While building your own boat may seem like an ambitious endeavor, it is actually within the realm of possibility even for amateur craftsmen. The amount of effort and knowledge required varies, of course, with the size and style of the boat. But generally speaking, there are many boat designs that do not require extensive specialized knowledge to build. A wide variety of amateur boat building plans can be found in books and on the internet. Here are a few tips concerning using such plans to build a boat:
Find Plans that Suit your Craft Skill Level
There are boat plans at a variety of skill levels. They range from the extremely basic to advanced. Some are plans for simple row boats and some for motor boats or large sailing vessels. Depending on your skill and the tools you have, some will be practical to build and others will not be. So search around until you find plans that fit your general skill and ability level.
You May Already Have some of the Materials
Sturdy and effective boats can be made out of materials such as plywood and ordinary dimensional lumber like 2 x 4s. Often these are both glued and screwed or nailed together. Many people already have some of these items – plywood, 2x4s, screws or nails, water resistant wood glue – sitting in the garage or attic. If not, they are usually fairly inexpensive to buy. Often the joints of a boat built from these materials are sealed with fiberglass. Though most people don’t have fiberglass sitting around, it is also not very expensive to buy, especially in the quantities needed for simple boat building.
Other materials used in simple boat building are ordinary exterior paint and interestingly, poly tarps, which can be used for the sails of a simple sail boat. There is a simple building method known as “stitch and glue” which uses copper wire to stitch joints together. These are also glued and fiber glassed for strength and water resistance. Many people have rolls of copper wire sitting around the garage. Make sure, however, that the copper wire you are using in a stitch and glue design is the right gauge and is recommended for boat building use.
Start out Basic and Work Your Way Up
If you are new to boat building, your best bet is to start out with a fairly simple design, even if you have a lot of experience with other types of woodworking. This will allow you to see all the steps involved in building a boat and to be sure that you can complete the project. You will get a big confidence boost from completing you first boat and actually using it on the water, even if it is only a small row boat.
Consider Sites that Also Sell Materials
Some boat building sites also sell materials and can save you time and money by providing the ones you need. This mainly applies to more advanced boat building, as the most basic designs use ordinary materials you can find at any hardware or lumber store. For more ambitious and mainstream projects, materials such as rigging, boat hardware, sheet metal, fiberglass, and long lasting water resistant wood finishes are often necessary. Combined plan/supplier sites can “hook you up” with everything you need to build a durable, professional style boat, and often for less than you would pay buying the materials elsewhere. As always, compare prices between various boat sites and ordinary purchase sources to make sure you are in fact getting the best deal possible.
If Possible, Read Reviews of Boats and Sites
You want if possible to read reviews by people who have built boats from the plans you are considering. You won’t always be able to do this, but if you can, that will give you more confidence in the quality of the plans. You also may be able to get valuable tips about a project from somebody who has already gone through the process.
You really have nothing to lose by trying out a homemade boat building plan. With a little bit of effort and focus you can easily build a boat that will be charming and perfectly adequate for use. And with a few more tools and a little added ambition, you can create professional and stunning boat that will impress your friends and that will put you out on the water in style. So go for it!