What Are the Best Tips for Making a Wooden Boat?

Dan Cavallari

Before deciding to make a wooden boat, it is important to do a significant amount of research both on the types of wooden boats one can make and the methods available for making those boats. Canoes are perhaps the most common wooden boats people make at home or in a shop, but several other wooden boat models are available for construction. One will need to determine his or her budget for making a wooden boat before getting underway, and the first time boat maker may want to consider purchasing a kit or boat plans that will walk him or her through the process step by step.

The currach, which is a type of boat native to Ireland and western Scotland, uses a leather hull that is stretched over a wooden frame.
The currach, which is a type of boat native to Ireland and western Scotland, uses a leather hull that is stretched over a wooden frame.

The methods of making a wooden boat will vary significantly by the type of boat being made as well as the overall purpose of the vessel. Simple wooden boats are often made using a lapstrake technique, in which long planks known as strakes are cut in a certain way so they overlap each other during construction. The strakes can be glued together, or affixed in another manner to ensure solid construction. This method can be used to make very simple vessels as well as more complex ones, though a person will need specific tools and skills when making a wooden boat through this technique.

It may be wise to visit a boat making facility to learn more about the techniques available for building certain types of boats. Many boatbuilders use jigs or other guides during the building process, and he or she may be able to recommend a certain jig or plans for making one from scratch. A jig will help keep all the pieces of the boat in place during construction and will prevent damage to the boat while glue sets or while the wood itself cures into a certain position.

Research very carefully the different types of wood available for making a wooden boat. Not all woods are good for boat construction; some woods are more resistant to water damage than others, and some woods are even more buoyant than other woods. Visit a boatbuilder if possible for recommendations on the best woods for certain boats. If this is not possible, go to the library or research on the Internet the best materials and methods for making a wooden boat in the style you have chosen. Once the wood has been assembled and the jigs are ready for use, be sure to clear out an appropriately sized workspace that is well ventilated and clean.

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