How to Build a Raft With Shipping Pallets

Updated November 21, 2016

Building and setting sail on a homemade raft can be a fun activity, or a small adventure to share with your family. The materials for homemade rafts can vary from bamboo to logs, but one of the easiest materials to use (because of its prefabricated structure) is shipping crates. Fastening a few together, while adding some inner tubes underneath to help with buoyancy and support, will create a simple, durable raft that you can make in just a few hours.

Place your four pallets side by side on a flat surface (such as the ground or a table). Once laid out flat, you want to form them into a wooden rectangle that measures 80-by-96 inches. This will be the floor of your raft.

Locate the braces that separate the top and bottom boards of each pallet. Each pallet should be constructed so that there are a number of boards on the bottom, separated by a brace that holds the top of the pallet off of the bottom (usually about 3-4 inches high), and then the boards on the top. Each of the braces should run vertically up the longer sides of the pallet (the 48-inch sides). While the pallets are placed in your rectangular formation from step 1, two braces from two adjacent pallets should be butting up against one another. Make sure this is the case.

Use a drill to screw six screws through one brace of one pallet into the adjacent brace. This will connect two pallets to each other. Do the same with the remaining two pallets. When completed, you should have two "pallets" (each "pallet" comprised of two smaller pallets), with 12 screws holding them together.

Place the twenty 96-inch boards on top of the pallet structure. Place them so that they span the entire length of the pallets, and place them directly next to each other, butting them up to one another as close as they can go. These boards should run perpendicular to the boards found on the top of pallets originally. Screw them into place. Try to secure them with at least four screws per board.

Inflate the four inner tubes and place them in the four corners so that none of the tubes extends past the boundaries of the frame. If you have more tubes and want to set them inside the boundaries, feel free to do so as this will add buoyancy to your raft.

Lash the tubes onto the bottom of the pallets with your rope. Make sure the ties are tight and the tubes are secure below the pallets.

Place the raft in the water and step on it to ensure that it floats.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 40x48-inch shipping pallets
  • 20 1x4-inch boards (96 inches long)
  • Screws
  • Rope
  • 4 (or more) inflatable inner tubes
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