How To Make A Kayak Launch in 10 EASY STEPS (DIY) | Kayaks Hub

Learn everything you need to know about “how to make a kayak launch from scratch”. Discover how to create a secure, sound, and easily accessible structure for your kayak usage, for the storage of your kayak, and to improve your shoreline. It is ideal for home use and for those who own kayak rental service companies.


It may sound like a big project to make a homemade kayak launch, but if you know what materials to use and how to lay it out, you can make a kayak launch which is long-lasting and practical.

This comprehensive guide will guide you through the whole process and provide you with a safe and efficient technique for launching and retrieving your kayak.

You should make your own kayak launch because it is cheaper than buying a ready-made kayak launch and can be designed to suit your dock and kayak.

Second, having built it yourself is very satisfying because you know that you have made something that is useful.

Selecting and Preparing Materials

How To Make A Kayak Launch in 10 EASY STEPS (DIY) | Kayaks Hub

When it comes to a project of this nature, it is essential to use pressure treated lumber. This type of wood is preserved to ensure that it does not degrade when exposed to water so your kayak launch will remain strong and firm for quite a long time. There will be a requirement for 2x4s, 1x4s and 4x4s.

In addition to the lumber, other materials that will be required include deck screws, stainless steel bolts, and a 4-inch PVC pipe for additional buoyancy if needed.

Important Note

It is important to note that most of these steps may take a long time to complete and therefore it is advisable to HAVE ALL THE MATERIALS READY before starting the project.

Safety Considerations

When you are handling power tools and moving around heavy material, safety is important to consider. Also, It is always important for you to ensure that protective gear worn by you, and you are following the guidelines for each tool provided by the manufacturer.

Also, the chemicals used in treated lumber should be handled carefully.

Designing Your Kayak Launch

How To Make A Kayak Launch in 10 EASY STEPS (DIY) | Kayaks Hub

In the process of cutting and assembling, it is important that you have a plan in mind. Your design should also show the size of your launch, where supports will be positioned as well as other optional accessories such as a cradle or runners. A good design will help in the construction phase to be well-organized and to go through a number of steps more easily.

Each dock is unique, and therefore may require customization in order to suit the particular location in question. Think about the elevation of the dock, the standard depth of water, and the room for your launching. It also allows you to make a kayak launch in a manner that it will integrate well with your current system.

One cannot overemphasize the importance of stability when planning for the launching of a kayak. It is recommended to plan for cross braces and supports at some interval so that your launch can effectively support the load and motion of a kayak. Consider how the weight can be split evenly to ensure that no part of the structure becomes compromised.

Sawing and Joining the Framework

It is also important to be very precise when cutting the framework for the kayak launch. First, you should mark all the cutting lines on the lumber to guide you when cutting. It will be wise to use a tape measure and a pencil to avoid making mistakes in the measurements.

This step is important because it will help in ascertaining the correct measurements that will enable the various pieces to fit in correctly.

Choose the right equipment for the work. When it comes to straight, clean cuts, it is recommended to use a circular saw or a miter saw.

Safety First!

Note that safety comes first, so when working with metal, make sure to wear safety glasses and gloves.

Also, ensure that there is no clutter around the workplace in case of any tripping incidents.

Once the measurements are made, you should then proceed to cut the lumber. Keep your hand steady and be sure to stay close to the lines that you have drawn on the paper.

I would recommended to measure twice before you make a cut to ensure that you do not waste material. And, proper cutting will help you achieve a stable and strong foundation to your kayak launch.

Securing the Launch to the Dock

I would like to point out that the dock to which the kayak launch is to be attached, should be checked for any signs of wear and tear. Check it for any signs of wear or tear. Remove any unwanted materials or dust from the surface that may hinder the installation of the chosen material.

Align the framework of your kayak launch with the dock. When fastening the framework to the dock, use deck screws or bolts. When it comes to hardware, I would recommend you to use materials that do not rust easily so that they do not deteriorate with time. And ensure that the framework is well aligned and strong before going on to the next step.

If further support is required by your kayak launch to improve the stability, then you should add the additional support. This might include entailing cross bracing or additional screws in strategic positions. You should also make sure that the launch does not move or sway when pressure is applied to it from different directions.

Adding Support for Stability

Cross-braces are essential in ensuring that the structure of the kayak launch is well supported. So, cut and trim the cross braces to the desired length so that they can fit between the main framework. Screw or bolt them into place to ensure that they are firmly anchored to the deck. These braces will help to distribute the weight properly and will not allow the structure to tilt or sway.

Check for any areas that may have been compromised and try to strengthen them. This could include placing more lumber or metal brackets where there is more load-bearing pressure. As you will see below, supporting these points will also help to prolong the life of your kayak launch and make it safer.

Creating the Kayak Cradle

To construct this kind of kayak cradle, you first require to measure and saw the cradle parts to the right dimensions. First, you need to take the measurements of your kayak to find the dimensions of the cradle, which is the width and length of the kayak. The cradle will be usually eight feet long and about two feet wide to allow the accommodation of most kayaks. Again saying, Use pressure treated lumber for construction as this will be more durable if your launch will be near water.

After obtaining the measurements, you should proceed to the cutting of the wood pieces for the cradle using a circular saw. Make sure that the cuts should be clean and perpendicular to the surface so that during assembly, there will not be any misalignment.

Here you will require several ribs to accommodate the kayak and space them in a manner along the length of the cradle. All the ribs should be cut at the same angle so that they form a cradle like structure as shown in the figure below.

Once the pieces have been cut to the required sizes, proceed to join the ribs to the base frame to complete the cradle. When securing the boards, use galvanized deck screws to avoid rust and it ensures that the deck will last for a long time.

Make sure that the ribs are placed in equal spaces and that they are well fixed. You may also add cross braces between the ribs to strengthen the cradle even more. These braces will add extra support and will stop the cradle from bending when it is supporting the weight of the kayak.

After the ribs and braces are put in, place the side rails on top of the ribs. These rails will assist in aligning the kayak into the cradle and also ensure that it stays in position. Check that all connections are well made and are secure before proceeding to the next step.

Adding Support for Stability

It is important to provide more support to your kayak launch in order to increase the stability and sturdiness. First, you should add more cross beams to the base of the cradle for further strengthening. Such braces should be fixed in a way that the weight of the kayak distributes evenly across the kayak to avoid wobbling.

It is advised to use heavy duty brackets or metal plates at joints to provide an extra reinforcement. These reinforcements will assist to strengthen the structure so that it will not collapse even when frequently used or when the weather is bad. Tighten all the screws and bolts to the right torque to prevent any shifting or movement.

To enhance the stability of your kayak, tie it firmly to the dock or any other available source. In order to firmly fasten the structure, one may use heavy duty anchor bolts or concrete footings. This will help in ensuring that the kayak launch does not move or tilt in a way that may cause it to tip over when you are getting in or out of the kayak.

If the launch is to be placed on a floating dock, extra flotation like PVC pipes or foam blocks may be anchored to the sides of the cradle. These devices will assist to maintain the launch level and stable in the events of rough water conditions.

Final Adjustments and Testing

After you have created the basic parts of your kayak launch, fine-tune it and run through a series of tests to determine the level of sturdiness and usability of the launch.

First use your hands to place your kayak on the launch to check for buoyancy and stability. If you feel any movement, then the height of the ribs and the supports need to be adjusted. Extra spacers can be provided or existing ones may be adjusted in order to provide the required stability. After you make a kayak launch, It is advisable to test the products on different types and sizes of kayaks in order to detect certain problems and make corrections.

You should also test your launch in other conditions like low water level or water currents. This will assist you to address all the environmental issues without compromising the stability of the launch. To ensure that one is testing the kayak in real-life conditions, one should repeatedly enter and exit the kayak and look for any problem areas.

Final touches and additional safety measures

As the base is set and refined, it is high time to add the final touches and the safety features to make a kayak launch not only practical but safe and sturdy as well.

To avoid slipperiness, place the non-slip surfaces in the sections where you will be walking. You can use non-slip tape or paint, which are specially developed for wet surfaces. It is especially crucial when considering the areas where you will be launching and extracting your kayak.

To increase safety, you can fix handrails or handles along the side of the launch. These will give extra stability when boarding or disembarking from the kayak, especially in turbulent water. Make sure you have properly bolted them down and constructed them of metals that do not rust or deteriorate from exposure to the elements.

Seal your wooden kayak launch to prevent damage from water, UV rays, and other environmental effects using a waterproof sealer or marine grade spar varnish. This will assist in prolonging the useful life of your launch, and also ensure that it looks neat. However, such a launch will require occasional upkeep, including the application of the protective material over the metal.

Tips For Using Your Kayak Launch

Some of the things that you will need to consider while you use a kayak launch are;

Routine Maintenance

It is recommended that you should inspect your kayak launch often in order to establish whether or not it is in good condition. Thus, make sure that all screws and bolts are tightened properly and replace any damaged parts as soon as possible. This means that through servicing your car more frequently, it will be easier to avoid small problems turning to big ones.

Safe Usage Practices

It is also important to check the surroundings where you intend to launch a kayak and ensure that there is no obstruction or any form of clutter on the water body. When getting into or out of the kayak, do it slowly and avoid applying sudden pressure to the structure. The safety of all users should be encouraged through practices like wearing life jackets and holding on to the handrails.

Seasonal Adjustments

This is especially important if you live in a region with a strong seasonal difference in the water, for example, during the summer and winter. For instance, when the winter sets in, it may be necessary to pull the launch out of water to avoid being damaged by ice. During summer, there should be checks for warping or swelling of the wood and then some adjustments made.

Wrapping Up

I have repeated so many thing for many times to give stress on it because these are important as repeated many times. So, now it is hard for you to make a kayak launch. Firstly, its not budgeted one and secondly it will fit your dock. You can alter it a bit to fulfill your needs and fit your dock as well. Happy landing!


  • David Graham

    Meet David Graham, an avid kayaker based in Florida, USA, who has been mastering the art of kayaking since 2013. As a former trainer with three years of experience, David has shaped the skills of numerous kayakers, sharing his passion for the sport. Living in a state known for its diverse waterways, his expertise and commitment to kayaking go beyond personal pursuits, making him a valuable contributor to the local kayaking community.

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