How to Build a Boat – Tips for Beginners


Building a boat is many a person’s dream. Such dreams can become reality, especially if you are realistic about it. If you plan on doing everything yourself and have never even held a tool in your hands, chances are that you might run into a lot of trouble.

If you are experienced with the DIY world, building a boat still requires some knowhow which can only be obtained through the act of building one.

In order not to run into many problems along the way and end up with a lot of unnecessary firewood, here are some things that you should do before getting your hands dirty.

Start Small – Dream Big

Everyone who wanted to build a boat wanted to build a big boat and have their friends aboard for a cruise. That, however, is a challenge even for experienced boat builders. Starting off small, with something like a dinghy should give you both the practice that you require and the patience that is paramount in boatbuilding. Perseverance is probably the most important skill that you will have to master, not counting woodwork, fiberglassing and filleting.

Perseverance is important because you will go through periods of extreme happiness and joy on your path to building a boat, small or large. Letting go of great ideas and a perfectly shaped dinghy or sailboat is another lesson that you should learn early on. Once you let those go, you will be able to work on your boatbuilding craft in peace, or relative peace, depending on the challenges that arise.

Once you’re done with a dinghy, you can move on to boats which have rigging, a story of its own. Having a good boatbuilding plan does not really help as some of those do not contain instructions for the newcomers, nor the encouragement.

Plans and Advice

As good of a woodworker you may be, you still need plans for building a boat. If you do not have your own plan, already, you should look for some online. There are plenty of sites which you can look to for guides and plans.

Great sites to start with are:

Atkin & Co are probably the best starting place for beginners. They offer very basic designs, but also very complicated ones. If you want to build a wooden boat, this is a great place to start.

B&B Yacht Designs is great if you already have some confidence and want to build something other than a dinghy. Sailboats and powerboats plans are available here, as well as building materials.

Purchasing the materials necessary to build your boat is also a big step. Luckily, the materials necessary for the boats are all detailed in the plans. You do not have to think whether you have too much or too little of anything.

If you are stuck at some point, seeking advice at a forum is a great solution. The WoodenBoat is a forum dedicated to boatbuilding. You can find all sorts of helpful information there.

Do not be discouraged. Building something takes time and effort and more than that, perseverance. Start small and move to a bigger challenge once you’ve assembled your first boat and took it for a ride. If you ever get discouraged, remember that the feeling of failure goes hand in hand with boatbuilding, but so does confidence.

About the author

Leave a Reply