Intro: Make a Simple, Inexpensive Kayak Stand in Under 15 Minutes
I don't know about you, but I've priced kayak stands on a number of different websites. I did not like what I saw. Some of these vendors want to charge hundreds of dollars for a lightweight, portable, collapsible stand. Why pay that much when you can build one on your own (using very simple tools) for about $26?! The whole process takes about 15 minutes.
I built these stands because I *hate* leaving my boats on the ground. They get filthy. They get scratched up. I once had a skunk get into the cockpit and use it as a hiding place. As expensive as kayaks are these days, it drives me nuts to see them sitting in the dirt. Unfortunately, I store my boats above my garage doors during the winter. It's a pain to have to hang them up after each time I use them in the summer, so I was looking for a way to conveniently get them off the ground, without having to go through all the trouble.
If this sounds like you, give my method a shot...
Step 1: Tools You'll Need
It doesn't get much simpler than these. You'll need...
1) A tape measure
2) A marker
3) A pair of ratcheting pipe cutters (a small hand saw works just as well, but using a saw makes a mess)
4) A rubber mallet
Step 2: Supplies You'll Need and Making Cuts
You will need:
1) Two 10' lengths of 1" PVC tubing
2) Two "X" connectors
3) Four "T" connectors
4) Eight 1" PVC caps
5) A thin, but strong, strap of some kind. (Those pictured are available from Home Depot for about $8.)
6) PVC cement
7) A knife
If you follow these instructions exactly, you'll use up every centimeter of the PVC tubing without a shred of wasted material. Measure each length on the tubing with the tape measure and the marker. You'll need:
1) Four pieces that are 16 inches long
2) Eight pieces that are 7 inches long
3) Two pieces that are 5 feet long
Step 3: Start With the "X-shaped" Supports
Start by applying some PVC cement to the inside of the X-shaped connector. Before you insert the any of the tubes, put some cement on the ends that are going to slide into the connector. This will ensure a good, solid connection. (It's a good idea to be outside, or in a well ventilated area, before using PVC cement. FUMES!)
Stick in two of the 16" lengths so that they form a "V" in one direction.
Stick in two of the 7" lengths so that they form a "v" in the other direction.
Put away the cement, because you're not going to be using it for a while after you're done with this step. It only takes a few minutes for the cement to dry enough for you to work with the assembled "X" pieces.
Step 4: Finish the "X-Shaped" Supports
Once the cement is dry enough to work with, assemble the rest of the components. DO NOT GLUE THEM, YET! Before you can do that, you need to dry-fit the whole thing to make sure that all the connections are straight. Once you have everything assembled, you can mark the pieces to ensure proper alignment before gluing them together.
1) At the base of the "small v" you just made with the 7" pieces of tubing, slap on the "T" connectors, ensuring that the open holes face the same direction.
2) Stick two more 7" pieces into the ends of the "T" connectors.
3) Apply PVC caps to the base.
4) Use your knife to cut yourself a length of strap that will act as a cradle. Make it a few inches wider than the top of the "BIG V."
5) Tuck strap down into the open ends of the 16" tubes.
6) Use the PVC caps to secure the straps to the top of the assembly. (It's going to be tight, so this is where the rubber mallet comes into play.)
Here's the clever bit of engineering: When you go to rest the kayaks in the "BIG V" part of the cradle, gravity will make the assembly push itself apart. The straps counteract the spreading, and keep the whole thing together. As the boat rests on the strap, it pulls the cradle arms *inward.* You might be able to get this contraption to work without straps, but over time it will gradually warp. The straps are a big part of what makes this work well.
Once you have both "X-shaped" supports assembled as shown, you're ready to move on to the next step!
Step 5: Install the 5' Lengths of PVC Tubing
Stick the ends of the 5' PVC tubing into the open ports on the "T" Connectors at the base of the "X-Shaped" supports. When you do this you'll see why it's a bad idea to glue everything together without doing a dry-fitting. Find yourself some level ground and adjust the whole thing until all four feet of the stand rest evenly, and the assembly is square.
You've got a couple of options here:
1) If you want the stand to be collapsible, DON'T glue it. I haven't glued any of the stands I've made out of 1" PVC, and they hold up beautifully. In the winter, I can just take them apart and store the stands on a shelf when I hang up the boats for the season.
2) If you intend to use these as more of a permanent thing, mark the connections so that you know how to put them back together in a way that will be square. Disassemble the stand and glue it up the same way you did with the "X" connector in the previous step.
If you want to get crazy with it, you could even figure out a way to put these stands on casters so the whole thing can roll into/out of your garage!
Step 6: Put Your Boat on Your New Stand!
As you can see, this stand works well for just about any size boat. The blue kayak in the picture is a tiny little 9' sit-on-top. The red boat is a 15' ocean kayak. The 1" tubing is plenty strong to support this kind of weight.
The green boat is a 16 foot tandem that weighs more than I would care to admit. (What a great boat, though! Seriously... if you can find one of these old Wilderness Systems tandems, it's worth every penny. That boat once flew off my truck in a storm on the Garden State Parkway at 70 mph. It flipped twice in the air and hit the pavement, nose first. The next morning it was out on the water like nothing had ever happened! The only damage was a scratch in the plastic.) For a heavier boat, I would recommend using 1 1/2" PVC. It will add about $10 to the total cost of the stand.
If you're going to be leaving these outside, make sure you place the boats in the cradles UPSIDE DOWN. That will keep any moisture, or rain, from collecting inside the boats. It will also preserve your seats and bungees from getting beaten on by the sun. I also recommend getting yourself a length of cable lock so that you can secure your boats to a tree, or something.