For 21 years and counting, sports writer Jack Falla has maintained a hockey rink at his home in Natick, Massachusetts. His 60-by-35-foot layout, dubbed the Bacon Street Omni, has become a neighborhood institution. For an inside look at Falla's labor of love, read his book Home Ice: Reflections on Backyard Rinks and Frozen Ponds (McGregor, 2000). It includes a detailed chapter on how to build one of your own. Here are the basics:
Construct a plywood-sided corral lined with plastic. Falla recommends 3/4-inch plywood and 6-mil plastic. Come winter, flood it with water. Voilà: instant ice rink.
Start with 14 four-by-eight-foot pieces of plywood. Cut seven of them in half lengthwise, to serve as the sides and the rear; use the taller boards for the backstop and corners.
Staple the plastic above the waterline on the inside of your rink. Twenty-four hours ahead of a subfreezing cold front, flood the rink with three to five inches of water.
After a few days, the ice should be ready to skate. For a smooth surface, scrape with a shovel and resurface with a fresh layer of water.
Rather not spend the weekend at Home Depot? Get NiceRink's Rink-in-a-Box ($319), a DIY kit for a 20-by-40-foot backyard pond. www.nicerink.com