How to Make a Raft With Sticks

How to Make a Raft With Sticks
Wood is inherently buoyant. You won't need an axe or chainsaw to make this raft. Using small, flexible, finger-thickness through wrist-thickness deadfall wood and some strong rope, you can make a raft like the ones farmers and frontiersmen floated down the Mississippi River, before the flatboat became the standard transport method.

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Hatchet, machete or folding saw 1/4-inch diameter nylon rope Deadfall wood
  • Hatchet, machete or folding saw
  • 1/4-inch diameter nylon rope
  • Deadfall wood
Step 1
Gather deadfall branches as thick and long as possible. Use a machete, hatchet or folding saw to cut them to 6- and 8-foot lengths.
Step 2
Bring your branches and other needed supplies to the body of water where you wish to launch your raft. Lay your branches side to side with the thick and thin ends alternating, which will help keep you keep your raft corners closer to square.
Step 3
Create "logs" by binding the branches together in bundles with nylon rope using tight half-hitch knots as in the diagram. Half-hitches are the knots you make with your shoelaces when you cross them and then take one lace under the other before you make your loops.
Step 4
Lay your stick-bundle logs in the order shown in the diagram, with your cross members on the bottom.
Step 5
Lash your stick-bundle logs to your cross members using overhand knots as in the diagram in Step Four.
Step 6
Cut the longest piece of thick deadfall you can find to use as your oar or guide pole.
Step 7
Tie a long rope to each front corner of your raft to use as towing and mooring lines. If you have built your raft with two long and two short sides, with short crossmembers laid over the full-length keel bundles, the short sides will be the front and back and will be interchangeable.
Step 8
Moor your raft by tying it to a tree along the shoreline, or by using a 20- to 30-pound improvised anchor, such as a large coffee can filled with concrete, with a piece of bent rebar for a handle.

Tips & Warnings

 
According to James Hornell, "In simple rafts, the material used has sufficient inherent buoyancy to enable it to float and to carry weight according to its capacity without resort to accessory devices." Egyptians built boats from bundles of reeds. "I've always been fascinated by the Egyptian reed boat builders," artisan and industrial blacksmith Gypsy Wilburn says. "This stick raft design was my attempt to put their principles into a modern-day, usable watercraft."
 
According to James Hornell, "In simple rafts, the material used has sufficient inherent buoyancy to enable it to float and to carry weight according to its capacity without resort to accessory devices."
 
Egyptians built boats from bundles of reeds. "I've always been fascinated by the Egyptian reed boat builders," artisan and industrial blacksmith Gypsy Wilburn says. "This stick raft design was my attempt to put their principles into a modern-day, usable watercraft."

Article Written By Jane Smith

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.