Boat Stands

How-to Article Brad Mahs



Some ideas on how to build your own custom boats stands...






I know what you're thinking… "C'mon, an article on making a boat stand?!? How lame!"


But don't be so quick to trivialize this important piece of hardware! After all, it is a necessary piece of equipment that, if not designed and constructed properly, could cause damage to your boat, transport vehicle, or worse – spectators!


A good boat stand should exhibit the following features:

  • Sturdy construction! No scrimping here. A weak stand will not save you anything, and may cost you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Proper hull support. Even support, with no pressure points, will eliminate undo stress on the hull. Image
  • Ease of transport. Designing a stand that's not too big to carry and transport, yet allows you to be comfortable while working on the boat is key. Some type of built-in handles, or straps will make carrying large hulls an easy task.
  • Provide proper protection. Many race organizations require a prop guard be built into a stand. This is simply a good "common sense" safety feature for everyone to implement. Also, a safety strap to keep the hull secured to the stand is a must. A loose hull bouncing around inside a vehicle can become a deadly weapon if you need to make a panic stop!
  • Good looks. OK, ok, so this ain't a requirement. But hey, you spend a lot of money making your boat look good, why put it on a crummy lookin' stand?





The most widely used material for the frame itself is PVC plumbing pipe. Along with various elbows, teesImage and end-caps, this material is readily available, cuts easily and connects with adhesives, screws or rivets. It's also strong for its light weight. Stick with PVC that is 1" dia. minimum. The smaller stuff will flex and bend too much. Obviously, larger hulls will require larger diameter pipe. Regular PVC cement works great, and is a fast way to construct a stand in minutes.


Likewise, copper plumbing pipe and fittings also work well, but will yield a heavier final product.


Wooden boat stands are also popular, but they typically require a bit more skill to create one that cradles the hull correctly. They usually employ cross pieces (perpendicular to the keel line) that are cut to conform to the hull bottom. Plywood is the material of choice, and some stands include field boxes built in! When stained and finished, these can be true works of art.


Regardless of frame material, some type of padding should be utilized to protect the hull. Foam pipe wraImagep insulation works well for all the frame types. Flat foam or rubber weather-stripping also works well on wooden cradles. Glue, zip-tie wraps and tape can all be used to secure the padding, if needed.


Carrying straps can be riveted or screwed directly to the stand, or wrapped around pipes and bolted, riveted or sewn to itself. 1" wide nylon web works well for this.


A securing strap around the boat and stand are a must. Shock cords, bungee straps, Velcro straps, rope or web belts all make good securing devices. Avoid using cotton rope or webbing, as they will absorb water and stretch, rot and break faster than nylon. Padding the straps with more pipe insulation or putting a towel under the straps will help prevent wear marks on the hull.


If you really want to go top-shelf, a boat cover will provide the ultimate in protection for your boat's finish.





A simple "bunk" style pipe stand for a mono or deep vee should support at least approximately 1/2 of the boat's length. The bunks should be positioned under, or just outside of the hull strakes (if the hull has them). This lends proper support to the strongest area of the hull bottom, while preventing the hull from rolling or tilting on the stand during starting.


ImageMost catamaran stands utilize bunks, which run inside the sponsons, supporting the tunnel - similar to a mono hull stand, only narrower.



Hydros and riggers typically share a similar style of stand; bunks inside the front sponsons and either narrower bunks or a padded crosspiece to support the bottom at the rear of the boat.










For monos and cats, a neat variation is to build a wide bunk style stand, and attach a fabric web across Imagethe bunks, to form a "hammock" style cradle for the hull. This lends even support with absolutely no pressure points on the hull! Again, avoid using cotton materials for the web, since it is prone to rot and break down.

Stand height is a personal preference, but should be designed to allow plenty of clearance for the prop, rudder, skegs, turn fins, etc. to clear the ground. If you are setting the rig down in taller grass, obviously you'll want to design a stand tall enough so you aren't cutting grass with the prop!


ImageSome folks like a taller stand to make preparation and starting easier – just make sure the stand is sturdy enough to handle the stress of engine starting procedures!


Also, be aware of the center of gravity; if you make a really tall stand, you'll need wider support legs to keep the whole works from tipping over in the wind, or getting knocked over by a slight bump. Instead of a tall one -piece unit, consider making a short transport stand that will attach to a taller work stand.


Because of its easy working nature, you can develop some pretty creative, elaborate designs using PVC. How about adding wheels to allow easy rolling? Or incorporate plastic storage bins under the stand to make transporting your radio and support gear easier!


I'm considering a design for a pivoting PVC stand that doubles as a one-man launcher. Hopefully, the stand could be set in the water with the boat on it, start the boat, then have the stand pivot down into the water with one hand while holding the radio with the other! We'll see how it works out.


Use your imagination and ingenuity. Check out the following photos for some nifty ideas.


Here are a few pictures of a unique system Rudy Hilado uses. He designs all his stands with the same "footprint", so that various boats can plug into storage frames, or transport frames as needed.





Some stands are true works of art! Check out Len's stand for his Sprint cat…complete with built-in bow stops and prop guard.




Here's Don Betz's set-up for running boats on a river, from the chase boat! Very creative use of PVC!








Log in to comment

User Login


You are not logged in.

© 2017 All Rights Reserved.