How to Make a Canoe Carrier

••• Photo by Robert Arserio

A canoe carrier can help in moving a canoe from your vehicle to the water's edge. Although commercial canoe carriers are available, you can make a cart very easily. Some can be made from wood or metal, but PVC pipe is a cheap and simple alternative. No special tools are needed. It can be glued if desired, or left unglued to be pulled apart for storage.

Decide on the type of wheels for your canoe carrier. Options include pneumatic, hollow plastic or hard rubber. You can buy wheels from hardware stores or online. Roleez is a popular brand. The size and type of wheels desired can depend on the terrain. Fat, hollow, plastic tires do better on sand than hard, rubber tires, but the opposite may be true on paved surfaces, such as a boat ramp. The wheels from a discarded children's riding toy, such as a "Big Wheel," are another viable option. The wide, low height of plastic tires works well on both sand and dirt.

Make the axle. The axle for the wheels can be a threaded rod or a solid rod threaded on the ends if you have a tap and die. If easy disassembly is desired, use wing nuts to secure the wheels. If long-term security is desired, use lock washers or lock nuts. The axle rod passes through a section of PVC pipe with a T-joint at each end (the top of the T-shape running along the axle, with the bottom of the Ts facing up).

Strengthen the chassis. A second length of PVC pipe runs parallel to the first, using two more T-joints attached to the first T-joints (The side of the second Ts attaches to the bottom of the first Ts so that the bottoms of the second Ts face each other.) This eliminates the need to glue the cart together.

Build the cradle. The cradle for the canoe is constructed of four sections of pipe, about 1 foot each, and two T-joints. These are assembled in two pairs of pipe-T-pipe, with the top of the T connecting the two pipes. A pool noodle slips right over the ½-inch PVC pipe and provides padding between the canoe and the pipes.

Adjust the height to fit your canoe. Measure two vertical lengths to the desired clearance. One comes off each T on the base of the carrier to the T on the cradle. The height must allow the V of the canoe's hull to fit between the wheels but clear the cross section of pipe that runs parallel to the axle. This varies between canoes, so cut these vertical lengths a little extra long to start with and then trim until you attain the desired height.

Secure your canoe to the carrier. The canoe sits between the cradle, but use a tie-down strap to keep it from shifting while moving. This can be routed around the vertical lengths and back over the top of the canoe.


  • PVC pipe is very inexpensive, so buy a little extra length and measure generously. This assembly can be glued with PVC cement if desired.


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Photo Credits

  • Photo by Robert Arserio