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Wood Boats

Spending time on the water, whether it is in a canoe, kayak, sailboat, rowboat, or even powerboat, is one of the most pleasurable ways of spending time outdoors. And while aluminium, fibreglass, and composite models of these boats are readily available at your local boating or sports store, there is something to be said about the beauty and grace of a finely crafted, hand-built wooden boat.

And let's face it, if you're here at WoodworkDetails, it's because you love wood. You're also here because you're contemplating building one yourself. 

But before you get too far, you should realize that building your own boat will take money, and time.


Low-cost tub-boatFirst, unless you are just building a plywood shell that you intend to dispose of in 3-5 years, your wooden boat will probably cost you more than simply buying a used commercial model from your local Kijiji or Craigslist or classifieds. I'm saying this because many believe the DIY models can be built cheaply. And while they can be relatively cheap, you can usually find a cheaper boat in your classifieds, from someone desperate to sell.

Marine plywood averages around $100 per 4x8 sheet nowadays, and most designs take 2 to 4 sheets. Add the epoxy for another $150. Add miscellaneous hardware (ropes, buckles, foam, etc) for another $100. Absolute minimum you are looking at for a bare-bones model with nothing fancy is $400. You will probably replace this boat in a few years because it is only functional, not desirable.

For the model you really want, it will probably run you closer to $1000 for a two person rowboat.


Let's be honest. You will spend approximately 100 hours on your project. Those hours are NOT consecutive - it will NOT be just two weeks of your vacation. Instead it will be spread over 2 months, with spurts of cutting, gluing, waiting, assembling, epoxying, waiting, applying more epoxy, waiting, varnishing, waiting... you get the picture.

And in addition to the time you spend building your boat, you will also spend a good deal of time beforehand, researching the various aspects of boat-building, and time afterwards, maintaining your beautiful boat.


I'm not trying to scare you off building your own wooden boat. Quite the contrary. By being honest with yourself, and accepting the required investment of time and money, you'll avoid the frustration and disappointment that can come from unfulfilled, unmet expectations.

OK, so what now?

Well, if you made it this far, may as well dive in! I'll be building this section of the site slowly, but here are the basics:
  • Research
  • Pick a plan
  • Get your supplies
  • Cut wood
  • Assemble pieces
  • Protect the wood surfaces
  • Caring for your wood boat
  • Go and have some fun with your boat
When you read that list, it seems rather simple, doesn't it? Now drill down into the links, inform yourself, inspire yourself, then just do it!