Picture of How to build a river raft frame
Why spend the big money on a raft frame? You can save a lot of money and build a comparable frame with as many options as you desire! Our cost was $340 and a comparable frame is over $500. The weight wasn't much more.
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Step 1: Material Required

Picture of Material Required
The following items are needed for a complete raft frame: galvanized steel pipe, QuickFit clamps, oar mounts, oar locks, and oar lock springs.

We are using QuickFit clamps from and galvanized steel from Home Depot wich is used to build chain link fences. The oar mounts, locks, and springs can be purchased from or

The completed weight is only a few pounds more than a comparable aluminum frame on the market.

Time spent to build the frame depends on how you choose to cut the galvanized pipe. Other than cutting, this frame assembles pretty quickly. Our kids thought it was a lot of fun assembling the frame.

Step 2: Additional items for assembling frame

Picture of Additional items for assembling frame
Items needed: tape measure, marker, allen wrench. One of the following items for cutting galvanized pipe: hax saw, pipe wrench, or power saw.

Step 3: Selecting your pipe

Picture of Selecting your pipe
We purchased galvanized pipe from both Home Depot and Lowe's. We wanted the 1.660 chain link line post and not the top rail tube.

The top picture shows the pipe from Lowe's and the bottom pipe is from Home Depot. The price in our market was the same at both stores; however Lowe's pipe was a lighter gauge and seemed to compress more then we liked when the QuickFit clamp was tightened on the pipe.

Home Depot's 16 gauge in our market is what we are recommending because the pipe doesn't compress down when the hex nut on the QuickFit clamp is tightened down.
CameronT329 days ago


RobW6 vladivastok4 months ago

That's called forward rowing, or pushing... of course you can, but once you try pulling the oars you will see a huge difference in the amount of power you can apply.

jdo0021 year ago
what size oar mounts did you use?
Dr.Bill4 years ago
One of these days I'm gonna put together that Dual Outrigger Indonesian Fishing Canoe with the inboard gasoline motor and triangle sail and post it here.
then Dr.Bill4 years ago
samkinser4 years ago
Has anyone besides me had difficulty in contacting FrontierPlay? I ordered parts from them four days ago and have had no confirmation on my order. They have not returned my multiple calls or answered any e-mail. I don't know if my order went through or not. I can't even cancell the order (if they received it) to replace it with NRS fittings. I believe I'll stick with NRS after this.
helrzr6666 years ago
Hey this is an awesome guide for building a frame for a raft. My wife and I are looking into making something similar for our little sevylor fishing raft. I was thinking PVC since it will be mostly calm water with our little boat. I would be grateful for any input some people might have. Thanks!
jackcocatoo6 years ago
Why not go to and order a a 3 bay basic fitting frame for $410.. Aluminum pipe, 6063 1-1/4", mag-alum fittings, anodized pipe, light-weight, and professional service. Whats your time worth.
I made mine in an hour once I had my materials. For me it was a no brainer, Under $200 in materials, thanks to the OP for this idea.
and I forgot to add I used 6061 aluminum pipe and fittings from ebay 6 bucks a pop.
you can get the pipe couplings at fastenal, and the offset for you foot bracket can be bent by an electrician on a chicago style or greenlee 555, simple 4 bend saddle. I added extra hypolon under the pipe fittings to prevent wear. Also when using the steel fittings with the stainless set screw I recommend a light coat of grease to keep the gulding down from the dissimilar types of metals
brykelly7 years ago
first off nice job! I'm am going to replicate this project but I have a question. In your opinion do you all think that 6061-t6 pipe in 1-1/4" will be strong enough. I have a local shop that I can get it from although its more expensive I would like to save weight. is there a big difference in strength between the two? I will be using the same fittings. what would you guys use, aluminum or steel? same diameter tube. (without cost as a deciding factor) thanks
cproctor7 years ago
I just made myself a frame. Awesome! I wanted my side rails to be longer than the 8 feet max pipe length available in Home Depot. Maybe you can get 1 5/8 pipe in longer lengths at a specialty store, but I found another solution: In the fencing aisle, they sell a sleeve that is meant to join two smaller top rails for fences. With a little hammering, these will fit flush inside the 1 5/8 pipe that you're using for frames, making a smooth join. Don't center the sleeve evenly between the two pipes; this would put the crimp right under the join. This should be stronger than the rest of the pipe, but use it at your own risk.
nagutron8 years ago
Looks pro. Great job documenting, too. I'd love to see some action shots when you get a chance to try it out!
few tighten the fit between t-fitting and pipe, slip raft (repair) fabric in and under the T fitting, it snugs it up. NRS sells end plugs for female opening at side tubes....or run them long and add crutch style end caps. Consider putting (approx) 18" x 18" corner flat pieces on all corners--use diamond plate or plywood, to make step location or place to strape your ammo can, or first aid kits, etc.
tavleen7 years ago
Very helpful topic. Made a row farme very successfully. F.Y.I -- Bought SLIP ON FITTINGS and Aluminum pipe(which is much better than steel pipe) on It is cheap and best. ebay store name is EZsMART
noahw8 years ago
This is an awesome project! Pro frames for rafts have welded connections and can cost well into the thousands of dollars range. You have designed and built a comparable frame for way less and you're not sacrificing much quality at all.

Have you given any thought to how the quick connect will wear on the top of the raft over time? I doubt this will be an issue on your NRS raft - but on the older canvas/rubber rafts long term abrasion between the frame and the raft tends to wear the tube down.

I think that the cost of rafting gear is a huge obstacle that keeps people off rivers. Have any good ideas on how to build your own white water raft without too much trouble? The rafting company I worked for used Avon rafts - and I know they can get pretty expensive.

Tim Anderson is building some wooden paddles around the tower in the next few weeks - so maybe if we combine forces we can have a DIY rafting trip!

Excellent work!