PVC Canoe Cart

I recently bought a canoe but found it difficult to move it around by myself. In this video, I describe a wheeled cart I built out of PVC. The cart is different from other carts I’ve seen online because it allows me to move the canoe around right-side-up or upside-down. This cart would work equally well with a canoe or kayak.

The cart is made from 1″ PVC. I bought a ten foot piece and used nearly all of it for the cart. I bought the wheels from Harbor Freight for $4/each. The wheels are attached to a 5/8″ threaded rod and held in place with lock nuts. There are a couple of washers to prevent the metal wheels from digging into the PVC. The foam padding is PVC pipe insulation and cost only a couple of dollars and I had plenty left over at the end.

The cart took an afternoon to design and build. It is quite strong and makes moving the canoe around very easy. I can even load and unload the canoe from the top of my car very easily by myself now.

Update 2/24/15:

Due to popular demand, you can download a supply list and diagram here!


18 thoughts on “PVC Canoe Cart”

  1. Hey how long is the axle once cut you said its two feet but cut a few inches but earlier in the video you mention the bars are 12 inches apart which is also a bit confusing because you don’t say if that’s the length of the pipe piece or if its 12 inches apart all together with fittings and all.

  2. I’m not a wiz at measurements. Can you please provide us with the exact lengths of each piece of PVC and threaded bar used in this project? Much appreciated! Thanks, Andrew

  3. Like your design. Do you have a parts lis.. Also interested in what supply source used for threaded wheel axle.

    I have an inflatable 4 1/2 ft X 12 1/2 ft Sea Eagle that it may be simple to modify your design so I can make a launch dolly for my fishing rigg.

    Let me know soonest,
    Thanks Bob

  4. Yes, also looking for a parts list and step by step instructions to avoid costly mistakes. Do you have any?


  5. I just uploaded a supply list and diagram (see link above). I bought the 5/8″ threaded rod at a hardware store. Most have a variety of threaded rods.

  6. good video. short simple and to the point. I like your version of the pvc cart with the extra side wings for upside down carry. Thank you.

  7. My wife and I are in our 70’s and have been struggling a bit dragging or carrying our two ocean kayaks to the ocean which is about 400 yards away and across A1A in Florida.
    While summering in our Philadelphia home, I just built 2 carts, using your parts list and watching your video. I made few changes to your design, although I used a 1/2″ threaded pipe for the axles. I had trouble with the PVC pipe insulation at first; it was hard to push onto the PVC pipe without the self-adhering seam from coming apart. I solved it by using liquid dishwasher fluid and water to lubricate the pipe and the inside of the insulation tubes. Thanks for the design.

  8. That’s weird. Try a plumbing supply store. They cater to professional plumbers but you can find them in most cities.

  9. Thanks for your guide! I just put this together (dry fit so far, not glued), and I can’t figure out how to keep the wheels from just rolling up into the canoe, even bungeed, in the upside down position. Just can’t seem to keep the vertical supports perpendicular. Could you tell me what the canoe is actually resting on?

    It seems like gluing the handle will help when starting, but I can’t see how, once I lift up the other end, the whole thing will balance.

    I should also mention I have a very heavy Smokercraft aluminum canoe… Figured I would take my chances for a possibility of getting some help with the car-topping!

  10. A few other people have reported this same problem of the wheels rolling up into the canoe. I’ve never experienced this so I’m not sure exactly what’s causing it. My suggestions are 1) use a bungee cord and make sure it is nice and tight, 2) try moving the cart in relation to the canoe to find a better balancing point, or 3) point the handle into the canoe and let the cart tip a little until the handle wedges against the canoe and acts as a third contact point. I think #3 is is the most likely to work. You might have to adjust the length of the handle to find the right length but I think it will prevent the cart from rolling completely over.

  11. Thanks so much—I’ll try 3. I think the tail end wouldn’t be high enough off the ground to roll at a better balance point. It will take a pretty long handle to reach the bottom of my canoe!

    Out of curiosity, are the top supports touching anything when you use it? I was thinking about trying to just make those taller since I really only want to move the canoe upside down.

  12. The top supports don’t touch anything on my canoe when I have the canoe on upside down. The canoe rests only on the “wings.”

  13. This cart, while simple to build, was too tall to function well. Whether the canoe bottom was resting and strapped on the top wings, or the gunnel was resting and strapped on the side wings, the canoe cart would flop forward or backward when in use. I added a 4 inch wide board on the side wings and the cart still fell over when in use. I finally made it half as tall, eliminated the side wings altogether, and made the top wings 24 inches tip to tip. I padded the wings with a piece of foam noodle. The cart seems to be working.

  14. Made this canoe cart today for our 17′ long, 34″ wide canoe. Spent over $50 on parts and we are having the same problem with the wheels spinning out from under the canoe every time we try to put the canoe on it. Very disappointing. 🙁

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