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Old 02-20-2015   #1
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
Poverty boating: diy wooden frames

Back in The Day, when poverty rafting was the only kind there was, you'd see sweet wooden frames.

I ain't never learned the fine art of wood frames. But I got a buddy with a 13' AIRE and a sudden need for a rowing frame for a summer salmon float.

Any tips on building a raft rowing frame for cheap? Yes, NRS/speedrail fittings are flexible and fairly inexpensive.

but I'm lookin for dirtbag scrap heap cheap.

Love to see pix, and parts for say, oar towers.

thanks fellow dirtbags!

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Old 02-20-2015   #2
Searching for water....., Nevada
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 168
Steel Oarlock Stands at

for towers......

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Old 02-20-2015   #3
Redmond, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1973
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,031
May I suggest balsa?
With cork bark?


I had a poverty wood frame circa 1981.

I'd recommend against.
My frame held up but I still tried to kill myself with that rig.

Wood splinters and that would stab you know what.
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Old 02-20-2015   #4
Evereywhere, State of Bliss
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 169
The memories!

Main Salmon July 12th 2011
My buddy's Hyside and wood frame. Loved learning how to row in that boat. Thanks Dom.
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Old 02-20-2015   #5
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
2 X 6 lumber; it's gotta be straight.
2 sides, as many cross bars as you need.
Stainless bolts; countersink them. 2 bolts to a join, corners.
Straps and/or chains and/or good old rope to hang stuff from and tie it down.
Oar towers; whatever floats your boat.

Easy to repair on the river, all but bullet proof, about $100 to build a very serviceable frame.

People will laugh, but whatever...........
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Old 02-20-2015   #6
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1965
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 175
Think I have some oar towers with a flat base that came off my first DIY frame. Will trade for beer
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Old 02-20-2015   #7
Daryl's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 98
Gonna build 2 large wooden row frames for my 18' bucket boats. These will be for running mild runs to get other families and friends on the water with us on some overnights this year. I already have the steel framed gear pig and will be the chuck wagon for the group.

Planning on using 2 x 6 treated and using those listed deck mount NRS oar stands. Bolt it all together with stainless round head bolts and counter sinking the nuts and grinding off any excess metal.

Might do a EMT conduit foot bar and other drops as needed. Will provide pictures as things progress. Wouldn't consider a woody option on big water or narrow canyons where a move is make or break ( especially for an 18' aqua bus) but for ez float purposes it should be fine. Should be a hoot to make, might even white trash me a canopy using 1/2" conduit as well.

Considered doing the whole thing with 1-1/2" schedule 80 battleship grey PVC electrical conduit as well. Not sure how much unwanted flex I'd get with 10"6" or 11' oars using normal oar towers.

Beware the econo-boater with a loaded shop...
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Old 02-20-2015   #8
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
I would stay away from the pressure treated and instead give it a coat or two of exterior latex paint. The pressure treating will protect from rot but does nothing to keep the wood from splitting, checking or absorbing water. Plus it adds considerable weight. Splinters from pressure treated wood will fester and easily become infected, not what I want on a remote trip.

I would consider using T-nuts and pan head cap screws instead of the countersunk bolts. Easier to install and you don't need to cut them. Check out the modular chain link fencing stuff at Lowes or Home Depot. There are bolt on Tees and Elbows that could be used to fashion a foot rest. (I made a bolt on casting platform for my cataraft)

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Old 02-20-2015   #9
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
Here is an old post with some wood frames...

Wood Expedition frame
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Old 02-20-2015   #10
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
Probably a good idea to check the crown on the lumber. Seems like a downward crown could cause the frame to taco much more easily.

I also wonder if some bracing could help - maybe 18" on a side triangles of 3/4" marine plywood on the corners screwed into the 2x6 lumber with weatherproof deck screws?

Don't forget the possibility of picking one up from an outfitter - I've found myself eyeing used sale woody frames at outfitters yards. If it gets you on the river, then do it and forget the naysayers.

Good luck with the frame!


Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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