If you like water sports, and you’re in for an extra cut of adrenaline, then rafting might be the thing for you! Read the following article and learn how to build a raft that holds together. Also, discover a few do’s and don’t’s that will make the difference between a hell of an adventure and the experience you wish you never had.

Building your raft

First of all, decide what type of raft you want to create, and to do that, you must ask yourself two things:

  1. What kind of waters will it run on (lake, wide/narrow river, is the water still or troubled, etc.)? 
  2. How do you want it to be propelled (paddles, sweeps, engine, sail)?  

Once you’ve made your choice, provide with every material needed and start your work. The most usual raft is made out of 2 logs, for the basic structure, a few planks for the deck, and styrofoam (an extra floating item) and this is the type I’m going to present today, as it’s the most accessible one. To steer the raft, you can use different types of paddles, also homemade.

Step 1. Find the logs

When you first start out designing your shipchoose the logs that will become the central structure. They should NOT be rotten, and about 3 inches thick. It’s up to you to determine its length, but keep in mind that the average raft is about 60 inches long and 25 inches wide.

Step 2. Place the deck

The most common material used for the floor is plywood, but you can use everything that floats – from soda cans to tyres, you can choose whatever suits your ideal image of the raft.

Make sure the deck is about 1 inch thick and covers the entire surface between the two logs, with an extra 10 inch for aerodynamics and stability. You can tie it to the logs using parachute cord, or simply nail them altogether (as it provides more safety than the first option).

Step 3. Cover the deck with styrofoam and varnish the whole raft so it won’t float apart.

Step 4. Build the oars

You can easily create the paddles you need by using club-shaped lumber for the handle and plastic, plywood or metal for the blade.

Do’s & Don’t’s


  • make sure your raft is strong enough to face eventual currents if you go down a stream or a flowing water;
  • pay attention to the streams and always stay in control of the raft;
  • provide the First-Aid Kit on board (or at least a life buoy and/or lifejacket);
  • take lessons and/or follow a water safety course


  • wear the wrong clothing – cotton is highly absorbent and is counterindicated; water suits, neoprene, and wool are your best friends when it comes to water repellents. When it comes to shoes, you can go for water shoes or old sneakers – never flip flops or anything that isn’t strapped to your feet.
  • go rafting completely unprepared – learn some paddling and steering tricks and techniques that will come in handy
  • go rafting alone – always choose a partner, no matter how calm the water may seem

Have you ever built a raft? How did things work? Share your story and advice in the comments below!

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