Wooden boat construction is a multi-step process. Beginning with the design phase, in which wooden boat plans are drawn up, and traveling through the stages of construction and finishing, this process can take weeks, months, or years depending on the size and type of the boat, the methods used, and the skill of the builder. When the process is complete, the product is a thing of beauty that can provide extreme satisfaction to the builder.
The design phase of wooden boat construction involves careful decision-making to determine what kind of boat to build, and its size. By drafting wooden boat plans during this stage, the boat builder knows exactly which materials are needed and has a sort of schematic blueprint to use during the actual construction phase. In addition, the design phase gives the boat builder the opportunity to spot flaws in the design before investing time and money in the wooden boat construction process. In many cases, these boat plans are hand-drawn designs of the boat builder’s own creation, although there are kits available with wooden boat instructions and building materials for amateur boat builders.
Once the plans for wooden boat construction are made, the next step is assembling the materials. Depending on the design and material specifications, this process can sometimes be difficult, especially if the design calls for rare wood types or specially treated hardware. It is generally considered good form to acquire all boat building materials before the construction process begins to ensure that one is not left with an unfinished project or forced to compromise the design of the boat to use a different building material.
The first part of the actual wooden boat construction process is building the hull. The wood is formed mechanically or using steam to soften and bend the wood to create a structure that resembles a rib cage. This structure forms the skeleton of the boat’s hull, and the other materials are attached to this framework.
In some cases, the hull of the boat is made using a lamination process. In this method of wooden boat construction, layers of wood are joined together with epoxy to form a rough hull. Using tools to form and smooth the layers, the hull is shaped to the proper dimensions. Wooden boats built using this method do not require the framework construction of traditional wooden boat hulls.
Once the hull is formed, it is sanded and finished with lacquers and waterproofing agents. The hardware and interior materials of the boat are then installed. Once these processes are accomplished, the wooden boat is ready for the water.