How to Build a Raft

Heidi Hunt
July/August 2007
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A friend, a sunny day and a homemade raft make a perfect summer experience.

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Remember the 'lazy, hazy days of summer?' You can recapture that feeling while floating downstream or even across the pond on a homemade raft.

A 'raft' can be anything that floats and will hold a person or two ? an inner tube or air mattress will do. But should you desire to build an actual wooden raft, or assist a youngster in doing so, there are many resources available to help you design and build the perfect adventure craft.

Many DIY rafts are constructed of found materials, such as dimension lumber or dried logs. Part of the adventure is acquiring free materials and designing the raft to your own specifications. Held together by rope or nails and buoyed be a bit of Styrofoam, your craft can be ready for launching with just a few hours of work.

Ishmael Wallace and his dad built a raft using 1-inch-think planks cut 3 feet long. They attached the planks with 3?-inch spikes to two 3-inch-diameter logs, each 6 feet long. By using more logs and planks, you could make a larger raft. But remember that once built, the raft has to be moved to the water, so weight is a consideration.

Remember Gilligan (Bob Denver) on 'Gilligan's Island?' He was always coming up with a plan for getting the stranded crew off the island. His design for a raft could hold, well, the whole crew.

And for a light-weight raft that will keep you high and dry, check out this design.

If you would like to try your hand at building a homemade canoe, rowboat or paddleboat, visit the Mother Earth News Boat Page. Please post a comment below about your experiences with handmade boats or rafts.

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