How to Build a PVC Raft

How to Build a PVC Raft
Building a raft from PVC pipe is a fairly straightforward job, as the pipes can be connected with water-tight fittings and caps. PVC rafts can be constructed by anyone with an intrepid do-it-yourself spirit, some basic planning, and a bit of patience, although care needs to be taken to ensure the raft is buoyant enough to support whatever weight you intend to put on it. Rafts of this kind are suitable for use on placid ponds and small lakes, but should not be used rivers, the sea, or rough water.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • 3-inch PVC pipes Hacksaw or PVC saw PVC glue 3-inch PVC pipe end caps Caulking gun with caulk 2-by-4 inch boards Saw Drill Screwdriver Brass screws with rubber washers Silicon gel
  • 3-inch PVC pipes
  • Hacksaw or PVC saw
  • PVC glue
  • 3-inch PVC pipe end caps
  • Caulking gun with caulk
  • 2-by-4 inch boards
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Brass screws with rubber washers
  • Silicon gel
Step 1
Take a tape measure and a hacksaw (or a PVC saw if you have one), and cut four lengths of 3-inch diameter PVC pipe to match the length of your proposed raft. For this how-to guide, let's focus on a raft that is 12 feet long by 5 feet wide, so four of the pipes will have to be 12 feet long.
Step 2
Clean the ends of the pipe. Coat the ends of the pipes with PVC glue, and push an end cap onto each end. Repeat for all four pipes and let the glue set for half an hour before proceeding.
Step 3
Caulk the outside rims of the end caps, to give them an extra layer of waterproofing.
Step 4
Lay the PVC pipes out in pairs, so that they form the long borders of a 12-by-5 foot rectangle.
Step 5
Cut two 5-foot sections of 2-by-4 inch boards. Set those on top of the PVC pipes, laying them at the top and bottom of the pairs of pipe and 1 foot from either ends.
Step 6
Drill four small pilot holes through each board, matched so that you can attach each board to all four pipes. Then dip each brass screw in silicon gel, slide on a waterproof washer, and drive it into one of the holes. Insert all of the screws in that fashion. Allow the silicon gel to dry for four hours before proceeding.

You now have the frame for your raft.
Step 7
Put a floor on your raft, such as a section of plywood attached to the 2-by-4 boards. For this raft, 12 feet by 5 feet is the maximum size, but the flooring can be reduced down to 10 feet in length (remember that your 2-by-4 planks are 10 feet apart) and any comfortable width. Once again, use brass screws dipped in silicon gel to avoid rust and leaks.

Tips & Warnings

 
For extra buoyancy, you can glue or bolt blocks of Styrofoam onto the bottom of the plywood floor, but the raft should float well enough to support two people as is.
 
Using screws is the quick way to build a PVC raft, but their seals will eventually wear out and start leaking. The alternative is to build the raft by lashing the parts together, but that should only be attempted by those with advanced rope and knot skills. Otherwise, your raft could suddenly fall apart while on the water.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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