How to Build a Raft

Rafts were the first structure that allowed people to float on water. Rafts are traditionally built from the ground up, using logs and materials that can be easily found in nature and do not have to be bought. Since the structure is so simple, cheap and fun to build, wooden rafts are rarely commercially bought. For an activity with fun rewards, get started with building your own raft.

Materials

  • Logs
  • Strong cord
  • Small pieces of wood
  • Screws
  • Galvanised nails
  • Plywood

Tools

  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Screw drive
  • Knife

Instructions

  1. Gather logs that are similar in length, thickness and origin. Getting similar logs will ensure a better outcome for your raft.
  2. Ideal base logs are at least 12 feet long with a 12 inches diameter.
  3. Collect 2-3 logs that are at least 7-8 feet long with a diameter of at least 4-6 inches to create the support in the locking system of the raft.
  4. Arrange all the tools and materials near the shore before starting construction. Design an outline to represent the dimensions of your raft and use it for reference as you construct the physical structure.
  5. Cut out 2”x4-6” dove tail notches on each end of the base logs, ensuring the notches at the bottom are wider than those at the top and will suit the dimensions of the support log.
  6. Carefully measure and cut the support logs with three sides to match the notches.
  7. Bring the logs together parallel to each other. Arrange the notches in a straight line and lock them with support logs.
  8. Tie down the raft supports with strong cord, adding a niche to the raft’s rear end to act as a controlling wheel.
  9. Once the parts of the raft have been securely assembled, check for weak areas and add reinforcement with galvanised nails and strong rope; ensure rope ties have no loose ends.
  10. With a securely assembled raft, consider the size, weight and practicality of decking material. Attach the decking material chosen to the top of the raft with nails and screws.
  11. Collect two long, sturdy poles to act as steers. They should be long and strong but should not be too heavy to lift. These will steer your raft left and right once you start sailing on the water.

Tips and warnings

  • It is very important to build the raft near the shore so you can roll it into the water once it’s completely assembled. Carrying a heavy raft from your home to the shore will be a difficult and very impractical task.
  • When rafting, always wear a life jacket for safety purposes.
  • Test the raft before using it to travel long distances; you will spot leaks and other weaknesses in time to fix them and go out sailing again.
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