How to Build a Wooden Raft

How to Build a Wooden Raft
You don't have to be Huck Finn to enjoy the experience of hitting the open water in a craft made of simple wood materials. And, thanks to lumber yards and modern tools, you can have a sturdy wood raft in no time.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • 3 8-foot long 6-inch diameter round pine fence posts 14 6-foot long 1-by-6 pine board decking Hammer 3.5-inch exterior nails Drill (optional) Varnish or polyurethane Bristle brush
  • 3 8-foot long 6-inch diameter round pine fence posts
  • 14 6-foot long 1-by-6 pine board decking
  • Hammer
  • 3.5-inch exterior nails
  • Drill (optional)
  • Varnish or polyurethane
  • Bristle brush
Step 1
Start by laying out the three 6-inch diameter poles; use pine for better flotation. If you are going to make a raft that is 6 feet across, you'll have two posts on the outside, about 5.5 feet apart and a third post running equidistant from the two outer posts. All three posts should run parallel to each other.
Step 2
Add on the decking but don't nail it down yet. The key to the decking is to lay it out from end to end first. Leave about 6 inches on either end so that your posts protrude slightly out from under the deck.
Step 3
Nail down the decking. You can predrill the holes if you'd like. Pine has excellent flotation ability, but it can crack when the nails are driven in.
Step 4
Check the raft for stability. With the planking nailed down the structure should be fairly stiff, but it shouldn't be that heavy since pine is a light weight wood.
Step 5
Varnish the logs and decking with a bristle brush and allow it to dry. You can get varnish at the local hardware store, or if you'd rather, you can use polyurethane. Either will work and both will provide your raft with a waterproof coating that will allow it to float and not absorb moisture. You should allow 24 hours for the craft to dry.
Step 6
Get your oars and launch your raft. You're now ready to hit the open waves. A couple of people with paddles or just letting the current take you along if on a river will provide hours of adventure.

Tips & Warnings

 
Allow your raft to sit in the water by itself for 5 minutes before taking it out. This will give you time to assess its seaworthiness.
 
Always wear a life jacket.

Article Written By Patrick Cameron

Patrick Cameron is a freelance writer with 10 years of diverse experience in consumer goods branding, promotions and retail communications. He works out of his home in Denver, Colo. He received his Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.

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