How to Build an Inner Tube Raft

There are few joys in life quite like spending a lazy afternoon drifting down a river on an inner tube raft. Rafts can range from the simple set of tubes joined together to keep your buddies nearby to a floating village complete with many of the comforts of home. Before you embark for your trip, decide which type of raft suits you best and get to building. Then, grab an iced tea and the sunscreen and prepare for a great trip.

Inflate one inner tube (using an air compressor) for each person going on the trip.

Inflate an extra inner tube or two for each of the coolers you plan to take.

Wrap rope around one side of two inner tubes.

Tie the rope in a knot.

Tie another knot in the rope.

Continue Steps 3 through 5 for each of the remaining inner tubes. Remember that they can be joined in a line or in a cluster.

Cut three 2-by-4 boards to 45 inches in length. These will be the top, bottom and middle of the raft "box."

Cut two 2-by-5 boards to 96 inches in length. These will be the right and left sides of the raft "box."

Use 3-inch decking screws and attach the shorter board to the end of the longer board. The shorter board will be attached to the inside of the larger board.

Attach the other long board to the outside of the short board.

Attach a second long board at the opposite end of the two long boards.

Measure halfway up each of the long boards and mark the boards.

Screw the third short board at the marks.

Cut a piece of plywood 48 inches across by 96 inches long.

Attach the plywood to the frame with decking screws.

Cut four 2-by-4 boards to 76 inches in length.

Measure 5 inches from the edge of the box that you have built. The measurement should be taken on the "open" side of the box--the side without the plywood.

Attach one of the 76-inch long boards at the 5-inch mark.

Measure 30 inches from the edge of the board that you just attached.

Attach another board at the 30-inch mark.

Repeat Step 13 and Step 14 for the remaining boards.

Inflate four inner tubes.

Position four inner tubes on top of the boards you just attached.

Tie the tubes to the boards using a double knot, as explained in the Simple Raft directions.


Once you complete the Complex Raft, you can use your own ideas to make it larger or add extras to the deck.


Be sure you use appropriate life vests for all people who will use the rafts.

Things You'll Need

  • Inner tubes
  • Air compressor
  • Rope
  • 2-by-4 boards
  • Decking screws
  • Plywood
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About the Author

Dawn Roberts has been writing professionally since 1996. Her stories have appeared online and in print. She has also been heard on various radio stations. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Pennsylvania State University and was awarded the Hearst Award.