Boat Building

The Ultimate Challenge


boat building

Boat building can seem like the ultimate challenge for a woodworker. There is an incredible amount of planning needed, as well as significant carpentry skills. Let’s face it – if you do it wrong, the boat might sink as soon as you put it in water! There are several "boat" basics that you should keep in mind before you undertake what will likely be one of your most challenging projects.

Boat Plans

Creating plans for a boat from scratch is probably beyond the skills of most amateur boat builders. This process is called lofting. While this stage is best left to the professionals, knowing how to read those plans is one of the most basic boat building skills.

Which Wood Is Right for Your Boat

Choosing the right wood for your boat is essential to how the boat will perform and whether or not it will last. For example, when choosing to build a boat for speed, light woods like pine are best. For boats that will be used in waters that are rough, you should use a heavier wood such as oak. If you are not quite sure which wood to use, then look at some plans for various styles of boats. You will find recommendations for the species of wood that will work best for the different styles.

An excellent source for instructions, DIY Boatbuilder offers Plans, Patterns, Kits, Books, DVD's and has a Free E-book to give away.

Building the Backbone

Building the backbone for a boat uses the largest and heaviest timbers that will be used in the boat. It’s the first step in any boat project. The backbone of a boat includes the stem, keel, and stern, too. Use long and heavy screws to hold these timbers together. That hardware will work much better than lighter, shorter nails or screws.

Framing Your Boat

This is the process of filling those gaps in the backbone of the boat. It helps your boat take shape and it is important that all pieces bend upward in the shape of the boat. You can carefully tie these pieces together to keep them bent at the right angle. You will eventually use several inch-wide pieces of wood to hold them all together. These smaller pieces of wood need to be the same weight and type of wood as the framing timbers you use. If they aren’t, it can weigh the frame down.

Planking Your Boat

The basic building is done after the boat is planked. These are the timbers that are attached directly to the boat frame. It helps keep your boat from filling in with water. The fewer timbers you can use, the lighter your boat will be. Screws are used to keep all the planks together. You will also need to use a sealing compound or calking to keep the water out. Before taking your boat out on its maiden voyage, let it sit in the water for an extended period. Seal up any leaks you find and then get ready to enjoy your new boat!

Fianally, I know from experience those last few sentences to be paramount. One of mine sank because I’d screwed through the hull and it wasn’t spotted. Fortunately I was in hospital when it happened and I wished I could have stayed there.

Please also check out further information below which may interest you, or check out this experienced boat builder who has instructional videos, books and plans.

Find Out About The 4 Basic Boat Building Techniques

Plans for building Boats

Kits for building Boats

Vessel Building Supplies Checklist

Return to Woodworking from Boat Building


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