  10. Jim


    Thank you for posting this with such great details. I will try to build one.

    Ken, I too would love to see a photo of how the rubber base molding works on your surfacer.


  11. Kevin D

    How is the towel fastened to the PVC? A zip tie through a hole in the towel and a hole in the PVC? Great idea! Kevin Rochester NY 32×48

  12. James M

    I just finished making this homeboni and used it tonight. I could not get a slip cap that was not threaded (I used non threaded 3/4″ PVC) so I had to get a threaded slip cap. In order for the threaded model to work I had to get a male adapter for both ends where the cap goes, as one end is smooth to attach to the smooth PVC end and the threads accept my threaded slip cap. The wet towel was heavy and the towel scrunched together on the ice. I am thinking of trying a chamois (sham wow)as they retain shape and would be lighter than a towel. The ice resurface with the homeboni was amazing compared to open hose spraying and dries much quicker.

  13. Joe Post author

    Kevin and James: I used zip ties to attach my towel to my bottom PVC pieces, but then just took a couple pieces of duct tape and ran them along the top of the bottom PVC piece to hold the zip ties in place. This keeps the towel from moving around, giving you uniform distribution of water.

  14. Brent

    I have built an add-on for the homeboni. It is a backpack that carries a 5 gallon water cooler and as a hose attachment to hook into the homeboni. I fill it with hot water from the tub faucet so it only takes about 20 seconds, then carry it down to the rink and slap it on and away I go. I get about two passes on a 40 ft rink, so divide that by what you have and do the math. Only problem is weight about 50-60lbs when full. However it doesn’t stay full that long. I find that the hot water like a real zamboni makes the ice like glass and it is ready to skate on in 15-20 minutes. I am going to give out a parts list and instructions on this but need another day or two to get it all together. I think after using an old backpack I had and other materials, it was only like 30-40 bucks to make it. It beats draggin out a hose and also has very hot water, as long as your back can take it.

  15. Lonnie Werstiuk


    When you get those instructions made up for the back pack, wanna send me a copy of them….

    would really appreciate it as I hate having to haul out 75 feet of house for 20 mins of flooding….plus the back pack would give me a good work out too 🙂


  16. Wes

    I have tried the PVC style flooder i find its too light i used 3/4 ” black pipe (steel) i find it leaves the ice smoother instead of using a towle i bought 4 or 5 Sham Wow rip offs and sewed them together and around the pipe and then used an old inner tube to around the leading edge of the shammy to reduse wear and tare i have been told that burlap or canvas is the best for the flooder but the shammy works great

  17. Alain

    Thanks a lot for the instructions!

    I built a zamboni rake with them and CANNOT believe how smooth the ice is. I used it for the first time tonight after my son and I skated. It took just a few minutes to resurface our 28X28 rink. I just went back out and the ice is as smooth as glass!

    The only drawback is that the towel gets so heavy that the rake becomes a bit difficult to manipulate since 3/4″ PVC is somewhat flexible. I’d be curious to see how one made of copper or steel. But the results are really worth it.

    Thanks again!

  18. Joe Post author


    There is someone on the Yahoo group who made his out of steel. I’ll likely build a second one after this season is over so that I can compare. The build is nearly the same, just with heavier-duty materials.


  19. Arlen

    Thanks for the tips. Yes, I noticed not to stop on the ice for more than a second or two, or the towel will freeze to the ice. I do shovel the ice after a skate, but there is still shavings the shovel can’t get.

    The real difference was hot water. cold water did not melt the shavings fast enough with the towel, so after some 20 feet I was getting clumps of frozen slush. hot water fixed that.

    As for the heavy towel, I cut it down to just a 4″ depth wrapped around the length of the bottom of the homeboni. that took care of the heavy towel problem, as it was now very short. that also helped with the freezing to the ice problem as it was closer to the hot water source.

    I’ll try Ken’s rubber base board idea, but the ice is looking fantastic with the above changes.

    thanks for posting the homeboni.

  20. Karen

    Built my homeboni according to your directions and it works great! It is a bit hard maneuvering all that hose though, so I am now working on a revision….using a 50 gallon barrel on a sled, a much shortened handle braced with wood. My idea is that this can be dragged behind you on the ice (once the barrel is full of hot water). I have seen this done with a wagon, but I think a sled will slide easier on the ice than using something with wheels. I will let you know how it goes.

  21. Jeff

    Used your directions for my basic set up. Used two chamois stitched together. Since our rink is on a lake, it would require 500 ft of hose to get host water to the ice. So, I used a 5 gal water cooler jug in a backpack to haul hot water from my house. IT takes about 5 trips to cover the shovel area, but worked very well. Had a mild leak where the jug connects to the hose, so I had a wet butt. Will try wrapping a towels around the fixture, if tightening does not help. Will try it again tomorrow after it quits snowing here. Thanks for this great idea. This will provide alot of fun for mine and neighboring families over the years.

  22. Don

    Brent- I would love to see the instructions and see how the water comes from the hose etc. I love using hot water but currently have to connect 2 – 75 foot hoses together first. The tank would be great.

  23. kevin

    We used a piece of ruber roofing instead of the towel. It leaves the ice smoother and it doesn’t freeze ( I leave my homeboni outside).

  24. Karen

    I have a few suggestions that may help for people who are having trouble with the towel bunching up, sticking to the ice ect. I took my towel and cut it in half. Then I sewed a 1 1/2 inch slip or opening along the long sides of each towel Then I just sewed one of the ends shut. Once done, the towels slip over each arm of the homeboni and I attach them with a zip tie to the middle handle. They just slip over each arm just like a sock. It prevents the towels from getting bunched up and also distributes the water very well because the water soaks the towel, not the ice. It also avoids the possibility of the hot water making any holes in the ice. I have been using mine for a few weeks and it works great!!

  25. Scottb

    One suggestion to get hot water is attach your hose to the hot water drain on your hot water heater… I do that and I have a trash can that I coil my hose up in my basement to store the hose..

  26. Mike

    I followed your instructions with some slight adjustments and it works great! I used galvanized steel pipe instead of PVC, so the bottom piece does not bend. Also, I used one 8″ section for the handle, and then put the valve on the end, eliminating the need for two smaller pieces.

    I have not attached a towel yet; I would love to know more about the backpack and use of rubber base molding (as others said above, I can’t visualize what you guys are talking about). Any tips would be appreciated! My e-mail: mike(at)

  27. Carl

    Would love the instructions for the backpack, if available. I am going to get this put together while I am working on a plumbing project in the home and would like to add the backpack to the specs. Thank you so much and I am looking forward to getting this all put together.

  28. Julie

    Thank you for the very easy to read and print out page! Love it!

    As a side note we put a hot water valve outside and the hot water melts the ice just enough too make it soooooo much smother!

  29. Matt

    This is awesome!!! Although i do have a couple of questions that, since it is made out of PVC instead of metal is this going to be durable or will it become brittle in the cold and crack easily? Also after using this will you have to drain it, like you do with a hose, or do u leave it and just put it in a warm area like a house?
    The reason I ask is because I had 2 hockey nets for my backyard ice rink last year, one made out of metal the other made of PVC pipe and the metal one took a lot of wear and tear ending the season full of dents, but the PVC net cracked as soon as the first shot was taken at it and im considered with the combination of cold weather and water pressure that the same thing may happen to this “rink rake”

  30. Rob

    Hi Jeff
    We are in the same position.It is about 500 to 600 feet from the house down to the rink. What size is your rink?
    Our rink is 40′ by 60′. I am trying to estimate how many trips with a 5 gallon tank it will take to resurface the rink.
    I love this site…my first year doing a rink

  31. Joe Proulx Post author

    @Matt – You are correct that PVC can get brittle and break in the cold. But while that’s true, there’s no reason why you can’t use the same PVC homeboni for years and years so long as you’re careful. PVC is good to use because it’s cheap, easy for the novice to handle, and light. Our sister company (Elite Backyard Rinks) sells a fully-built steel unit that will probably last through nuclear war, but it’s heavy and $180. I’ve found that as long as you drain it after each use (and yes, store it somewhere warmer than 32 degrees) that a PVC homeboni can last years.

  32. Pingback: How to Build a Backyard Hockey Rink

  33. Greg

    I construct a 65′ x 40′ rink with boards and mesh in our back yard. I laser leveled the back yard and, when 6-8 inches of snow falls, compact the snow, level it off, and start flooding by garden hose and purpose built end to achieve about 2″ of ice. I then switch to a modified version of your design.
    I’ve modified the plastic and use 1/2″ metal instead. I’ve also added wheels by drilling and tapping the metal plugs to accept a bolt through the wheel, and use an drag (more on this later). I also have the benefit of using an outdoor boiler to provide unlimited hot water which I use about 50% of the time, and just before we skate.
    For the drag: I start out using a piece of old carpeting. The carpeting is fairly stiff and doesn’t flex into the dips in the ice. Once the ice is flat, I then switch to an old zamboni drag that I was able to get from the local indoor rink. This works very well, especiall when using hot water.
    One final tip: Make sure the ice is totally clean when flooding. I scrape mine, and then use a power broom to sweep the ice before hot water flooding. Most of the problems with outdoor rinks come from the ice dust left in the skate tracks. If this dust is flooded over with cold water, the dust will cause a slight swelling in the rink surface, and if continual flooding is done, will cause a weak spot in the surface. After I flood the first time with hot, I will then flood 4 or 5 times with cold, and then 2 or 3 times with hot again.

  34. A Dub

    I built this thing in 15 minutes yesterday and I will tell you its works perfectly. PVC is light enough to carry back and forth to the house so I recomend going that route. Copper is expensive and really, your using the thing for like 20-30 minutes a day, pvc is fine. For the towel behind, I used a commercial winter floor mat that I found at Home Depot for $11 right you walk right in the store. I cut abour 6 inches off and popped some holes in it to drag behind. I used 2 old shoelaces to loop over the PVC and a rubber band to keep them in place. The floor mat doesn’t absorb that much water so its a perfect for this job.

  35. Patrick Toal

    I built one of these last year for my backyard rink, and it worked fantastically. I think you’re being threatened frivolously. You’re not selling anything, only providing instructions for how to create something. I don’t believe that this is patent infringement. I think the patent holder is just acting as a troll to try to increase their business.

    I’m disappointed that they persuaded you to take this post down. I certainly will never buy a product from them.

  36. Drew


    I am getting ready to install my ice rink for the first time this winter. Shoot me an email with your writeup, I would enjoy seeing your design versus how I am thinking of building mine.

    Also, I agree with Patrick Toal, I will NEVER by a product from Abel and I will go out of my way to bad mouth them so none of my Boston MA backyard rink builder friends will buy anything from them either! This is a small community of “ice nuts” and there is no room for this BS!

  37. Drew

    Here is the the best part…just google able ice patent…you will find expert drawings! I will use those to help me build my own DIY version.

  38. Jacob Simas

    Hello my name is jacob and iv been reading peoples ideas and i wanted to know if someone could please send me the directions on how to make your own ice resurfacer and what you will need to purchase it would be much apprieated thank you ,,Jacob my emil is thanks to who can do that for me

  39. Jason

    Hi everyone,

    Definitely agree with Drew and Patrick. Nothing is wrong with giving a description for a patented process, as it is in the public domain. What isn’t allowed is selling that product which you aren’t. They are just acting as bullies but totally understand, rather remove it then deal with the BS of their lawyers and spend the money to ultimately prove them wrong!

    How are other companies allowed to sell their versions though? Is it just the “towel” that they have the rights to, and if you don’t sell it with that, you are clear?

    Would love the instructions, but agree, that patent is gold for making it yourself! hahaha

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