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How to Build a Raft


Log Rafts

Log rafts were made of in the centuries past when lands were explored and timber was floated to market. Balsa wood rafts were also constructed for large ocean going rafts that many times weighed as much as 30,000lbs. Log rafts are classic way to travel and are a lot of fun to build. The rafts are not as affected by wind as some of their lighter cousins. The drawbacks to making a log raft is that the logs are heavy, the rafts can take a long time to build, the timber rafts can not be transported easily and the log rafts are hard to manouver.

Log raft

How to Make a Log Raft

Log raft
Home made log raft.

To make a decent size raft start by getting 5-8 logs down to the river or lake that are 8-12' long and at least 10-12" in diameter. Two or three other logs that are 3-4" in diameter and about 6" longer on each side of the raft will hold the logs together. The best logs for making a raft on are the lightest you can find because they will float the highest in the water and provide the most buoyancy not to mention they will be the easiest to work. Softwoods like pine and fir are good as well as poplar and balsa. You want to avoid woods like maple and oak as they will be hard to cut, move and won't float as well. Standing timber that is dead is also the best because it has the least amount of water so it is lighter. Note that the pictures below are for a small scale raft that would be fun for a child to play with. Much larger logs are nessesary for a full sized raft but the constructrction process will remain the same.

Step 1: Gather your logs and bring them to the river or lake side. Line logs up on shore or partially in water if you are making a full sized raft. One log can be moved easily but a lot of them lashed together will be much harder. Larger rafts may need more then two connector logs.

Building a log raft

Step 2: Position the outside log and the connector log. Tie a clove hitch around the end of the cross support.

How do you build a log raft Log raft construction clove hitch

Step 3: Wrap the rope around the bottom of the log two times each way with a cross in the middle. Pull the rope as tight as you can as you go.

Using lashings to build a log raft Assembling a log raft

Step 5: Make a final wrap around the middle wraps to tighten the ropes more. Then after pulling tight do a overhand knot around the connector log (Overhand knot is the first knot you make when tying a shoe). Repeat this process on the other end with the other cross support.

Making a log raft Making a log raft

Step 6: Push the next log into position for your log raft and wrap the rope under it and then over the connector. Unless your raft needs extra support the cross is not necessary on this step. Again wrap the rope in between the logs to tighten up the lashing.

Building a log raft

Step 7: Continue to tie logs onto both ends. Continue to do half hitches after each log.

How to build a log raft

Step 8: When all the logs are in place finish off the last log the same way that you started with the first log by crossing the log and doing a clove hitch on the top connector log

How to build a log raft