Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

With PVC Pipe, Plastic Sheet, and Duct Tape You Can Build a Boat

Ben Glick and his son Daniel of Albuquerque, NM wanted to build a skin-on-frame kayak for lake fishing, and being a mechanical engineer, the elder Glick wanted a quick and simple way to test the design. At the risk of sounding too fancy, a prototype was needed.

They settled on the idea of making a frame of PVC pipe, lashing it together with duct tape, and using 4-mil-thick construction plastic sheeting for the outer skin. When tested, however, it sat lower in the water than desired, and thus became prototype number one.

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The small fishing boat has a frame of PVC pipe lashed with duct tape and covered with plastic construction film

For prototype number two the base was widened and brackets made from the PVC pipe were added to hold the frame pieces in the proper position. The duct tape lashing on number one had allowed two joints to shift slightly. Empty plastic milk jugs were added to aid flotation.

The second version was built at a campsite next to Cochiti Lake, which sits behind a dam on the Rio Grande River north of Albuquerque. The build began at 9:00 am and the boat was in the water at 2:00 pm, with time taken for lunch and photo documentation of the process. Simultaneously, Daniel Glick designed and built a paddle, also using the PVC pipe.

The boat design has proven to work well, however Ben Glick may have created a dilemma for himself. He found he was enjoying designing and building the boats as much as he liked fishing from them.

If this type of boat building has caught your fancy,  Glick says total cost to put the boat in the water was less than $25, and he has provided detailed instructions and materials lists on another website.

I originally spotted Glick’s boat project on the website PVC Innovation World, whose founder Adam Withrow describes it as “…the place for people who have seen what a little imagination can do to an ordinary plastic pipe.” There are DIY how-to articles on making tables and chairs, artistic public space seating, a spindle for turning newspaper into yarn, and much, much more—all based on PVC pipe. It’s a great site for browsing, and learning how to build a marshmallow gun.

4 Responses to “With PVC Pipe, Plastic Sheet, and Duct Tape You Can Build a Boat”

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