How to Build a Raft Using Shipping Pallets

pallet on rebar image by Derek Abbott from

Building a raft can be a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. With inexpensive materials, simple tools, and a quiet afternoon on a pond, you can turn a couple of old shipping pallets and some inner tubes into a float-ready sailing device.

Place four pallets flat on the ground in a rectangle formation, setting them side by side (not on top of one another). The total dimensions of your newly created wooden frame (this will be the floor of your raft) should be 96 inches long and 80 inches wide.

Use your drill or screwdriver to screw the pallets together. Each pallet should consist of horizontal boards on the bottom, three vertical braces on the side (two on the outside and one in the middle), and a number of boards laying flat, horizontally for the top. When the four pallets are placed in the 2x2 rectangular configuration (96-inch-by-80-inch), the vertical braces of the two adjacent pallets will butt up to one another. Use 6 screws to connect one pallet to the one directly next to it (connecting the two braces that are touching). Therefore, once completed, you will have used 12 screws for this step. Because the braces only run vertically, however, you will only be able to connect two adjacent pallets together--You will not be able to connect the top row of pallets to the bottom row of pallets.

Place your 20 96-inch long boards side by side on the top of the four pallets. Place them so that they are perpendicular to the boards of the pallets. The new boards should run the entire length of the 96-inch length of the wooden frame. Therefore, the boards will span two pallets. Screw them into place, using eight screws per board. Push the boards as close together as you can and screw them each onto the pallets below. This will now have secured the four pallets into one large raft.

Inflate your inner tubes and place them in a rectangular configuration (separate from the raft for right now). The configuration should measure 96x80 inches to match your raft. If you can fit smaller tubes into empty spaces in the rectangle, do so. This will add buoyancy.

Place the four-pallet raft on top of the four inner tubes--placing a tube at each of the four corners.

Lash the inner tubes onto the bottom of your four pallets. Because of how pallets are constructed, it will not be difficult to find holes to lash the rope through, making them secure. Secure all four tubes.

Move the raft onto the water and step aboard, testing the buoyancy and flotation.