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DIY: Build Your Timber Boat from Scratch

The only natural material for building boats is wood. There are various designs in the art of wooden boat building. The techniques for building wooden boats depends on the type of boat, the method and procedure for making day sailors are different from the one used for the construction of powerboats, cruising boats, or performance rows among several others.

Various types of trees produce varying qualities of timber. It is therefore important to understand the options before picking any kind of timber for construction of your boat. Since wood is known to retain moisture which encourages the growth of fungal spores and eventual decay, you need to protect the timber you will use to put your boat together with coatings and quality preservatives.


This type of wood is ideal for construction of a boat intended for use at sea. You don’t have to worry too much about protecting it with preservatives; the sea water will efficiently perform that task. However, fresh water will rot it away if it’s not adequately protected. So if you intend to sail it on fresh water, apply preservative and coating to the timber. If you can get sea water, wash the wood in it.


Hardwoods take long growth time, slowly tightening their grains. They are therefore known for their strength and length. Owing to these qualities, they are the most commonly used type of timber in wooden boat building.

Teak and Iroko

They don’t wear out easily because they contain silica. Moreover, they are not affected by rot and decay. These characteristics entice boat makers into including them in most of their boat plans.


They are mainly used for the construction of spars, masts, oars, rubbing stakes and planked hulls. This is because their grain is long and straight. It is also more widely spaced since they have a faster growth than that of hardwood.

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Simple Steps to Follow

  • One of the most important things to remember before beginning to build a timber boat is that the number of ribs determines the length of the boat.
  • Therefore, the more ribs your boat has, the longer it is. The less the ribs you fit to it, the shorter it will be.
  • To get the ribs, first steam straight spruce stock. Then bend and laminate them.
  • Place them in a jig and pull them so that they take the shape of the boat-making mould. Finally, leave them to dry.
  • After they are dry, remove the ribs and put epoxy between the ribs, then wrap everything in plastic. This process prevents it from sticking.
  • To enable the setting of the epoxy, put the ribs back in the mould and hold them tight with clamps.
  • Screw the ribs to the bottom-board and fit a stretcher assembly inside the boat as well as below the boat. This is done by clamping and then screwing to keep the ribs in place.
  • Remember, this is temporary since you’ll not need the stretcher after the strips are put in place.
  • Attach a laminated stem to every side of the boat and fit the first strip and keep fitting more until the hull is completely planked.
  • When the boat is planked, scrape and sand it until you are satisfied that the job is properly done. Then fill the screw holds and sand more.
  • Dry-fit a fibreglass cloth to one side of the boat and apply epoxy from the middle towards the ends. Perform the same procedure on the other side.
  • Fit the end of the boats with the cloth after cutting it.
  • The fibreglass cloth is now stuck to the hull on your boat’s exterior. When dry, repeat the scraping and sanding procedure.
  • Then apply another two coats of epoxy, filling the fibreglass cloth weaves.
  • Since you are now done with the exterior of your boat, it’s time to do some sanding on the interior.
  • Fit the seats and seat risers when sufficient sanding is done. Then remove them and apply epoxy. This time you can leave out fibreglass cloth.
  • Apply three coats of spar varnish. Remember to ensure that the epoxy has cured well. Additionally, ensure that there is no dust.