I saw a floating lounger big enough for 6 adults online for about $700. I thought it was pretty cool, but way too expensive. Plus it weighted over 40lbs, not a very user friendly toy for dragging in and out of the lake by yourself. I really liked the idea, but I had to fit it into my budget for toys, so this is what I came up with. Its just about 10lbs, and made with pool noodles, some sewing, and glue. I made mine 7' by 10' but you can really go as big as you want by adding more noodles.
After a weekend of a dozen people, the raft basically held together, however the glue between the noodles is failing. My belief is the following adjustment to the design:
the gorilla glue on the hose worked fine, the gorilla glue on the noodles doesn't work. After all the noodles were sewn together, the noodles all stay in place, but if you sit on the seam or fold the raft, the hose in the noodle will pull out as the glue doesn't have any strength. I believe if I just extend the hose pieces a lot longer, say 6-10 inches into each of the noodles instead of just 1-2 inches, there won't be any way the lip of the noodle will slip off of the hose. Also the loops in the middle go a long way to keeping your butt from breaking through, and I'd recommend more of them.
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Step 1: The BOM and Gluing
So here is what I used:
74 5' pool noodles from five below (I got lucky and they were 25% off so I got them for $0.75 each)
1 10' section of 1" outer diameter hosing from Home depot.
3 50' lengths of polycord from the dollar tree
a 16" piece of 10 gauge copper wire as a needle
some sewing thread
The first step is to cut the 10' section of hosing into 37 pieces about 2-3" long put some gorilla glue on the inside hole of one end of noodle, and insert the piece of pipe so that it is glued in place with most of the hose sticking out. Let dry
When dry, you repeat the gluing process on another noodle join the noodles together. This effectively makes the noodle 10 feet long, they work really well. Repeat this for all the noodles thus creating 37 10' noodles.
Step 2: Sewing Them Together.
I added comments to the pictures, but what you do here is make a needle out of the 10 guage wire (yiou can use a coat hanger if you like,) and then sew across the noodles puncturing the noodles in the middle, and making loops around the end noodles so the rope won't pull back through. the noodles. The last picture shows the pattern I followed.
If you look carefully, you'll see I went all around a noodle in the middle every 10-20 noodles to lock things in place. After I floated my raft, I realized adding more of these loops would probably be a good idea.
Step 3: Finishing Touches, and Have Fun!
when you make the final loops in the corner, I made a bigger loop (a bowline) so I have a place to attach an anchor so the raft won't float away on the lake. I am pretty happy how well this stayed together when we climbed on board, now this raft is nowhere near as strong as the $700 one, you can't stand on it, but for laying out is was perfect. You do have to lye perpendicular to the noodle or else you will squish the noodles open. If you make more loops in the middle this might stop this problem.
What is really good about this design is the the noodles rolls up real easy and one person can easily handle pulling it out he lake rolling it up and storing it.
Runner Up in the