Duct Tape Kayak




About: I enjoy building and inventing; I love creating new things and improving on old ideas. I am a student at BYU and am studying under a Mechanical Engineering Major. I enjoy camping, hiking, and backpacking.

After watching the Mythbusters episode on Duct Tape Myths, I decided to take a whack at creating my own duct tape boat. Rather than the two-man sailboat that Jamie and Adam designed, I went for a much slimmer one-man kayak. Only $20 of supplies and a day or two of work; this Kayak makes for a great weekend summer project!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Materials

All that you need in the way of materials are some duct tape rolls, a little bit of wood glue, and wood for the frame. For the sake of simplicity and cheapness, I bought a good number of 3/16"x1-3/8"x8' cedar strips to make my frame. At about 90 cents apiece, they were the perfect option.

My materials list came out to this:

Three 55 yard rols of duct tape
8 cedar strips
1 bottle of gorilla wood glue

Altogether less than 20$.

Step 2: Design

As shown in the picture, the basic design consists of two full-length curved sides, a "hull" piece that follows along the bottom edge of the boat, and reinforcing "ribs" that provide the majority of the strength in the frame.

Once the frame is made, the "skin" of the boat -which consists of two layers of duct tape- stretches across the frame.

Step 3: Frame

There are 5 steps in the creation of the frame:

Step 1:
     Using 2 angled brace strips, bend the edge pieces and clamp them into place. Glue the seams between the braces and the edge pieces. (see Pictures 1 and 2)

Step 2:
    The "hull" piece consists of two angled pieces held between two straight strips. Once glued and attached, this piece constitutes the bottom edge of the kayak. (see Pictures 3, 4, and 5)

Step 3:
    As shown in Picture 6, cut out the vertical brace pieces that connect the horizontal braces in Step 1 to the "hull" piece in Step 2. Attach them as shown. (see Pictures 6, 7, and 8)

Step 4:
    Cut out and attach the "ribs" to the bottom edge of the boat and the curved side strips of the frame. My particular design included 6 of these "ribs" on each side. (see Pictures 9 and 10)

Step 5:
   Cut one of the full length strips into two thinner pieces; attach these at the front and back of the kayak and secure them about halfway along each of the "ribs". (see Picture 11)

Now you're finished with the frame!

Step 4: Duct Tape!

In order to make the entire "skin" out of duct tape, a minimum of 2 layers are needed. The first layer (as shown in Picture 1) is applied sticky-side-up, with each strip of duct tape overlapping halfway onto the last. Be careful when you are doing corners and angled edges and take your time so that you dont get ugly ripples. Once the first layer is applied, cover it with a second layer of tape (see Picture 4). This time, apply it sticky-side-down.

Additional layers can be added to increase strength and waterproof-ness, but at this point you're finished with the "skin" of the kayak.

Step 5: You're Finished!

At this point, you're basically done!

I would recommend taking time to smooth down all the duct tape seams to make sure they are tight and smooth. The last thing you want is water seeping its way into your Duct Tape Kayak!

Good Luck and enjoy skimming through the water in your sleek Duct Tape Kayak!

The Great Outdoors Duct Tape Contest

Finalist in the
The Great Outdoors Duct Tape Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Skateboard Contest

      Skateboard Contest
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    38 Discussions


    Question 7 months ago

    What is the width of the duck tape ?


    1 year ago

    This thing is impracticle.
    There is nothing but a wedge for the hull so there is no stability.

    It needs chines to make it stable


    1 year ago

    Wow wicked :) You could then fibre glass the outside :) I'm on it

    Really? Maybe i should try and make this with my dad at some point. Sounds awesome and not too hard to make. Maybe we could make 2.....


    8 years ago on Introduction

    make 2 of them and add a deck in the middle for a catamaran(i know i misspelled it) I tried it and it works beautifully.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Nah, you totally nailed the spelling. I was thinking build two small floats and a center hull and you could build a sweet trimaran with a mast and sails.


    5 years ago on Step 5

    This would be super cool done with clear packing tape. Probably need a couple more layers though.

    Kris T.

    5 years ago on Introduction

    2nd photo made me think of a water-residing version of Pyramid Head!

    That aside, the kayak turned out well. I wouldn't mind trying this out myself this summer, if I have time.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    try the out of the way wood shops. or bartering 4 them. or make them from thicker parts.???


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah omg! I just went to the most common hardware shop here and they were over $4 -$5!!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    nice kayak,would be interested in making one.but is there any mesurments on the cedar strips that you would be interested in shareing.......

    2 replies

    I'm thinking of building a sleeker touring modle of you design with PVC call it a brain fart but... A couple specs and a scale would be nice

    So do you have any measurements for this? Its a bit hard to plan this out with only 8 foot lengths of cedar strips to go on! What is the length of the bottom and the uprights at either end?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool I worked at a boy scout summer camp where we, the aquatics staff, built one of these. The only problem was launching without tipping, as without a flat bottom it is very difficult to keep stable until you are in it, and then it is still easy to fall out, very nice inststructable though.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    didnt the mythbusters make smthn similar? cool either way