How to Make Wooden Boats

by Contributor

Making a wooden boat can seem daunting. The process of wooden boat building has become much easier, however, due to a method called "stitch and glue." In this process, plywood pieces are stitched together with copper wire and the boat is firmly glued with a mixture of epoxy and sawdust. These boats are lighter and sturdier than fiberglass. They also can be built by almost anyone.

1. Choose plans for a boat large enough to accomplish all recreational goals but small enough to avoid paying for extra materials.

2. Place the marine plywood in a work area large enough to accommodate and remove a finished boat. Lay plans on the plywood and transfer markings. Lift the marked plywood onto sawhorses. Use the jigsaw to cut along the marked lines. When complete there will be pieces for the bottom, bow, sides and transom of the boat.

3. Drill 1/8" holes in all the edges of plywood except the top of the transom, sides and bow. The holes should be 1/2" from the edge of the plywood and separated by 2".

4. Cut the copper wire into 4" lengths with the wire cutters. Align one side piece along the bottom piece so the back of the side neatly lines up with the back of the bottom. Thread the copper wire through holes previously drilled in the side and bottom pieces of the boat. Use pliers to tightly twist the wires. Do the same for the other side of the boat. Attach the transom and the bow in a like manner. When complete, all the pieces will be formed into a boat stitched together with copper wire.

5. Mix one-fourth of the marine epoxy according to manufacturer's directions. Add the plywood dust to make a paste the consistency of peanut butter. Use the spatula to apply the paste to all interior corners where pieces of plywood are stitched together. The epoxy paste seam should be approximately 2" wide and 1/2" deep at the center.

6. Lay the 4" fiberglass cloth over each pasted seam. Mix an additional one fourth of the marine epoxy. Apply this marine epoxy to the fiberglass cloth with a paint brush until the cloth is thoroughly wet. Allow the seams and cloth to dry overnight. The boat will now be sturdy.

7. Turn over the boat on the sawhorses. Use the wire cutters to cut each piece of copper wire. Use the pliers to pull the wire from the boat. Mix the remainder of the marine epoxy. Use a paintbrush to apply the marine epoxy to the bottom and sides of the boat. Allow to dry overnight.

8. Sand the interior and exterior of the boat with sandpaper. Paint or varnish the boat. Launch the boat.

Items you will need

  • Boat plans
  • Marine plywood
  • Marine epoxy
  • Boat building sawdust
  • Spatula
  • Jigsaw
  • Cordless drill
  • 1/8" drill bit
  • 1 quart plastic bowls
  • 1 gallon plastic bowls
  • Copper wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint or varnish
  • Marking pen
  • Disposable paint brushes
  • 4" fiberglass cloth
  • Protective gloves
  • Eye protection

Tips

  • The boat plans chosen by the boat builder will include suggested amounts of epoxy, sawdust and fiberglass cloth.
  • Add accessories like oars or sails as required by the plans.

Warning

  • Always wear eye protection and protective gloves when working on boat projects.

Photo Credits

  • Tay Jnr/Digital Vision/Getty Images