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Homemade Snow Chains

by Helen Harvey

Tire chains, also known as snow chains, are placed around the tires of a vehicle's drive wheels to provide the maximum traction possible in the challenging driving conditions of snow and ice. Chains are sold in pairs and must be the correct size for the size of tires on a vehicle. They can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 per pair for a car, and significantly more for larger vehicles. However, it is possible to make your own snow chains for a fraction of the price, using some basic tools and simple math.

Calculate the amount of chain you will need to make a pair of chains. Measure the diameter of one of your drive tires in inches. Multiply by 3.14 and double it. Measure the width of your tire in inches and multiply by 8 and double it. Add the two totals together. Divide this number by by 12 to find the number of feet of chain you will need for a pair of snow chains. Round up any remaining inches to add another foot of chain to your total. Add another foot of chain for good measure. It is better to have a little spare chain than not enough.

Take a look at pictures of snow chains to get an idea of what you need to create.

Use bolt cutters to cut your length of 3/8 inch chain into four chain lengths. You'll need two lengths for each of the two tires. Make one tire chain at a time.

Lay two chain length pieces next to each other on the floor. Using the tire width measurement, cut eight chain width sections from each of your lengths of chain.

Divide your remaining chain lengths by 8 to calculate the spacing of the width chains. Mark the chains with a grease pencil to ensure that the width chains will be placed evenly along the length.

Move your two chain lengths so that they are lying apart by the width of the tire. Lay your width pieces between the two lengths at the points where you marked with the grease pencil.

Join the widths of chain to the lengths of chain by cutting the last chain loop at the ends of each width, prying the loops open with pliers and passing them through the nearest loop of the chain length, closing the loops and welding back together.

Join the two chain lengths together by cutting the last chain loop at one end of each length, prying the loops open with pliers and passing them through the loop at the other end of the of the chain length, closing the loops and welding back together. grind any rough edges that have occurred as a result of the welding.

Your snow chain is now finished and you must repeat the process to make a second one.

Fit your snow chains to check for a good fit.

Items you will need

About the Author

Helen Harvey began her writing career in 1990 and has worked in journalism, writing, copy-editing and as a consultant. She has worked for world-class news sources including Reuters and the "Daily Express." She holds a Master of Arts in mass media communications from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

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