DIY Pontoon Boat: How to Build a Pontoon Boat?
It's astonishing how many pontoon boat manufacturers are available in the market, but what's more surprising is, even with this much competition, prices remain stagnant. Even the best pontoon boat for the money will run you down $18000-$20000.
You could consider buying a second-hand boat, but then you'll always be in fear of it breaking down. And even then, buying an entire boat for maybe just a weekend trip isn't a rational decision. Rather, why not let your creativity free and make something you'd be proud of.
What You’ll Need?
Starting any DIY project, you’ll need a bunch of materials. Better get that arts and crafts kit out! We’ll just include an entire list of the things you’ll need to make the thing. For that, we recommend you gather these in advance, avoiding having to run off to the store, just to get some glue!
These materials are for a 7ft×10ft pontoons, but we’re not going to limit your creativity. You can make a bigger one, just make sure to use materials proportionally.
For the deck of the boat, you’ll want some hardwood. You’ll get a wide variety of wood available at your local hardware store. Make sure you buy something that has good buoyancy properties, and is strong enough to hold a good amount of weight, and doesn’t catch rot easily.
Get planks measuring 2×6's, 2×4's, and 2×2's; these should be good enough to build the frame of the deck. You'll also need a few boards to go on top, make sure the boards meet the requirements.
The problem with building your boat is getting it to float; a well-balanced boat isn't easy to come by. Technology has made it possible; however, for a beginner with no experience, this will be a nightmare.
Find the right size plastic barrels for the job; we're using around six 30-gallon barrels. You won't have to go to a store to buy them; you might just get them for free or at a discounted price at any recycling center.
If you are getting your barrels from a recycling center, make sure you double-check them. Check for damages, cracks, and any sort of fragile or weak zones on the body of the drum.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to consider a leak check. Fill up the barrels a third of the way, with water. Then turn them upside down and check if any of the water leaks out. The last thing you want is one of your barrels filling up with water while you’re in deep water.
Once you're done gathering all the necessary materials, gather the smaller bits and pieces.
You won't be needing anything fancy, most of the things already available in your garage will do. However, do make sure you have enough glue, screws, and nuts. It'll feel extremely gruesome for having to run around for such small things.
Once you’re done sorting out and making sure all your material is up to mark. It’s time to let that inner child of yours out. Because this DIY project is just like an arts and crafts session for adults.
We're asking you to do this straight at the beginning, mainly so you can save a bunch of time. This is the process by which we'll ensure that you remain dry throughout your trip.
You would want to empty each barrel of water and get them dry. Once you're done securely, seal each lid. Tighten them with a wrench to make sure that they're completely sealed. Lastly, spread an even layer or two of caulk on each lid and allow it to cure for around 2hrs. Making sure nothing goes in and out of that seal.
Now that your barrels are resting, its time to build up the skeleton that's going to hold the entire ship together. This process involves a few numbers, so you'll want to bear with us. However, on the off chance, you don't understand these instructions, call up a carpenter to get an insight.
Firstly, form the shape of the boat, cut up 2×6's into two 10 feet long, and two 7 feet longboards. Cut each of the ends at a 45-degree angle, secure all the sides together using 4" screws, putting it together like Lego.
Secondly, cut up two 2×4’s to the length of 11’9” and run them down lengthwise from the 10ft side of the boat. Secure these tightly to ensure the boat maintains a sturdy structure. Make sure that each beam is placed 15.5” apart, to have enough space to fit in the drums.
Keep another two pieces of either 2×4 or 2×2 boards, place these between the lengths of each barrel. Trapping each barrel, cutting down on any sort of movement from the barrels, also keeps them stuck in place.
Once you’re done designing the entire frame, sand down the wooden pieces to smoothen them out. Liberally apply a coat of varnish to both the inner and outer surface, helping the wood to stay resistant from rot and water.
The boards you’ve gotten will form the base to stand on, apply a board on the top section of the frame. This board must be checked thoroughly for any form of damages, and must also be resistant to rot and insects. Secure the board onto the frame using glue and screws.
Keep space for any additional equipment you might want to add on the boat, such as chairs. More importantly, keep a space for the end on which you’ll attach the engine.
Securing the Barrels
The barrels you placed out to cure, should be dried up by now. For this process, you would want to turn the deck of the boat upside down. Giving you enough space to work with. Place each barrel in their allocated spots, and securely attach each barrel to the deck.
Use two galvanized metal hanger straps with each barrel. Wrap the metal straps around the barrel and attach each end to the deck of the ship using screws and glue. Cut 42" of each strip to get that tight, secure fit.
Attach each end of the strip to either the 2×4 board or the 2×6 board. While drilling in, the screws must tighten the strap onto the surface of the barrel, making sure they don’t move in any way. One important thing to keep in mind, though, don’t end up puncturing the surface of the barrel, or else you’ll just have to start all over again.
Powering this little boat won't require a big expensive engine, rather two oars can do the trick. However, if you do opt to buy an engine, make sure it's a small 50cc outboard engine. As you don't want the weight of the engine, compromising the balance of your pontoon.
Getting into the Water
The boat is pretty light in weight; this means it'll be easy to transport from your garage to the dock. Once you're at the dock, you won't need any fancy equipment to get it into the water. You and three of your friends could lift it and get it into the water all by yourself.
Once in the water, make sure that the boat's balanced and keeping it straight. If the boat keeps wobbling, you might have to get it out of the water and make some adjustments. Use your judgment on this, as each boat will have different needs depending on who built it.
Lastly, Have Fun
Once you get the boat in the water, make sure it looks as comfortable as possible. Also, put in all the equipment you'll be needing, like fishing equipment, speakers, coolers, and lawn chairs.
Make sure all the passengers wear a life jacket at all times, and most importantly, don't forget to have fun.
Once you’re done, if you plan on keeping the pontoon at the dock, so that you don’t have to move it around. Then, we’d suggest you invest in the best pontoon boat cover on the market, making sure your creation isn’t destroyed due to nature's forces.