How to Build a DIY Kayak Cart
Your kayak is your ticket to the great outdoors. Whether bird-watching, exercising, or grabbing some much-needed solitary time, your kayak lets you do it all.
Yet hauling your kayak across the land to water or portaging it is difficult, especially given the weight of the kayak and its size. You either need to carry on a shoulder, as a team, or drag it. A far better option that will save your back and preserve your kayak is to roll it on a cart. Fortunately, you can build your own DIY kayak cart easily and very inexpensively.
Basics of a DIY Kayak Cart
Kayak carts can cost over $100. For half that price, you can build your own DIY kayak cart out of just a few pieces of plastic tubing and wheels available at most home centers. Features include:
- Carries standard kayaks in the 10- to 13-foot range, weighing between 45 and 70 pounds.
- ABS plastic tube construction for a stronger structure than PVC.
- Yoke to assist with moving the cart when it is empty.
- Removable yoke to help with disassembling the cart for storage in a vehicle or home.
- Soft foam insulation to prevent damage to the bottom of the kayak.
Using ABS as a Building Material For a Kayak
ABS is a black plumbing pipe used for drainage and waste systems. Home energy experts find that ABS is stronger than PVC in most cases, highly durable and versatile, available in a wide range of shapes, and simple to work with. ABS pipe bonds with cement applied to both sides of the joint.
After cutting the ABS, deburr it with sandpaper. Clean off the ends. Add ABS cement to both the pipe and fitting, then quickly fit them together. Hold the assembly for about 15 seconds to ensure a tight bond.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Electric miter saw or manual miter saw and box
- Cordless drill
- Set of drill bits
- Tape measure
- 2 2-inch by 8-foot ABS pipes
- 2 2-inch ABS spigot cleanout adapter with plug
- 2 2-inch ABS DWV hub x hub coupling
- 4 2-inch by 2-inch by 1-1/2-inch ABS DWV sanitary hub tee
- 1 6-foot by 3/4-inch foam pipe insulation
- 1 16d galvanized nail, 3 1/2-inch
- ABS pipe cement
- 2 6 inch by 1-1/2-inch universal plastic wheel
- 2 3-inch by 1/2-inch diameter bolts with lock washers and nuts
- 2 stainless-steel nylon lock nut
Measure Your Kayak's Hull
Measure the width of your kayak's hull. The double foam rests on the kayak rack should touch the bottom of the hull of the kayak. If the foam rests are too close to the keel, the kayak will not be stable on the cart, especially during turns. If the foam rests are too far apart, they will slide up the hull on either side, toward the freeboard section: the kayak will not be properly supported.
Cut the ABS Plastic Parts
First measure with the tape measure. Using the electric miter saw or the manual miter saw and miter box, cut the ABS plastic according to this cut list:
- (1) 32-inch piece (handle)
- (4) 2-inch pieces (ends of the axle)
- (9) 10-inch sections for the center of the axle
Build the Wheel Part of the Axle
Drill a 5/8-inch hole in each of the cleanout adapter plugs. Insert the 3-inch by 1/2-inch diameter bolts with the head of the bolt on the threaded side of the cleanout adapter. Insert a lock washer, then the nut on the threaded end of each of the bolts.
Dry-Fit the Axle
The axle is composed of nine ABS parts. The 10-inch (or the length needed for your kayak) section represents the middle of the axle. Beginning at that center section and moving rightward, the parts are composed in this order:
- (1) 10-inch length of ABS
- (1) 2-inch by 2-inch by 1-1/2-inch ABS DWV sanitary hub tee
- (1) 2-inch section of 2-inch ABS pipe cut off of the larger 10-foot piece
- (1) 2-inch ABS DWV hub x hub coupling
- (1) 2-inch ABS spigot cleanout adapter (no plug for now)
The parts of the left side of the center progress in the same order. When you are satisfied with the dry-fit axle, glue all pieces together.
Make sure that the two sanitary hub tees are both pointing in the same direction.
Add the Vertical Supports
Add two 10-inch sections of ABS pipe to the axle's sanitary tees. Place two more sanitary tees facing inward, with another 10-inch ABS pipe between the two as a stringer. The shape should now be a rectangle.
Finish the Kayak Supports
Add two more 2-inch pieces on top of the sanitary tees. These each should be placed at a 90-degree angle to the other four tees previously installed. Place the remaining four 10-inch sections into the four open spaces on the tees. Glue all into place.
Add the Foam Insulation
Cut off four 10-inch sections of pipe insulation with scissors. Separate the score marks on the foam. Add the foam to the supports with zip-ties.
Sand the Yoke End
To make it easier to attach and detach the yoke from the cart, thoroughly sand down the end of the yoke.
Drill the Hole For the Yoke
With the yoke in place, use the cordless drill to drill a 1/8-inch hole from the top, all the way through to the other side. Insert the 16d galvanized nail as a linchpin.
Make certain that the hole runs vertically. Otherwise, the linchpin will fall out when you move the kayak cart.
Add the Wheel Assembly
First apply glue, then screw into place each of the two wheel assemblies (the plugs into the cleanout adaptors).
Add the Wheels
Add the wheels to the bolts on the axle. Do this by first placing a washer, then the wheel, then a locking nylon lock-nut.
Tips For Building a DIY Kayak Cart
- It is highly recommended that you use an electric or manual miter saw for creating perfectly square cuts.
- The kayak does not self-attach to the kayak cart. Use a heavy-duty ratchet tie-down strap to keep the kayak safely secure on the cart.
- Practice working with ABS pipe on scrap pieces before building the DIY kayak cart.