Below is a set of guidelines for making a raft on the cheap. Our version cost about $80 but it was shared between three people which, for the experience, was quite good! (Keep in mind, this price was because most things were scrounged fo' free)
Still not sold?
Well to help you with determining if this instructable would be fun for you to complete I have assembled a checklist of suggested prerequisites that you can use to evaluate your match:
- Have you ever wanted to escape to the great outdoors like Huck Finn?
- Is it summer?
- Do you love adventures?
- Are you poor?
- Is there an unexplored river in your area?
- Have you taken a bet to make a raft and use it for a day from your friends?
Hopefully after this self assessment, you have realized that rafting on the cheap is for you!
- Please look into local boating laws in your area (just call or email a local marina or police dept. and they should be able to set you straight) to figure out if it is legal to be where you will be on a homemade raft. In most places personal watercraft are tolerated very well and you will not need any permit or experience to get started adventuring!
- Wear a lifejacket at all times (as you will be able to see, we wore ours even while the raft was being assembled). This is a no brainer; what you will be making is a cheap, semi-disposable raft and going down a river on it.............tons of stuff can go wrong.
- Let a landlubber know about your adventure (and I don't just mean bragging, let them know the details so that an alarm will be raised quickly if something bad happens. You should brag a little though)
Cool, now let's get down to business...
Step 1: Materials
The materials for the raft are quite simple and you will probably be able to find most of them lying about (that's what we did)!
1) Plywood - We decided to make our raft 6' by 8' which required us to buy 1.5 full sheets of plywood (we got one sheet cut in half lengthwise at the store for free leaving us with a 2' x 8' piece and a 4' x 8' piece of plywood for assembly. The plywood was 3/4 inch thick and was pretty much the cheapest type we could find.
2) Two-by-fours - We got three of these (8' long), again the cheapest ones possible... pine I think.
3) Wood screws - We used a bunch of these. As long as they are long enough to attach plywood to 2x4 they will work.
4) Sealant - This is the waterproofing stuff that comes out of a spray can, we got it so that we would not have to buy pressure treated lumber which is expensive and unecessary for this project. Rust Oleum might work as well but I have not tried it out yet.
5) Rope - I have no idea just how much of this stuff we used but it was a lot. Have at least 80' of it. We just got some cheap cord from Wal-Mart and used old climbing rope for the hand holds/perimeter roping.
6) Bungee Cord - This stuff may be considered optional to the plans but it served us well. We had about 5' of raw cordage just lying around that we used. If you don't have the stuff just lying around, pick up one of those "bucket o' bungees" thing from your local hardware store and you should be set!
7) Free Inflatables - Every family should have a bunch of these leftover from their child-rearing days so just talk to neighbors and friends and scrounge what you can. Minor leaks are okay because they can be fixed!
8) Bought Inflatables - Once you are convinced that there aren't any more free inflatable anythings in a three block radius of your house, you will have to cave and buy some. Our group was able to find some nice $1.50 inflatable lounge beds at walmart and got a bunch!
9) Spray Paint - Come on, admit it, half of the reason you are building this thing is so that you can brag to your friends and wave to people on the river banks and such so why not make your raft awesome looking? If you are not artistically inclined in the least bit, get one of your arty friends over and let him/her go to town on the raft!
10) Duct Tape - Apart from being awesome, this stuff will also patch cheap vinyl floaties like none other. and it is cheaper than a patch kit. Bring a roll.
11) Long aluminum pipe - This will be for your venetian pole. We had a 12' one and it worked fine! Try and get one with a diameter of about 1.25 inches as this will fit most comfortably in your hands. The piping will almost certainly be the most expensive part of your project if you buy it new so try and find it used (this can be tough but it is manageable, we got ours from a machine shop for free with the promise that we would bring it back after the trip).
12) Various implements of mobility - These again can and should be scrounged. We used two cheap, three foot long, plastic paddles but they broke within 4 hours of use so I would suggest using hardier things.
13) Trash Bags - These are the cheapest dry-bags available. To use, just put stuff in them, push out all of the excess air, tie them off and shove them into your backpack. They might let in a little bit of water if your raft gets fully submerged for some reason but are a good way to keep spare clothes and towels with you.
14) Friends - These are important, friends provide monetary backing to your project, help with building, and company on the raft. Choose them wisely and you will be rewarded greatly!