How to Build a Whitewater Raft Frame
You can use the following plans for free. All I ask is that you leave a comment letting me know that you are using the plans. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While saving money for a custom built aluminum expedition frame I needed a frame I could use for day trips on the local rivers. NRS has Skidgraud Raft Frame for use with their smaller boats. I needed something for my 13.5' NRS E135 self bailer.
Here is how I built on link the NRS frame.
2 NRS Steel Oarlock Stands - $44.95
1 sheet 3/4" sanded plywood (seats) - $34.00
2 6' 1x8 sanded poplar or oak (frame - I used Poplar, cheaper and lighter) - $12.00
1 small can of Shellac
1 small bag of play sand (used to sprinkle of Shellac for non skid surface)
1 brush for Shellac
8 3/8" width 1-1/4" length bolts (bolting boards together)
8 3/8" width 1" length bolts (bolting Oarlock stands to frame)
8 3/8" width 1-1/4 length bolts
16 3/8" washers
4' of 6' wide outdoor carpet (glued under frame to protect boat)
1 small tub of carpet adhesive
Table saw (or have Home Depot cut plywood into 2 seat pieces)
Router (to round the edges of all boards)
Wood plane (if you need to shave wood after routing)
1-1/4" wood drill bit (to counter sink bolts in frame)
3/8" drill bit
1. From plywood cut the 2 seats. Mine measured 60" x 12". The seats should reach from center tube to center tube.
2. Cut your rails. I left mine at 6', no cutting.
3. Router the seat pieces top and bottom to create curved edgets
4. Router the rails, just the top is needed.
5. Sand the edges of all boards
6. Shellac all the boards. Sprinkle sand on the tops of the boards when the Shellac is freshly wet. I found some mesh material in the garage that helped me even sift the sand on to the boards.
7. According to the Shellac instructions, apply a second and third coat. Your sand will now be securly held to the boards.
8. After Shellac has dried, lay out the frame. The seats go down first, the rails on top. Drill two off-set holes in each junction where the boards meet. Start with the 1-1/4" bit for the first 1/4" or so then finish by going completely through the boards with the 3/8" bit. This will give you your counter sink for the top of the frame.
9. Now you need to counter sink the bottom of the frame for all holes. This was trickier. My method was to find a 1x4" scrap piece of wood and drill a hole all the through it with the 1-1/4" bit, makign a jig. Then I took each board of the frame, turned it over and placed the jig over the holes I made in step 8 and clamped the jig to the frame piece. I then used the 1-1/4" bit to counter sink 1/4" deep into the bottom of the plywood seats.
10. Lay out the frame again and make sure you have the holes lined up before proceeding. It is time to put the boards together permanently. Glue both surfaces and then bolt all boards together. Use washers on both sides of the wood to give strength and avoid ripping bolt or nut through the frame. Tighten and let sit for night. Maybe throw on another coating of shellac. Consider using caulking to fill in and around bolt heads and nuts.
11. Glue carpet strips everywhere under the frame to protect your boat.
12. Attach the oarlock towers using the 3/8" 1" bolts (more on this later)
13. Drill 1-1/2" or 2" holes in corners for straps to attach frame to boat.
14. Go boating!