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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > How-To Articles > Building a Snow Gauge

Building a Snow Gauge

During the winter months, what could be more fun than playing out in the snow, drinking hot cocoa and watching large flakes fall slowly from the sky?

Well, nothing really. But here's a very simple project that should at least place in the top 10 things to do during the next snow. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Clamps
  • Drill/driver
  • Drill bits
  • Hammer
  • Hearing protection

Materials

  • 1x8 pine lumber (or 1x6)
  • 2" wood screws
  • Speed square
  • 6 eavestrough spikes
  • Number stencils (optional)
  • Black permanent marker
  • Exterior polyurethane finish

Choosing the Lumber

In this project, you have the choice of using either 1x6 or 1x8 lumber. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. How much snow fall do you typically get?
  2. How tall will your gauge need to be?

If your gauge will be 3' 6" tall or more, we suggest a wider bottom panel for more stability. Thus, you should choose 1x8 lumber. Otherwise 1x6 should be fine.

Good idea: If you plan on decorating your snow gauge you may want to use 1x8 lumber. Wider boards will allow more room for artwork next to your snow measurements.

Cut list

Part Material Length Quantity
A. Front panel 1x8 or 1x6 (L)" 1

You choose the length of the front panel. Make it long enough to measure the deepest snow expected in your area.

If you want the gauge to measure up to 24" of snow make this board 24". Call this measurement "L". The length you choose for your front panel will determine the length of the other two boards.

Part Material Length Quantity
B. 45° brace 1x8 or 1x6 (L x .75)" 1

To determine the length of board "B" multiply "L" by .75. Round the result up to the next even number.

Example: You chose 48" as your front panel length. 48" x .75= 36". 36" is the length of your 45° brace.

Part Material Length Quantity
C. Bottom panel 1x8 or 1x6 (L x .75)" 1

Cut your bottom panel the same length as your 45° brace.

With all three boards cut to length, cut a 45° angle out of each end of the 45° brace and out of one end of the front panel.

The 45° brace should look similar to this:

45° brace

The front panel should look similar to this:

45° cut

The 45° angle is cut into the end of the front panel to avoid snow accumulating on top of it, falling off to the front and skewing your snow measurements.

Assembling Your Snow Gauge

  1. Clamp the bottom panel (C) flat onto your workbench.
  2. Place the bottom edge of the front panel (A) flush with the bottom face of the bottom panel (C).
  3. Predrill pilot holes through the front panel (A) and into the bottom panel (C). Use 2" screws to attach the panels together.
  4. Place the 45° brace (B) between the two panels.
  5. With each bevel flush against its respective panel, predrill holes through the front panel (A) and into the brace (B). Use 2" screws to attach the pieces.
  6. Unclamp the bottom panel.
  7. Predrill holes through the bottom panel (C) and into the brace (B). Use 2" screws to attach the pieces.
Three different views of a completed snow gauge.

Three different views of a completed snow gauge.

Final Touches

  1. If you are going to stain your gauge, do so now and allow it to dry completely.
  2. Using a tape measure or ruler, transfer inch marks along the full length of your front panel.
  3. Using a speed square and permanent marker, draw lines at each inch mark, leaving a space for inch numbers.
  4. Now use your number stencils and permanent marker to write every other number at its respective line. You can choose to write the odd or the even numbers. You may also opt to freehand the numbers onto your gauge for a more personal touch.
  5. Go back and fill in the other numbers using a smaller size type face. Making the odd and even numbers different sizes allows you to make the large numbers larger than if they were all the same size. Thus, you can see measurements from a greater distance.
  6. Decorate the gauge as you wish using markers, paint, etc.
  7. Drill six 5/16" holes into the bottom panel. These will be used to fasten the snow gauge to the ground with eavestrough spikes.
  8. As a protective measure, use an exterior grade polyurethane finish to cover the snow gauge. Allow to dry.
A completed 48" snow gauge.

A completed 48" snow gauge.

Finding a Good Spot for Your Gauge

The key to having accurate measurements is to find a good open spot to place your snow gauge. The gauge should also be within sight distance from a window.

After you have found the perfect spot for your gauge, use a hammer to drive the 6 eavestrough spikes through the bottom plate and into the ground. If you'll be using this gauge on a solid surface, you can use bolts or screws to attach it securely.

It's easiest to install the snow gauge prior to any snowfall. However, if snow has already began to fall, simply clear a spot large enough for the base of the gauge and slide the front panel against the snow without disturbing its depth. Then nail in the eavestrough spikes. Fill in around the gauge with snow to prevent new snow from drifting into the open area inside the gauge and skewing your measurements.

Sit back, drink a cup of cocoa, watch the snow fall and easily measure how much has accumulated.

Back To Lowe's For Pros

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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