DIY Canoe Cart

Written by tom king
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DIY Canoe Cart
A canoe cart makes it easier to get your boat to the lake. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Getting your canoe from the top of the truck to the lake can sometimes be a hike. A handy so-it-yourself canoe cart can make the trip a whole lot easier. To build one yourself, PVC makes an easy-to-use, waterproof, lightweight material and you can even make it so it disassembles to store in your boot. You won't need complicated tools or building skills and the cart rolls right down into the water on any beach.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 20 feet 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe, schedule 40
  • PVC cleaner
  • PVC cement
  • 6 PVC T's, 1 1/2 inch schedule 40
  • 4 PVC Right angle elbows, 1 1/2 inch
  • 4 PVC end caps, 1 1/2 inch schedule 40
  • Hacksaw
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Threader for the same diameter rod as the axle
  • 2 cart wheels - wide low profile or tall and narrow
  • Axle with wheel mounts to fit cart wheels -- 3 feet long
  • 2 styrofoam swim noodles with hollow centres
  • Sharp knife
  • Bag of zip ties

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  1. 1

    Cut an 18-inch piece of PVC for the axle housing. Clean the ends of the pipe and inside of T joints. Cement one of the straight-through openings of the T joints to the ends of the pipe. The third openings of the T's should be rotated to face the same direction at right angles to the axle housing.

  2. 2

    Cut two short pieces of PVC 3 inches long. Glue them into the open horizontal ends of the T joints on the axle housing and glue the caps on the outside ends. Drill axle diameter holes in the end caps.

  3. 3

    Test fit the axle in the axle housing. Mark and thread the axles from the end to 1 1/2 inches from the endcap. Slip the wheels over the axles and secure with bolts.

  4. 4

    Cut two PVC pipes one foot long and glue into the top opening of the axle housing T joints to make the uprights for the frame. Glue two T joints to the top of the upright pipes with the perpendicular openings facing each other. Cut a piece of PVC pipe to fit between the T-joints and glue it into place.

  5. 5

    Cut two 3-inch PVC pipes and glue them to the top of the upright T joints. Glue another pair of T-joints to the top of the uprights with the straight-through openings facing front to back, parallel to each other.

  6. 6

    Cut two 6-inch PVC pipes and glue them to the ends of the top T-joints facing what will be forward. Glue two PVC caps to the ends of these forward arms.

  7. 7

    Cut two 5-foot long PVC pipes and glue them into the top T-joints facing the rear. Glue two more elbows to the ends with the open ends facing each other. Cut a pipe to fit between them and glue into place.

  8. 8

    Slit the styrofoam noodles lengthwise. Cut into lengths to match the forward facing support arms and the sides of the handle pipes. Pry the noodles apart and wrap them over the forward support arms and handles to pad the canoe.

Tips and warnings

  • Set one end of the canoe on the cradle formed by the top supports and tie it to the frame. Lift the other end of the canoe and roll the whole thing to the water.
  • To make it so the cart disassembles, don't glue the handles and forward supports into the T-joints. Instead fit the pipes, drill a hole through the T-joint and pipes large enough for a keeper pin. That way you can remove the handle and support and unbolt the wheels and the whole assembly will lay flat in a boot. To assemble, bolt on the wheels, pin the handle and forward supports into the T-joints and you're ready to go.
  • To make tying the canoe to the cart easier, drill and attach a couple of eye bolts to a convenient place on the frame. Smaller eye bolt shafts will weaken the frame.
  • The cart can double for carrying kayaks and coolers.
  • Wear protective plastic gloves when handling PVC cleaner and cement.

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