How to build a boat cradle

Written by will charpentier
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The easiest boat cradle to build is one made from a former boat trailer. After you move the boat to the cradle and strap it in, you put the cover over the boat and forget boating until you begin fitting out for the next season. The hardest part of the project is putting the boat into the cradle, an effort which is facilitated by the use your boat's trailer jack and a few jack stands.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2-inch square aluminium or steel tubing (sides)
  • 3-inch square aluminium or steel tubing (footing)
  • Welding machine
  • 2-inch tie-down straps (1 for every 18 inches of boat length)

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  1. 1

    Weld the square tubing together to form two rectangular metal frames to form the sides of the cradle. Each should be 3/4 the length of your boat and 1-1/2 times the height of your boat from the keel to top of the gunwales. Weld additional vertical supports into the frame every 4 feet.

  2. 2

    Mark the 3-inch tubing so that one mark is 1/4 the length of the tube from one end and the other mark is 1/4 the length of the tube from the other end.

  3. 3

    Set the ends of the rectangular metal frames across one length of 3-inch tubing at the marks, so that the 3-inch tubing is perpendicular to the frame. Stand a frame up and spot weld the 3-inch tubing to the bottom of the frame at your mark. Repeat for both ends of both rectangular frames.

  4. 4

    Cut four pieces of the 2-inch tube to act as braces. Weld them between the 3-inch tube footing and the top of each end of the vertical frame.

  5. 5

    When you are ready to cradle your boat, move the trailer into the cradle, lower the front of the trailer, raising the stern of the boat. Set jack stands under the stern. Use the screw jack on the trailer to raise the front of the trailer and boat and slip jack stands under the bow of the boat.

  6. 6

    Lower the front of the trailer; the boat will be supported by the jack stands. Suspend the slings from the top rails of one side of the cradle, run the slings under the boat and secure the slings tightly to the other side of the cradle.

  7. 7

    Remove the jack stands.

Tips and warnings

  • Welding and the work of moving boats to a cradle each involve known hazards and appropriate caution is advised.

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