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How to Build a Boat Roller Ramp? – DIY Wooden Boat Ramp

Fact checked by William Hart

how to build a boat roller ramp

Are you thinking about storing your boat close to the water in the upcoming off-season? Roller ramps might be the perfect solution for you.

They allow operators to keep their vessels right on the waterfront, putting an end to the troubles of towing the boat, paying for a parking spot, and waiting in line. The best part is you can construct one by yourself for less than $500.

How to build a boat roller ramp? You begin by choosing a ramp plan that suits your watercraft. Then, buy wood and a building kit and follow the plan’s instructions. Below is a step-by-step guide.

Table of Contents

Step-by-Step to Build a Boat Roller Ramp

What to prepare

To build a boat ramp with rollers, you will need a suitable plan based on your watercraft’s weight. So, browse the web for homemade boat ramp ideas, then purchase a DIY boat ramp kit. It shall contain the materials you need to carry out the plan, such as wood, rollers, a winch post, and strap.

Besides, prepare the following tools:

  • Hand saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Wrench

Step 1. Choose a plan and prepare the materials

Many online websites sell premade DIY boat roller ramp kits with an assembly guide. The kits might or might not include wood and tools, but you can always purchase them in a Home Depot.

A kit for a 2,500-lbs vessel, for example, should include four pairs of wheels, three to four pairs of double rollers, one rubber keel roller, one winch post, and one roll of strap. If the design you choose has guide posts, the kit will come with two PVC posts and caps.

To select suitable boat roller ramp plans, you need to find information about the boat’s weight in the capacity plate near the captain’s seat or the owner’s manual. Then, measure the boat’s width and length. The plan you choose must be sturdy enough to support your watercraft’s weight and size.

If you intend to carry the ramp home after each use, make sure its size fits your towing vehicle. Note that many websites offer portable boat ramp kits that can fold up in half for easy towing.

Once you have the plan, follow the measurements in its guide to purchase the correct wood dimensions, fastening materials, and tools.

Step 2. Cut the wood


The assembly guide should show precise wood dimensions for each part of your homemade boat roller ramp. A small boat ramp design can have a length of 192 inches and a width of 24 inches or more.

You need to measure and cut the wood accordingly. Then, ask a friend to hold the frame while you screw the lumber pieces together to pre-assemble the ramp. The pre-construction should reveal any inaccuracy and allow you to make necessary adjustments.

Step 3. Secure the joints


Once you are happy with how your DIY boat trailer rollers turn out, mark the drilling locations, drill holes, and install screws inside corners to secure the joints.

Step 4. Install the rollers and keel roller

When you launch your boat on the ramp, the keel roller acts as a guide for your boat to balance itself. You will mount it in the center of the first horizontal line that submerges in the water using two back plates and four bolts.

Then, move to install the rollers on two sides of the ramp. You should measure and mark the locations before drilling to space them evenly. On a small ramp, the distance between two rollers can be 32 inches.

Similarly, flip the ramp frame and install the wheels.

Step 5. Install the winch post


The boat ramp winch system will have to pull the entire weight of your vessel, including the gear, engine, and fuel, so make sure it is secured and sturdy.

You should place the winch post near the top of the diagonal lumber piece and screw it in place to see whether it sits firmly. Once the position is confirmed, secure it with bolts and nuts and add the strap roll.

Step 6. Mount the guide posts

Idling your boat onto the ramp can be challenging, since you can’t see the submerged part of it. So, don’t overlook this last installation—the PVC boat ramp guide posts. You will:

  • Measure 7 inches from the rear of your ramp and mount two base plates, one on each side. They will create a base for your guide posts and prevent them from slipping down.
  • Mount one leg holder on top of each base plate
  • Place the PVC pipes in the leg holders and tighten them
  • Close the pipes with PVC caps to prevent water and dust from penetrating

If you wish to install an additional bumper, go ahead and secure it with screws.

Step 7. Launch and test the ramp


Now, find a shallow water bank to launch your ramp. When the ramp is secured, load your boat on it following these steps:

  • Idle your boat onto the ramp
  • Turn off the engine, step on the ramp, and clip the bow eye to the winch strap to retrieve the boat
  • Secure the boat with safety chains if necessary
Note: Steep roller ramps might require two people to load a boat on them—one standing in the center and keeping the boat idle so it won’t slip back into the water, and one operating the winch post.

If you build a gravel boat ramp, consider placing a gravel-stabilizing grid on the ramp’s surface to make it slip-resistant.



What angle are most boat ramps?

The ideal angle for most boat ramps is between 7° and 8.5°. This amount is perfect for boats to stay on the trailer while being retrieved. A steeper slope might put vessels in backward motions and place a lot of pressure on the winch post and strap.

What is the slope of a boat ramp?

The term slope indicates the steepness and angle of a ramp when launched in the water. It plays a critical role in the effectiveness of a roller ramp.

If the slope is insufficient, towing vehicles might touch the water when pulling the boat onto shore. If the slope is too steep, the watercraft might slip back into the water.

When launching a portable roller ramp, you need to pay attention to the steepness of the bank. If the ramp’s angle seems to be too large, move to another location. Don’t attempt to load your boat on a roller ramp more than eight and a half degrees steep!

How thick should a boat ramp be?

The thickness (or width) of private ramps depends on the craft of the owner’s vessel. Wider ramps give boaters more confidence when loading their vehicles, so don’t hesitate to increase your ramp’s width if possible. Usually, boat ramp ideas should not go lower than 2.6 m or 8’6’’.

Standard public ramps, on the other hand, are usually 4.5m (or 15ft) wide.


That’s how to build a boat roller ramp! With one morning and a basic ramp kit, you can create a functional loading station by measuring and securing wood pieces, rollers, and other components. The homemade ramp won’t cost much, but it will protect your vessel from scratches and sand abrasion.

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