Introduction: Recycle Raft

What brought me to creating these plans for a recycled boat was when I started to build a skin-on frame kayak. From the start it was very expensive and there were many processes that you could only perform in a wood shop. I figured that if people wanted to have the satisfaction of building a boat, but still didn't have the money or the space and materials to build it that there should be an alternative option. I saw lots of plastic water bottle boats but most of these used glue and a ridiculous amount of bottles. I wanted to create my own way of building it without so that it was easy to understand, and didn't require any special materials that aren't normally in a household.


Grocery Bags x 500

Water bottle with caps x 300

Gatorade Bottles x 50 (no cap needed)

Gallon Jugs x 4

Parchment Paper x 1 roll

Iron x 1

Heat Gun or Hairdryer x 1

Latex paint x 1 bucket

Step 1: Making the Skin

Start Ironing bags together, two bags works just fine. Make sure that the parchment paper is on top of the bags. You can also lay a piece of parchment paper underneath the bags if you are worried about the surface you are ironing on.

Once you have a few ironed together, start connecting the bags together by overlapping their sections.

Keep going until you have a large enough surface to lay down on.

Step 2: Fitting the Gunwales

Cut off the bottoms of the Gatorade bottles. Push another bottle into the bottom of it and make sure that the whole top is inside with some material overhang. Shrink the bottle on top into the crease of the other with the heat gun or hairdryer.

Repeat this process until you have a pole of bottles about the height of your shoulders.

You need two of these.

Step 3: Laying Out Forms

Sit with your back up and the gunwales next to you and make sure that they are long enough so that they wrap around your feet and stretch beyond your back.

Make two forms:

Tie up the front two bottles using a plastic bag/ string/ rubber band.

Form 1 is to keep the bottles stretched out.

Form 2 is to keep them contained in the back.

Once you have your shape then you can draw the inside of the form with a sharpie. This will let you know where you need to place your bottles.

Step 4: Attaching the Bottles

With your form drawn out, start laying bottles down in rows. One row at a time is then wrapped down tight with the ironed bags.

This is the bottom of the raft, and it is built up with two full layers of bottles.

Make sure that you prep enough bags so that you can have enough without making more during this step.

Step 5: Adding the Back Rest

Flip the sheet over once you have the two layers of bottles on the bottom.

Lay down two gallon jugs and wrap the bags over top of them and iron the excess material down tight.

Add another layer of two gallon jugs and secure them with ironing bags over that.

Make sure the back and front are also secured with bags and that they are ironed tight in place.

Step 6: Wrapping Up

Take the excess material from the back, and wrap it over the backrest. This will secure the bags down and make it so that you can put more pressure on the back.

Attach the gunwales, and wrap the extra material over them. Make sure that they are wrapped tight and in the right place. Iron this down on to the top of the raft.

Step 7: Finishing

With the latex paint, take a chip-brush and start applying it directly to the bags. Make sure to start on the bottom first, I recommend putting two layers on the bottom and to fill as many gaps as you can find.

Flip after a few hours and then apply the coat on the top.

When I tested this in the water, some of the latex paint was falling off, so I recommend trying another finish that would adhere to plastic bags a bit better.

Step 8: Paddle (Optional)

Using the same method of heat shrinking bottles together, I constructed a paddle.

The scoop at the end of the paddle is shaped out of a gallon jug.

Step 9: Testing

Final test, this was for the most part successful. Since this was my 1st prototype there were some leaks inside and holes that I was not able to see when finishing the raft. I recommend spending your time to make sure that this is wrapped really well.

In the next prototype I would also add another layer of bottles so that it would be a little more buoyant.