Most any day during the year, bass boats can be seen on freshwater lakes and rivers throughout the United States and Canada. Bass boats are shallow-draft, outboard-engine-driven watercraft with casting pedestals in the front of the boat. They are designed to fish for black bass but can be used for any freshwater fishing. Although bass boats are usually made from fiberglass or aluminum, a homebuilder can build a bass boat from marine plywood. Building a bass boat is a challenging project, but it can be accomplished by many home builders.
Choose bass boat plans. Perhaps the best method of wooden boat building for the do-it-yourself builder is called a stitch-and-glue. With this method, the owner cuts pieces of plywood, stitches them together with thin wire, glues the seams with epoxy paste and covers the seams with epoxied fiberglass cloth. Build a boat large enough for the water that is often fished but not so large that time and materials are wasted.
Use the plans and an ink pen to transfer the outline of the sides, bottom, transom and frame pieces to marine plywood. Cut the plywood pieces using a jigsaw. Drill 1/4-inch holes every 2 inches along the edge of each piece that will form a seam when the boat is complete.
Use thin wire pieces to stitch together the pieces in place. Start by stitching the bottom piece to the side pieces. Then stitch the transom and frame pieces in place. Mix one quart of epoxy glue according to manufacturer's directions. Add sawdust to the glue to make a paste the consistency of peanut butter. Apply the paste to the interior seams with a spatula to make a fillet about 2 inches wide and 1/4-inch deep at the center. Continue to mix and apply epoxy paste until all seams are complete. Allow to dry overnight.
Use wire cutters to cut the exposed wire on the exterior seams and frames of the boat. Use pliers to pull the wire free from the dried epoxy paste. Cut fiberglass cloth strips in 3-foot sections. Place the fiberglass strips on the interior seams of the boat. Mix one quart of epoxy glue and thoroughly wet the seems using a paintbrush. Turn the boat over and apply cut fiberglass cloth to the exterior seams in the same manner. Allow to dry overnight.
Sand the interior and exterior seams with sandpaper until smooth. Fill any imperfections with fairing compound. Allow the compound to dry and sand until smooth. Continue this process until the interior and exterior of the boat is completely smooth. Paint the interior and exterior of the boat.
Mount the seats, trolling motor, electronics, cleats and steering system according to manufacturer's directions. With a friend, carefully lift the front of the boat to the back of the boat trailer. Attach the trailer winch rope to the front cleat of the boat and carefully crank the boat onto the trailer. Use an engine stand to lift and mount the outboard motor. Connect the outboard motor to the steering system. Launch the boat and check for leaks. Cover any leaking areas with fiberglass cloth and epoxy.
- bass image by Liz Van Steenburgh from Fotolia.com