I love pool noodles!
I designed this DIY Pool Noodle Float Raft using cut sections of pool noodles. This raft is easy and cheap to make plus you can customize it to your own design and color tastes. Kids can help too and plan out their own rafts so everyone in the family can have their own personally styled noodle raft.
You could buy new noodles and cut them up or upscale to use the parts old pool noodles that have sections without cracks or bite marks (however new noodles work best). As a pool owner, we have many pool noodles that get worn out with time and use. I’m not sure how pool noodles look appetizing to some kids, but we’ve had many visitors to our pool who have made bite marks on the pool noodles or even bitten out chunks. Bite size chunks of pool noodle are not fun to scoop out of the pool skimmer let me tell you!
I Love Pool Noodles
Do you love pool noodles? Like I said, I do. I’ll tell you why, it’s because they don’t need to be blown up and they fit every sized individual. They are popular because kids use them and adults use them too. In our backyard pool, we use pool noodles all the time because we swim a lot as a family plus we have several pool parties in the summer so we have frequent visitors at our home (we love to host). Pool noodles don’t get holes easily like other floaties do (unless someone bites them of course) so they tend to last longer for us than the air filled rafts and floaties. Tried and true, noodles tend to last the longest so I thought why not make a fun pool noodle raft.
The Supplies You Will Need to Make This Raft
To make this raft you will need about the following supplies:
- 6 Mega size pool noodles
- 100 pack 14 inch zip ties (you will have some leftover)
- 6 of the 24 inch zip ties (one for every two rows) OPTIONAL, this could be skipped or small zip ties if 2nd option for linking rows together is your choice (see below under 2nd option heading)
- nylon rope
- serrated knife
- tape measure
The First Step
The first step involves the cutting of the noodles into 4 inch segments. I also cut 12 one inch pieces of blue noodle and 12 one inch pieces of green noodle to add striped decorative ends to the raft. This step will take you about 20 minutes to complete. I cut enough for 11 rows of noodles each six noodle sections wide (so 66). For the raft there are thirteen rows, 11 rows of 4 inch noodle sections plus the decorative rows at the ends made up of the one inch sections.
You can make it as long or as short as desired, this is just how I made this particular one. Make up your own design using the colors and patterns you choose. I did have some leftover which prompted my son to make some fun glasses using zip ties and two of the one inch noodle pieces (see photo below).
Stringing the Noodle Rows Together
The next step involves stringing the rows of six noodle sections across together using 14 inch zip ties. Thread the zip tie tip down into the first noodle hole keeping the smooth side of zip tie towards the left side and the grippy side towards the right. Slip the tip of the zip tie through the bottom of the next noodle section from the bottom going up towards the top. Bring the ends of the zip tie together and zip it. Make sure to tighten the zip tie snug. Cut off the excess zip tie and push the clasp down into the noodle hole so it doesn’t stick out. Continue to string rows of six noodle sections together until you have 11 rows. This step took me about 45 minutes.
Next Step: Make the Striped Decorative Raft Ends
The next step involves taking the one inch pieces of noodle to make six stacks of alternating colors for the two end rows of the raft. Stack them every other color and zip tie them together as shown in the picture below. Making the striped end decorative rows took me about 5 minutes.
Attach End Rows of the Raft
Zip tie end rows to raft by slipping a 14 inch zip tie through closest end row one-inch noodle section through the next row with 4 inch noodle. Zip tie snugly and cut off excess zip tie.
Next String the Nylon Rope through the Raft
The next step involves stringing the nylon rope through the raft. The rope helps the noodle pieces stay together as a raft unit so keep the rope as one uncut piece. Lay out the rope along all sides of the raft to estimate the amount of rope required while leaving plenty of extra slack for tying a knot at the end. Be sure to leave extra rope slack sticking out where you started to thread it through so you can easily tie the rope in the end.
String the nylon rop down the first side of the raft starting at one corner. Lift up the end noodle section of each row to help you thread it through as you go down the raft lengthwise threading rope through the noodle sections. At the end of the raft, thread it through each of the 1 inch stacked noodle sections and then thread through the rows up the opposite side. Thread each ends of the rope through the end rope to meet in the middle. Threading the rope through took me about 20 minutes.
Tie the Knot
Once both ends of the rope are strung in and out of the sections on the end row to meet in the middle of the last row, tie a Fisherman’s knot in the rope. This involves crossing one end piece of rope over the other 7 times, threading it through at the top and then pushing knot down tightening it. Slip the knot into the noodle hole and then double knot it to secure it. Cut the rope leaving about an inch or so of the rope sticking out. To prevent the rope ends from unraveling, burn ends for 5-6 seconds each with a flame from a lighter. Blow out the flame. Wait about 1 minute for it to cool and then shape the ends of burnt rope with your fingers to compress. This step took about 5 minutes.
Line Up The Rows in Pairs and Fasten With Large Zip Ties
Next line up the rows and link every two rows in pairs together all down the raft with the large 24 inch zip ties so that they are linked as sections of two rows together (so one large 24″ zip tie for every two rows). The zip tie will go up through two noodle sections (through hole in one noodle section from each row) and down through the adjacent noodle sections (the zip tie will only be visible on the ends). The zip tie will be strung through four noodle sections so four of them (two from each row) are encased in the zip tie. I linked the rows near the center of each row (see pictures below).
Linking the rows in pairs just makes it more of a solid unit and less floppy. Plus, linking the rows with large zip ties keeps more of the zip tie clasps covered so they don’t pop out and poke people. One row will be left unlinked to another at one end of the raft.
Make sure the zip ties are snug so it doesn’t move and scratch people as they use the raft. Large zip tie connecting of the rows took me about 25 minutes.
This large zip tie step could be skipped, however, because the raft works just fine without this step or use my 2nd option listed below (scroll down to read) to make the raft even less floppy.
OR 2nd Option: To Make Raft Even Less Floppy-Add More Zip Ties
To make the raft even less floppy, simply add more zip ties. Basically you would zip tie the zip ties together linking the rows. Either link rows together by linking the zip ties in each row to the next row zip ties by stringing small zip ties through them all for each zip tie along the row (or just on the end noodle zip ties). If you choose to do this, I would skip using the larger zip ties pictured above. This will make the raft more of a cohesive unit so it will stay together better and be less floppy.
I like this design because the scratchy clasp of the zip tie is nestled down in between the pool noodle sections so we find we don’t get scratched by them when we use the float.
All Photos by Julie Hoag.
Trouble Shooting Solution For A Problem You Might Encounter
If you end up with too much rope slack, simply tie a knot in the rope to use up the rope slack. This will tighten rows together.
Tighten zip ties if they slide, cut off extra, and tuck clasp into noodle hole.
The raft took me about two hours to complete so plan accordingly. This raft is about the length of a eight or nine year old child. Make yours as short or as long as you need; this craft is very versatile.
I hope you enjoy your raft! Customize it to your own colors and taste. Make patterns with colors or use different colored noodles to make the first letter for your child’s name. Check out my other DIY pool noodle craft to make a DIY Pool Noodle Float Ring . Have fun swimming with your new raft!!
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