How to Build a Raft

Rafts are possibly the most basic form of flotation craft. Building a raft offers simplicity in both production and practical use. From a few pieces of driftwood fastened together to a bundle of gathered logs from nearby trees, many things can qualify as a raft.

For those who are into survivalist hobbies or who simply want to learn what to do in one of those worst case scenarios, learning how to build a raft building can be a worthwhile pursuit. Building rafts can also be a fun summertime activity for beach outings and camping.

This article will show you how to build a raft by breaking down the process into three parts: materials, steps and building tips. While building a raft can seem daunting and physically demanding, it can be a fun and relatively painless project, if you plan out your course of action adequately and obtain the right tools and materials.

You aren’t reading this article from a deserted island, so you have the convenience of being able to purchase items, take your time and pick the right materials, redo bad work, and experiment with different design ideas. Once you learn how to build a raft in a structured situation, you’ll know the techniques for building rafts when it all goes down.

Planning Stage – Building a Raft Materials

Decide what materials are necessary for building the raft. Get an idea of the design parameters for the raft and compile a list of steps that will be executed to actually construct the raft we want.

To start, here is a list of things you will need to construct the raft. This list is by no means the end-all raft supply list, and due to the nature of raft building, you may be fine using the things around you as substitutions for some items and tools as necessity dictates.

You can also add your own ideas to the design to improve upon the raft for your specific requirements. Here are the materials:

These things will get you on your way to building a very simple raft. If you want to get more advanced, such as building a raft with a sail, you can always acquire additional logs and some sort of large cloth or tarp to use as a sail and add it to our basic design.

For now, we will focus on the most primitive type of raft, which is also the easiest to design and create.

Planning Stage – Raft Building Design & Steps

How to Build a Raft

How to Build a Raft

To get an idea of the actual design of our raft, you will simply have to imagine the type of prototypical raft often seen in survival programs in movies or television. This raft is constructed of six long parallel logs underpinned by the two smaller logs and bound together with twine.

When finished, the raft should be rectangular in shape and as solid as possible with few gaps between the logs if any.

The planning stage is instrumental to constructing your raft the right way. Making a list and committing yourself to following it will help keep you focused during the construction process. We will break the constructions process into different phases:

Building Phase – How to Build a Raft

Actual construction shouldn’t be too difficult, though there are some things to take into consideration. When in the first phase, try to find a formation for the logs that places them as tightly adjoining as possible. This may entail rolling the logs so they are flush or scraping knots and curved spots so they can lie flat against another log.

For the second phase, the cutting phase, you will want to make all of your notches about 2” deep and wider at the bottom than at the top. After each of the 6 logs has a notch at each end, you can slide the two shorter logs into the slots to stabilize the entire craft. Since you made the notches smaller at the top, the logs will want to stay in and not fall out.

Finally, for phase three, you can never use too much rope or too many knots. Securing the logs not only lengthwise but also in diagonal rope patterns is advised. Basically, you want the logs pushed together from all angles to ensure the most structural stability.

Learning how to build a raft is fairly easy but can be time consuming. It would be good to make this project a family affair as it can be fun as well as educational.

For more raft building instructions, we recommend:

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