Picture of Duct Tape and PVC Kayak
This light-weight and easy to make kayak can be built in a few hours, weighs less than 20 pounds, and best of all, costs under $50.  While I wouldn't recommend taking it out in any rapids, it works great for calm water, so get out there and explore!

  • Five 10' long, 3/4" Outer Diameter PVC pipes
  • Hacksaw
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Two or three large trash bags
  • 2x4 wood plank between 3' and 4' in length (or similar) for the seat
  • 3 rolls of Scotch Brand Tough Duct Tape (make sure it says waterproof on the label!)
  • Lighter (optional: used for easier PVC bending)
  • 3 square feet cardboard (optional : used to make paddle)

Step 1: The First Cut

Picture of The First Cut
Cut two of the PVC pipes down to 8' with the hack saw, making sure to save the 2' lengths.

Cut two 4" lengths of PVC from the same 2' pipe. Make a cut 2" deep into each of these pipes lengthwise, and bend the wings back until they create an angle approximately 60º with each other. These braces are essential to give the kayak its tapered shape. Note : hold lighter under the area of the pipe you wish to bend in order to soften the PVC first.
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wood23 months ago

This is awesome!!!!! I'll build it as soon as I get the materials.

SpaceRat4 years ago
You've given me a great idea. A frame made from lightweight electrical conduit welded together (be sure to use a breathing mask, as electrical conduit gives off noxious gases when welded) would make a strong , lightweight kayak frame. Then cover it with heat-shrinkable aircraft fabric and paint it with a waterproof epoxy paint, and you have a really tough, ultra-light kayak (or you could build a canoe or pirogue).
How about Aluminum? A lot lighter and use thin hollow tubes that are strong. You can bolt it together, cuts easily even with just a hacksaw; it is very easy to work with. I made a cage for my rescue animals with it and turned out nice because it was light and mobile. Just used nuts and bolts to connect everything, no welding needed and no rust. Lasted 10 years till husband ruined the Plexiglas! Aluminum sheeting would work for the skin too wouldn't it? Maybe seal the seams with a good glue, epoxy or tar on the inside?
This is very cool though and I wish everyone lots of luck on your projects. =^-^=
Aluminum is a great idea! Being the tightwad I am , however, I like the cheapness of the electrical conduit (about 1/5 the cost of aluminum). And , I bet you could bolt together the conduit, too!

I should change my nick to "CheapRat" hehe

look around for an old trampoline nobody wants. Lots of free aluminum there.

LOL, it was kind of high but it could be such a difference in the weight though it may be worth it. :)
Good Luck on you project , can't wait to see it published in the featured section!!!
Check this guy out. He's a former aerospace engineer (was, he passed on). But he adapted a lot of aviation tech to canoes and kayaks.

someone mentioned using aluminum but then mentioned cost. What about scavenging for an old trampoline that someone is trying to get rid of? Those have nice aluminum parts.

a really neat idea
chokapi2 years ago
This website: http://www.formufit.com/ has cool PVC stuff, like odd fittings used in structural PVC construction.

Maybe try Cordura or Ballistic nylon, and then check out Rustoleum's new product -- http://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/neverwet/neverwet-kit/
chokapi2 years ago
Here's a great website for 'furniture grade' PVC. Impact resistant, not affected by UV, and the fittings have tapered edges to avoid snags, like on garbage bags or tarps:


Also, Rustoleum has a new waterproofing application. Stuff looks amazing. I imagine, if you wanted to make it, well, bulletproof, use Cordura or Ballistic nylon.
shaneoh32 years ago
I also made one with a friend, except I used tarp instead of trash bags, and added outriggers.
lukish2 years ago
This is pretty cool. I made a slightly modified version but it was way too unstable to use without capsizing until we added a tail thing. Is it just me or did anyone else encounter this problem? After we added the tail it is so fast and stable (for smallish people). Thanks for posting this!
this is cool! it looks the the mythbusters one as well
Nice redneck soluction
LucDaRocka13 years ago
i think i will use bamboo......
Annunakiman3 years ago
this is awesome!
dharris123 years ago
this.takes.more.than.3 rolls.

hey for all that want to add steel or wood dont. wy not instead just coat the thing with high grade nylon or polyester its about 3.00 for a fat roll. stitch the edges with a very strong synthetic twine heat seal the sown edges and paint on water sealant that hardens and for the seat just attach a small slat of marine grade plywood to both top and bottom structures. it will look amazing as well
radamchick4 years ago
cool did it leak and was it stable
Locate the scrap yard in your town. EMT is 30 cents a pound.
-chase-4 years ago
Nice job!

I've seen canoes and small water craft made from just about anything that you can make a water tite seal out off. Including duct tape before.

It's not a new idea but that doesn't a take away from the fact you tried it and were successfull at building a small water craft for a low cost.

Next - just as a suggestion you might want to move up to a folding plywood dingy type craft - they too can be built very cheaply - you sew them together, seal the edges and use a water proof cloth for the ends. You fold it up when not in use.

A single sheet of 1/4 inch ply will do. I have the plans for one if you care to try it. you're welcome to them or i'm sure you can find a instructable or the plans and make an instrucable for the build yourself.

again nice job on this one. looks to be a simple repair if you spring a leak!
Look forward to seeing future builds and what you come up with...

Graeme584 years ago
What was the cost of this project? I can see that subbing in wood for PVC would work, In an emergency, but change the weight characteristics. Also, I was wondering, just how long this project took from start to finish? (The first time).

For those who want to use this as a quick and dirty form for a fiberglass version, Fiberglass, tends not to be as flexible as Carbon Fiber, and the Polyethylene resin usually used for fiberglass, breaks down in sunlight so you might want to put a Gel Coat over it to protect it. FiberJute, is more ecofreindly, although the resin is still probably toxic. Essentially to use fiberjute, you use a jute mat instead of glass or carbon fiber mat. My father tried to make Burlap walls, and as far as I know the Burlap he used, was a form of cloth made from Jute, so if you can find Jute fiber burlap, it might make a good matting. (There is a car being built from it here in Canada).

Don't forget that you can create a more lively kayak if you make it a bit bigger and build in some ballast along the bottom. I once reballasted my fathers canoe, (and rebuilt the floatation cells) and turned it into a much safer vehicle, my father had found it "Tippy" when he tried to sit up with his trick leg forward.
hyroc346 (author)  Graeme584 years ago
The total cost of the materials was approx $35. The PVC pipes cost $2.50 each, and each roll of duct tape was about $8. I found a 2x4 in a scrap wood pile at the hardware store for free, and already owned the tools (and trash bags). From start to finish, I probably spent 8 to 10 hours building it the first time.

Great advice on the fiberglass, thanks!
We need a picture of you actually paddling this bad boy; the last photo looks like you're in 8" of water, with both feet on the bottom...
cdooley4 years ago
ok i have a question, i have a river on my property but it has several trees hidden underwater, and it can go up to 5 miles per hour. So if i hit a log at this speed would this kayak become destroyed??? Thankyou
I can't imagine this boat holding up very well, especially if you hit an obstruction in the water. Most likely, it would puncture the boat and you'd take on water. This is a good idea though for a survival situation if you had plenty of duct tape and possibly some flexible branches.
Okay. most costs in most situations.. trees in river + paddling/swimming = bad .. that is definitely true.
Fallen trees in moving water are very hazardous, avoid them at all costs in all situations. Odds are your kayak would become "broached," on the logs and have the upstream pressure of the river tear it to shreds. Hopefully a paddler in that situation got clear of entanglement.
I swear and warrant that this is true. I used duc tape to reverse a growing wart on my arm. google it . I applied a small patch for 7 days to the growing wart only to see it reduce and go completely away.
I have heard of that also, but that it took a lot longer.
alanator4 years ago
If you could build a cockpit rim out of a little pvc you could fit a sprayskirt on it, and then you could possibly even roll in that boat.
tinker2344 years ago
hey for rapids could i add s layer of steel
Plywood would be better, it is lighter and strong.
well i think steel would be the best joice thanks
marine grade plywood I assume?
RPeabody4 years ago
Nice project. Consider the effect on the environment before coating the kayak with any chemicals.
tn.4 years ago
pls bear with me - i got home from work, sat down, deleted crap, and opened up my instructable email (as i usually do, it being the most interesting thing in my inbox).

just a question re waterproofing (having first-hand experience how not-so-much duct tape), but would it work to smear fibreglass over the outside? you can buy it at the hardware store.

the only thing i'm thinking is that fibreglass works wierd with other substances so i dunno if it would reinforce/seal the duct tape or eat it for lunch.
weight on is weight in the water. consider how much more weight fiberglass would add. if you are not semi skilled in using fiberglass you could wind up with a total mess. and you cost just went up too.
yeah, the cost is a factor - the weight thing, well... i already have to modify the canoe anyway ;)
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