Duct Tape Boat V1.0




Introduction: Duct Tape Boat V1.0

About: High School Student. CEO and the founder of a high school's engineering club. Always curious. I love to build and design things that come to my mind. I wanna open up a ice cream parlor because I want free ice …

Duct tape is a "magical" item because you can build some of the coolest things with it.

Duct Tape Boat v1.0


Story time

2013 was the year when our high school formed a official student organization called H.E.A.T. ( hornet engineering and technology). That year, we finally had the time to build a duct tape boat and enter in our local Duct Tape Boat Race. Up to that point we only did robotics, but our membership increased when we announced that we were building a duct tape boat. Most thought "what?" and they were confused but quite interested. So, we formed a division in our student organization ,H.E.A.T., which was responsible for building a duct tape boat that would blow everyone out of the water. After that, we met after school to discuss the rules, then design and build. We then built the duct tape boat in about 10 hours (2 hours each day). Mamba has captured 1st place Youth Division title at the annual Ken Palmquist Duct Tape Boat Race. Then we did it again in 2014. We are currently designing a new one for the 2015 Race.

We like to share our design with our community so that we could increase competitiveness, which will ultimately push us harder to build a better engineered boat.

note: we are a non profit organization dedicated to engage our students in S.T.E.M. and raise awareness of engineering and technology in our community.

I'm posting this instructable in order to share our design with the internet world. So that you can go on adventures and enjoy nature.

v1.0 Mamba was designed for maneuverability and speed.
It can hold 2 people comfortably.

Lenght- 4.0 meters

Max Width- 4.5 feet

I hope you enjoy this instructables!

Step 1: Watch V1.0 Mamba in Action

Step 2: Terminology

Duct tape boat related terminology

Hull-A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat

Bow- The bow is the forward part of the hull of a ship or boat, the point that is usually most forward when the vessel is underway

Stern- The stern is the back or aft-most part of a ship

Keel- A structural keel is a beam around which the hull of a ship is built. The keel runs in the middle of the ship, from the bow to the stern, and serves as a basic foundation or spine of the structure, providing the major source of structural strength of the hull.

jib- a projecting arm

Waterline-The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.

Refer to this page for a illustration of where the parts are located usually.

Step 3: Supplies


Pvc pipes- 3/4 in

Fitting- 90° piece, 45° piece, 4 way cross, T-Joint, 1 Side outlet

Pvc adhesive- Pvc cement

Duct Tape- 50 yard duct tape x 7

Estimated total cost: $70-$130 (depends on where you buy your duct tape and pvc)

Over all, the duct tape costed us more than the pvc.



To save time: use a scroll saw/ or any other motorized cutting tool

Step 4: Build the Hull

First try to dry fit all of the pieces show in the picture above, to make sure you have the measurements right. You can use clamps or tape to hold the dry fitting together if they are falling apart. After your dry fitted boat looks good, you can disassemble and start gluing from bottom to the top.

Here is a great video on how to glue together PVC pieces with PVC primer and cement.

After you have glued all your pieces, you can start planning on how you are going to apply duct tape.

*I used Autodesk Inventor to design it ( its free for students and educators)

Step 5: Add Duct Tape

First layer
  1. Cover the ribs of the hull with duct tape going horrizontally
  2. Apply duct tape vertically for both the stern(back end) and the bow (front end)
  3. Go slowly and press firmly in order to avoid any bubbles or gaps

Step 6: Add Additional Layer

2nd Layer

  1. Go over the whole boat hornizontally starting at the ends
  2. Apply the duct tape firmly and carefully
  3. Keep overlapping the ductape until you meet in the middle

Step 7: Test

Go test your boat!

We tested our boat at Lake Norma. The lake is not every deep so, that is why we were not wearing any life jackets during the testing day.

I highly recommend you were life jackets, especially if you are not familiar with the waters. Our testers were experienced swimmers but we made them wear life jackets during the competition because safety is always the number one priority.

During testing:

Try to see if you can see if the water is seeping in.

Enjoy your hard-work.

After testing

See inside the boat for any water leakage.

If there is any leakage, try to mark the location for repair and drain out the water by flipping and shaking the boat.

Step 8: Add Final Touches

Final touches

We cut out letters from duct tape with a scissor and simply apply it wherever you prefer. (do not place below the water line because over time and usage, it will start to come off)

We named our boat Mamba. Mamba is a highly venomous snake and we felt like this boat should be named after a snake. Mamba just sounds very "watery" and powerful.

Write your motto on it, ours is "make it happen"

Put stripes along the boat to make it look modern and awesome.

If you had any leakages during the testing phase, you need to locate the leakage point you marked and repair it by applying duct tape to the area.

Step 9: Build an Effective Paddle

Building a paddle

During the testing phase we used a similar design to the one you see in this step but we covered it all over the paddle leaving a big air pocket inside. This was a huge problem because the water was seeping inside the paddle, making it really heavy and harder to paddle. So that is why we covered the paddle in a "webbed" duct tape pattern. By doing that it made sure that we will have no air pockets in which the water can get inside.

We got the idea to build that type of pattern when someone mentioned ducks and their webbed feet.

Items needed:

left over pvc pipes and fitting


Step 10: Optional: Build a Seat

We had left over pvc so, we made a seat.

The purpose of the seat was to distribute the weight whenver we stepped inside the boat.

You do not want to step inside of the boat, realizing you stepped on duct tape instead of pvc and see water coming inside.

The colored seat also makes the cockpit look fancy.

Step 11: Optional: Create a Camera Jib

We made a jib for our GoPro to get some really nice footage of Mamba in action.

We were pleased with the results.

All you need to do is cut a four way piece in half and then attach random a couple of angled fittings together with pvc. Make sure that the jib can see the pilot and the boat in the shot. So dry fit a couple of fittings and pvc before gluing.

Go over with left over duct tape to make it look artsy.

Tip: To be on the safe side, attach a lanyard to the jib. The lanyard is a security feature for those "just in case" moments.

Step 12: Watch V1.0 and V2.0 in Action.

v1.0 - Mamba

v2.0- Polaris

Step 13: Have Fun!

Piloting the boat is fun but the feeling you get whenever you see your build working successfully is incomparable.

After you are done piloting, you can clean it up and display it in your house. It reminds you of memories and all of the hard-work you've put into building it.

If you want to know more about our projects please visit engineering.bryantschools.org

I will be posting some of the projects we've worked on in our engineering department.

Please leave any comments or questions below!

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Participated in the
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Participated in the
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Participated in the
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    6 years ago

    Can you tell me the measurements of the boat because me and my friend are making this for a school project and we need the measurements like asap...


    7 years ago on Step 3

    i am planning to create this boat and i was wondering if you could tell me a specific materials list that includes the length of each pvc pipe piece and the brand of duct tape that you used


    7 years ago

    I'm going to try it for fishing


    7 years ago

    I love this idea! Did I see pvc pipe taped together so there was a flat surface?


    7 years ago

    What are the recommendations for the length of each part of the boat (pvc)


    Reply 7 years ago

    Thank you
    Thank you