Useful Tips

How to build a raft


The raft is an exclusively ordinary construction of water transport, and it is much easier to make it than a canoe or a boat. There are various methods for the construction of rafts, you can make the usual design of boards or logs, using barrels, or PVC pipes that will keep it afloat. In addition, you can build a raft entirely from empty bottles of soft drinks - this is true, tested in practice! A wide adhesive tape is taken with which all bottles are fastened together.

What can a raft be made of?

One of the most popular rafts is wood. To make such a craft, you need to choose high-quality logs and planks from strong wood. Many craftsmen are thinking about building a wood raft, since this type of water transport is perfect for fishing and for long hiking trips.

But, besides this, there are other types of rafts. This can be polystyrene foam, cameras from cars, plastic and iron barrels, as well as cans or plastic bottles, and you will learn how to make a raft from plastic bottles below. For the manufacture of rafts, special pontoons are also sold, but they are quite expensive. The most affordable and easiest option is a water bottle made of plastic bottles.

How to make a raft

Not sure how to make a raft out of bottles? You can make a boat with your own hands, for this you will need:

  1. 20-25 plastic bottles of 2 liters.
  2. Adhesive tape is waterproof.

The number of bottles can be changed at your own discretion, depending on the size of the raft and the number of people who will be on it.

Raft construction process

How to make a raft with your own hands from bottles and where to start?

  • Refrigerate the opened empty bottles in the refrigerator, then tighten the lids tightly to stiffen the containers.
  • Glue prepared containers into a single cloth. Use moisture-resistant adhesive tape to alternate 4 bottles in 2 rows. The two-layer raft is much more stable and stronger. Care should be taken to ensure that bottle caps are located on one side. For a full-fledged raft, approximately 5-6 double-row blocks will be needed.
  • Glue rows of finished blocks. For the strength of the system, the bottles should be stacked as follows: 2 pieces horizontally and 3 pieces vertically. The result is a standard rectangular “pillow”.
  • Combine the bottles. The adjacent rows must be laid one after another according to the cork-bottom scheme. On the side of the raft should be further strengthened with tape. This building is designed for 1 passenger!

How to make a raft of bottles with your own hands for two or three people? Everything is very simple - the number of plastic containers increases two and three times. If you do not have enough bottles of 2 liters, then you can take other volumes (5, 1.5 and even 1 liter). It is recommended to lay a thin plywood sheet or plastic on top of the glued bottles so that the raft does not squeeze under the influence of the mass of a person.

For aesthetic purposes, it is recommended to wrap every 2-3 blocks with a waterproof cloth.

Do not be afraid to experiment and fantasize, but do not forget about the safety rules!

Log raft

Not sure how to make a raft with your own hands out of wood? In order to make a structure from logs, you need dry pine or spruce wood, that is, when you tap on it with an ax, the sound should be ringing. But keep in mind that for the construction of a swimming facility dry material with old wood is not at all suitable. Such a tree will damp very quickly, and the raft itself will sink. To determine the specific gravity, you need to saw off a small piece of about 10–11 cm from the end of the log with a tool. Then throw it flat into the water. If the stump goes 5-6 cm down, then this wood is well suited for the construction of a raft. So how to make a raft from boards?

  • Logs 8–9 cm wide and 1.5 m long - 2 pieces.
  • Wooden planks with a thickness of approximately 2.5 cm, a width of 13 cm and a length of 91 cm - 11 pieces.
  • Thin boards 5 mm thick, 13 cm wide and 91 cm long - 5 pieces.

Manufacturing process

Not sure how to make a raft? The assembly process consists of the following steps:

  • Lay two logs parallel to each other at a distance of 85 cm.
  • Place eleven planks across the logs to form a deck. The boards need to be laid so that they slightly extend beyond the line of logs, which, in turn, should peek slightly from all sides from under the deck.
  • Hammer it all with nails.
  • Turn the raft upside down.
  • Insert the foam between the logs. Try to pick a piece the same size as the raft. If you can’t find the right size, then you can use individual pieces, most importantly, carefully arrange them.
  • Fold 5 thin boards across the logs to fix the foam.
  • Pound them with nails.
  • Turn the raft over and drop it into the water. This design is designed for one adult passenger of average build.

Important! When using a raft on a lake, it is imperative to wear a life jacket. Do not take this structure to the river, because it is unstable and can be dangerous in moving water. For such movements, only an inflatable raft is suitable, which is used in sports such as rafting, but it is quite expensive. A log construction made by yourself is perfect for a lake, you can fish or sunbathe on it.

Structural features

How to make a raft of wood, you already know, it's time to figure out how to choose the right material.

  • The largest diameter of the log is 25-30 cm.
  • The minimum is 10 cm.
  • So that the future raft of logs has good durability, thin logs are placed in the middle, and thicker - on the side. If the logs are slightly curved, then these parts are laid in the lower part.
  • Permissible gaps between logs are 2–3 centimeters. In the opposite case, the water structure will be unreliable and inert, in addition, to build a raft by all the rules simply will not work.
  • Logs are folded on a slipway, and then rolled to the sides, and their upper parts are marked.

Raft slots

At a small distance of 80 cm from the end, grooves are formed on the main log (sawn or cut). An indispensable condition is the location of the lower grooves at the same level. In depth, they should approach the center of the log - this is very important. If this condition is not met, driving a wedge risks damaging the sawn wood. As a sample, a special end face is used, which is woven out of a wet birch. It fits onto the intended log in the central part.

Not sure how to make a raft out of wood? Further, in a groove prepared in advance on it, it is freely located on top, and the lower part fills the top of the groove. A wedge is driven between the groove wall and the tilt side. It must be woody and dry, the ronzhins are placed on one plane.

Having worked out the technique on the sample, you can go to the rest of the logs and make the same grooves. They are sequentially fixed with wedges to the main log. Before laying the last logs in them, another type of grooves is formed, suitable for the vag. In addition, 3 special racks are cut about 11 cm wide and about 70 cm high.

After that, the main rope is pulled on them, instead of which you can use wire twists or rope ties.

Design selection

Not sure how to make a raft? If you intend to use the raft on calm lakes, it is better to use the "P" scheme. In the logs 2 racks cut in advance, on which the deck is subsequently put on. She needs to wedge and cut a row for rowing. To avoid breakaway racks, rowing should be placed at a distance of 50 cm from the stern and bow.

On transient and difficult rivers, it is necessary to use structures with an iron frame, for the construction of which modules and couplings are used. Modules can be taken in different lengths, but the coupling should be shaped. In order to build such a raft, it will take a lot of effort. It will be necessary to drill a lot, and the help of a turner will also be required.

But despite all of the above, the resulting raft will be fairly easy to assemble and disassemble. For packaging design, you will need two kayak covers and a separate case for storing oars.

It is attractive that the resulting frame can, if desired, be divided into two small rafts or even assemble a catamaran.

Raft from car cameras

Have you decided to spend summer days on the banks of a river or lake and you have a problem with the lack of swimming transport? In this case, you can use the system of a shallow-sitting tourist raft, which can withstand up to 6 people with backpacks, in addition, the design has decent stability, including on a fast river. Next, you will learn how to make a raft, this process is as simple as possible.

  • Cameras from a car with a diameter of up to one and a half meters - 6-10 pieces.
  • Wood poles with a diameter of at least 6 cm and a length of 5 m - 3 pieces, 1.7 m long - 4 pieces.
  • Pieces of duralumin pipes.
  • Iron or duralumin strips about 10 mm wide.


Not sure how to make a raft with your own hands? Follow these steps:

  • Lay wooden poles 5 meters long along those shorter across across them at the same distance from each other.
  • Next begins the manufacture of the main deck and the "captain" bridge. They represent 3 shields from assembled poles. First of all, the main deck is made. On two battered poles with a length of 1.7 m, poles or sections of two-meter boards with a width of 20 mm (this is even better) are laid out and hammered with nails. "Commander" bridges are constructed similarly.
  • Supports for the canopy are willow twigs. The manufacture of the raft should only proceed after their installation. First of all, car chambers are tied to the base with ropes, then the main deck and the "captain" bridges are installed. The sides are made of 4 trimmed poles, and the canopy is made of a piece of cellophane.
  • Supports for rowing (control oars) are located diagonally on the bridges: on the front side - on the right, and on the back - on the left side. Supports are bent from three duralumin pipes and strengthened by two steel or duralumin strips. Rows themselves are made of long poles (250 cm), and the blades are made of duralumin or plywood sheets (sizes are selected individually).
  • The frame is formed using a cable with a diameter of 6 mm and modules with a length of 200 cm, their connecting parts are hinges. At this point, a bend of 20 degrees is formed. The frame weighs approximately 80 kg. Cable breaks are possible on solid shafts.


Now you know how to make a raft, so if you are thinking about your upcoming vacation on a lake or river, think over leisure activities on the shore and leisurely boat trips, you need to build a small-sitting water transport for 5-6 people. The above scheme also provides for their backpacks. For fishing on a calm lake alone, a raft made of plastic bottles is quite suitable.

How to make a raft with your own hands. Tree

We offer to save both time and effort, and money. Having learned in practice how to make a raft with your own hands, you will understand that you spent no more than 5 hours preparing for the rafting, and when you reached the goal of your tour, you just took things and drove home.

The most ancient method of constructing such a transport is associated with wood. How to make a raft of wood with your own hands? You need to connect thick logs of dense twine with each other, and then connect them by nailing a crate from the boards that you “purchased” for free (from containers, at a construction site, in a country house, during the re-laying of floors ...).

Unfortunately, for those living in the steppe or semi-desert, tree trunks will become a very expensive component. You can always pick up deadwood. And yet, it will not work as a “holding” (lower) layer of a miracle ship. A bunch of mossy trunks of dry trees (or branches) quickly "tear" the course or blow to the shore. In addition, they can withstand no more than one passenger.

How to make a raft with your own hands. Materials at hand

Continuing to think about how to make a raft with our own hands in another way, inventive representatives of mankind drew attention to a bunch of objects that could hold large volumes of air. The main “experts” in such matters are car cameras. Only two such round wheels (taken out of the wheels of a medium-sized truck) can freely keep afloat 800 kilograms!

Making a raft of cameras is much easier than you think. Someone they know will always be in the garage ... All that remains is to lay them out so that the crate from the boards is evenly supported by them from below (cameras should be located at all angles).

Having made a firm decision to make a raft of chambers, you need to think about how to attach the “top” assembled from improvised materials to the rubber “bottom”. The crate with the flooring (it is really riveted out of any debris) must be firmly mounted to the "lifebuoys" with a strong rope, wide construction tape, nylon straps (all at once).

Have you got a crowd of adventurer fellow travelers and a ton of things? It is necessary to find a way not to sink all THIS. In this case, making a raft from barrels is the most correct alternative. Tin barrels of fuels and lubricants or other materials are lying in large quantities in your friends' garages, dumps, in warehouses of shops and wholesale stores. The main thing is to thoroughly rinse such containers, neutralizing environmentally harmful substances. Then screw the covers. Such a "water cushion" is placed in a wooden frame - in the spacer. The flooring is mounted with such frames in different ways.

You can take on such a board hundreds of kilograms. Using six 25-liter barrels, it is possible to transport on a raft from 8 adult tourists with tents set up. There should be more barrels at the end where your “tent city” stands with all things.

There are times when none of the above is at hand. Well, it doesn’t matter. In each house (in the barn, in the country, in a separate container in the "trash"), a modern city dweller will find dozens of bottles of PET.

A plastic raft is the cheapest. It makes sense to craft rows of bottles by inserting them into each other.

But this is a long time - the top of each vessel will have to be cut ... Yes, and the time of fastening such "pipes" to the "deck" is long.

It is easier to make a plastic raft by filling evenly with closed bottles 25 or 50 kg sugar bags. And these bags themselves must be tied evenly in different corners of the wooden crate, firmly pulling together with everything possible.

How to make a raft with your own hands. Underwater sail

Have you already made the “ark” of the size you need, stocked up with oars, and are you planning to launch it into the water? Do not hurry. We have not yet revealed all the secrets to you. Remember - there are rivers with such a strong current that it is criminal not to use this element! Having understood how to make a raft with your own hands, you should add luck, having studied the benefits of such an invention as an underwater sail. When he is ready, you just have to scoop up to the middle of the river and rush off - your happy team will catch up with all the "motorboats".

An underwater sail is just a canvas tapering downward no more than a meter high. It should be made of dense tarpaulin or durable artificial fiber (a fabric made of natural material will tear on the first snag).It is also desirable to sheathe it around the edges - because he has so much to experience.

The underwater sail should be tied to a tightly screwed rear guard. He should sag in the water. Attach a pocket at the very bottom (sew the folds formed during the narrowing process). It is needed for cobblestone. The load will straighten your underwater "gadget", which significantly increases speed. By the way, if you change the cobblestone to a heavy brick (or 2 bricks - depending on the depth, wind and speed of the river flow), you will also get an anchor.

We hope that you are definitely inspired by one of the options presented here and are already phoning your friends. Having decided to make a raft from barrels, take on board a huge company, and if you decide to remember your ancestors and show the children how to make a raft from a tree with your own hands - either assemble a team less or look for thicker logs. Do not forget about the date for the extreme tour - the 5th month is most suitable (read "Rest in Russia for the May holidays" and "May rafting").

How did the little raft

Just decided on the design and materials, when the first beta version was suddenly released. About six barrels, a single-deck floating pier. The difference between such a marina and a raft is that the raft is made for rafting along rivers, and the marina should stand still. By the way, this did not stop us from swimming a little on it.

Main characteristics of the marina:

  • working title: "Youth",
  • dead weight of the structure: 480 kg,
  • maximum load capacity: 1,543 kg,
  • deck area: 8 m².

A prototype of the future "big" raft was made on the occasion: one of the participants wished to sponsor the construction of a pontoon berth-raft on the river near his suburban area.

And also.
It's easy to become a creator. Start small - do-it-yourself birdhouse for birds.

They built it sprightly, not without the help of a certified architect and her husband, a broad-based specialist. We started at noon, and by the evening of the same day they had already boarded up the last deck flooring board. And they already enjoyed the fact that the calculations turned out to be correct: the pontoon behaved as planned. And the next day we took the oars from the boat, and tried to sail the river on a raft. There is almost no current in this place, we just crossed the river on a raft and returned back, jumping a little from the water on the way from it - I liked everything! We built the raft with our own hands - you can have fun, because everything turned out as it was intended!

This circumstance completely untied our hands, and we continued to create. But so far only mentally.

How to make a big raft

For a large raft, 22 barrels were already required. They were going to fasten barrels to the raft in two rows, 11 pieces each. To get something like a catamaran with two skis, which is good both in handling and in weight distribution. By the way, experience has shown that such a structure is easy to aground, and for the middle course of the Don it is important.

Each barrel was located in its compartment, limited by two bars and two crossbars. The mass of the raft was pressing on top of the barrels, water was supporting from below. In addition, the barrels were drawn by slings to the rails of the frame.

The basis for the construction of a raft from barrels is a frame of bars and boards on which a lower deck is laid. The upper deck (a la Sun Deck) also rests on the frame with its racks.

The design is largely supported by its own weight. The individual elements are interconnected through grooves.

Or "grooves", as we now affectionately call them. The fact is that during the construction of the raft, when it was cut, a whole hundred grooves were cut out, hollowed out, and they all did not end, the supply of abusive words to the grooves ran out. And from that moment we began to love them dearly.

In the drawings, the raft looks like this:

There was a kitchen on our raft. On galley culinary masterpieces were created. Well, or just preparing food.

One barrel removed - so the details of the raft on the drawing look more clearly.

Also in the manufacture of the raft, nails are widely used, in the boarding of which we also practiced orderly. Nails are generally indispensable in many endeavors. They played the role of hooks in the raft’s kitchen on a journey; they were nailed to the tent deck with the same nails.

Well, that managed to build a raft without the use of screws or screws. With your own hands, screw hundreds of screws for a very long time, and taking an electric screwdriver or drill with you is superfluous with electricity. In addition, nails are simply cheaper.

How to control a raft during rafting

For a long time we could not decide how the raft would be set in motion, and how it would be controlled. The options, whenever a mover was constantly making noise nearby, did not suit. The classic version with the crests somehow did not go (although we used the other traditional version of the raft control - poles -). As a result, we agreed that we will simply go with the raftas it swims. And if necessary - pull the raft with a motor boat. At the same time, we were not sure that a light boat could tow a multi-ton raft, which is comparable in size to a two- or three-room apartment.

It is a pity, but many beautiful and almost unreal options for the propulsion were left overboard. One such option is the giant fish tail. In miniature, it looks like this:

But what are we all about theory! Finally the day came when we left for the place raft construction, that is, slipway. Practice has begun. Building materials arrived, their heaps grew and grew. We started to “process” them, and the heaps began to decrease, albeit slowly.

There was a lot of work. The first days we lived on the beach. They marked out, sawed timber and boards, made grooves, sealed corks at barrels. The simultaneous descent of the raft into the water, as with a pontoon, was not supposed. It was a massive construction, several tons - do not raise the raft with your own hands. Parts of the future raft on the hands were carried into the water, where the installation of a huge structure continued. It worked even easier in water: remember how hot this summer was?

On the third day of making the raft, the lower deck flooring finally began to appear. And our active life began to gradually move from the coast to the raft. I already wanted to spend the night on it, drink tea, fish and just sit, dangling my feet in the water.

A case was deposited in my head. We built the raft not in a remote place, but not far from the village. Of course, the locals were very interested in what kind of raft we are doing here. We even had regular viewers who almost every day monitored the progress of work and made constructive suggestions to the raft project. And also local boys constantly revolved around who did not ask questions, but simply rejoiced and, probably, envied us in something. Once, when we already had a part of the deck laid down, one of the guys suddenly asked: "Is it possible to jump from your raft?"

Now, probably, at that very moment it became clear to me that the idea of ​​a raft was not in vain. Already not one, but several boys jumped into the water from the raft, actively exploiting our creation. What a thrill it was — just to see their burning eyes!

After a couple of days of work on the water, a second deck and a staircase leading to it grew.

It became clear that raft trip - not far away. The next day, they finished laying the lower deck, built part of the partitions and prepared to sail off the next day. Tents began to crawl from the shore to the raft in the evening.

The next morning, laying the second deck, we began to load. All things, tents, as well as tools and remaining building materials, moved to the raft. For a long time, accumulated construction waste was collected, intending to use it for firewood for a samovar and barbecue. The shore was empty, we pushed off, and Don slowly carried us south.

Rafting Days

Now, our main occupation has become, as someone has definitely noticed, "drinking Don beauty." Honorary sail on a raft on the river. Enjoy the calmness of the river, stare at the slowly changing Don landscapes, smile in response to the beeps of larger boats and ships passing by. Rafting down the Don is not uncommon; we also saw homemade rafts floating quietly along the river. Sometimes it’s very important not to rush anywhere. Swimming, fishing, sunbathing, talking about the most important and about nothing.

"What else would be good on a raft with your own hands?" Probably, with this thought, one of the participants made a wooden wakeboard.

But the work did not end there. Just further equipping the raft was already on the go. It's like a repair in an apartment - it's impossible to finish. Now the pace has become completely different. We were not in a hurry anywhere, but worked for our pleasure, in our free time. So when rafting on the raft, several more partitions appeared to visually divide the space, and as protection from the wind. A kitchen (that is, a galley) was equipped, an almost-non-staggering table for the wardroom was brought down. Hanged hammock, protected from the sun and "with a view." A semi-automatic staircase was created to climb a raft out of the water after swimming. On the second deck, leer were pulled and a flag was hoisted.

Enough to equip, it's time to look at the results of work!

This could be the end of the story about construction (in the photo of the raft, we will still admire it in other chapters). But someone will be interested in the dry numbers of the project. So, the characteristics of the raft with the working name "Four half tons".

    Total estimated weight: 4,500 kg, including
    • dead weight: 3 711 kg,
    • estimated payload: 789 kg.

    Depth (distance from the top of the deck to the surface of the water) at the estimated payload: 0.39 m.

    Landing at calculated payload: 0.46 m.

    Maximum raft capacity (maximum payload): 5 382 kg. Wherein gross weight would be awesome: more than 9 tons!

    Raft dimensions
    • length: 10.9 m,
    • width: 6.0 m,
    • height (excluding flag): 3.2 m.
    Raft deck area
    • lower deck: 63.2 m²,
    • upper deck: 9.5 m².

And finally. To make a large raft it was required to do not so much:

  • send to each other 331 letters,
  • process 427 boards and beams total volume 5.02 m³,
  • fix the structure with 339 grooves and 1,696 nailsbig and small.

Tell your readers

Written October 25, 2010,
updated July 20, 2011.