What Are the Best Tips for Wooden Boat Restoration?

C. Daw

Many people say that the best day of a boat owner’s life is the day that they bought the boat, and then the day that they sell it. The reason for this is because of the amount of time that is required to maintain it. This is not the case when completing a wooden boat restoration project. First of all, a wooden boat is easily maintained and will still provide effective transportation for a fishing trip, or a scenic cruise down the river or across the lake or pond. Secondly, when a person restores a boat, they have pride in it because of the efforts that they have put into it, making them become attached to it on an emotional level. Many people think of a wooden boat restoration project as being too difficult to attempt, but the process is not as difficult as one might think.

Some marinas allow for boat work on site.
Some marinas allow for boat work on site.

Before beginning a wooden boat restoration project, locate and area that provides enough space to work. A large backyard or garage can be the perfect solution to this common dilemma, but there are also some marinas that will allow people to work on one at the dock, or in a boathouse. If this is the first boat being restored, starting with a smaller version will be better because it will allow the person to practice before attempting a larger boat. Also, be prepared for a long project because some wooden boat restorations, depending on needed repairs, can take years to complete.

Wood boats will last longer if kept clean and free of fungus and mold.
Wood boats will last longer if kept clean and free of fungus and mold.

The most difficult part of wooden boat restoration will be to replace the planks that have rotted or been damaged. Determining which planks are still good and which ones need to be tossed can be difficult, but there is a little tip to help. Use an ice pick and rubber mallet to test each plank for strength. Try to hammer the ice pick into the plank using the mallet; if the wood is healthy and strong the ice pick should not be able to penetrate through the wood. This easy step can help determine which planks to keep and which ones need to be replaced.

Some people, instead of trying to accomplish a wooden boat restoration project, would prefer to build one from scratch. There are many wooden boat plans that come with complete instructions to help anyone build their own boat. Whether a person is building a boat or restoring one, be sure to coat the finished product with an appropriate waterproofing sealant. There are many different types of sealants, from caulking to stains and various types of epoxy that are available for purchase, so be sure to obtain the correct type for the specific project.

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