Brandon Cardone is the designer of East Coast Terminal - one of the largest indoor skate parks in the eastern US. Using all of this knowledge and experience, Cardone has written a 54 page book on building large skate ramps that is available for download in PDF format for US $8 from his site. The book is written in a very friendly and approachable style which should make true beginners more comfortable. Unfortunately, the book does have some problems that distract from its charm and insight.
The book starts with a personable intro. In the first chapter Cardone encourages you to think of things like possible weather problems, noise issues - even zoning laws. The book has plenty of diagrams that are clearly labeled. It is also easy to print out and put into a binder so you can have it with you out in the shop or in your driveway.
After the intro, Cardone goes into the materials you will want to get. He goes in depth on every tool and all the materials, describing what it looks like and what you will use it for. He describes everything, explaining details such as how 2x4s aren't actually 2 inches by 4 inches, and how that effects building. These sections are very helpful.
However, once the book gets into the actual building, I ran into a few problems. Sometimes Cardone explains things in extreme detail, and then other times he assumes that you know carpentry terms such as to "snap lines" or to "drill and countersink holes". If you have experience with construction, you will have no problem with this. However, if you don't, you may get frustrated. Get someone who has some building experience to help you, and you should be fine, even if this person helping you knows nothing about skateboarding (continues below).
The book continues to be somewhat inconsistent. Sometimes the diagrams are very clear, and help illustrate what Cardone's talking about perfectly. Then other times I'm really not sure what I'm looking at. For example at one point the book is explaining how to attach coping by drilling through the pipe and into the wood of the ramp. The picture is very clear, and helps you understand how to do it perfectly. But, the book goes on to explain another way to attach the coping where squares of metal are welded onto the coping, and then bolted to the frame of the ramp. Great idea, but the diagram is weak, and the instructions are extremely short on how to make sure that the square metal tabs that you weld on are all at the right angles. This happens from time to time, where one thing will be crystal clear, and then the next point is hard to understand or weakly developed.
Finally, the book is also chuck full of small mistakes. Right at the start the author talks about building your ramps around a "poll". Later he tells you shop at "Loew's". On page 32 the book tells you that you can skip ahead, if you want to go to the Framing section on page - and the sentence just ends without a page number.
These types of mistakes cheapen the book as a whole, which is unfortunate because the book isn't all bad. If you are building an indoor ramp, this book has some good insights and patiently describes the steps for you. Thrasher skateboarding magazine has a book out titled "How to Build Skateboard Ramps" that costs US $2 more than this book, and is far more professionally made. Interestingly, it's advertised on the Beginner's Guide webpage, and would be a better resource for most builders.
The Bottom Line
If you are building a large ramp, have extra money and want to have as much help as possible, then I recommend buying Cardone's Beginner's Guide, along with another professionally made book such as Thrasher's "How to Build Skateboard Ramps." Cardone has a very personable style which new builder's will find comfortable. And if you run into trouble, you can e-mail the author and get all the answers you need.
If, however, you are building any other type of ramp or if you are looking for a single solid guide book to building skateboard ramps, I don't recommend this book. For a little more money you can get something that offers more, presents itself better and that comes pre-printed and bound.