6 Ways to Build Your Own Boat


Boats can be a lot of fun, but most are constructed in time-tested traditional methods. This usually works quite well considering the thousands of years of development that has gone into them. If, however, you want to buck tradition, here are six boats that can serve as inspiration for something truly unique!


Pop Pontoon

Pontoon boats are great for cruising around bodies of water at low speeds, but why settle for two air compartments? This boat utilizes about 2,400 soda bottles in two pontoon structures made of pressure-treated lumber to keep the boat above water. It cruises slowly at around five miles per hour.


Concrete Canoe

Concrete and boats don’t generally go together, but building a canoe out of this material makes an interesting exercise for civil engineering students. If you’d like to see these boats in action, the competition is at Clemson University this year from June 20-22. Go Tigers!


Travel Trailer Converts into a Houseboat

Attaching a camping trailer to a pontoon is something that I’m sure many have dreamed about. This “botorhome,” however, manages to be usable on land and sea (I would assume calm seas) by way of a roughly 1½ hour conversion, adding eight polyurethane pontoons to it.


Bamboo Boat

Although this construction method is likely quite familiar in some parts of the world, Westerners may be interested in this technique for building a boat. It appears that to construct these craft, several large stalks of bamboo are simply lashed together. I would assume that the stalks are sealed to keep the water out. Considering the strong and hollow nature of bamboo, this would be an ideal simple boat material.


Cardboard Boat

According to this video, “One of the most effective ways of convincing people that you’re crazy is to tell them you’re going to build a boat out of cardboard.” This may be true, but the boat, inspired by flimsy models from cardboard boat competitions (yes, this is actually a thing), appears to be quite robust.


PVC Pipe Boat

Naturally, PVC pipe, a true Maker wonder-material, has a place on this list. The simple idea behind this craft was to build a frame out of pipe. The pipe was then covered with a heavy-duty tarp to keep water out, and a piece of plywood was added on the bottom to distribute the passenger load. The boat floated successfully, which is great for the roughly $100 price tag! It’s also possible to build a “PVC Kayak” if that is more your style.

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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

View more articles by Jeremy S Cook


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