Boatbuilding with Plywood

For most amateurs, plywood is the material of choice. Plywood is one of the cheapest and easiest building materials, one that the average do-it-yourselfer is both familiar and comfortable with. Plywood is also, pound for pound, stronger than steel. Because of its high strength to weight, plywood construction yields a boat that is much lighter and performs better than a “chopper gun” fiberglass boat. When used with the GLEN-L Epoxy Encapsulation System, plywood is as long lasting and as low in maintenance as any other material. No exotic tools are required, and with the possible exception of enough C-clamps, plywood boats can be built with the tools in the average home workshop. Plywood boats are frequently built in school wood shops or by youth groups as individual or group projects. To take full advantage of the material, our Plans and Patterns detail simplified construction methods geared to the abilities of the amateur. No difficult woodworking procedures, such as steam bending, are ever required, and the GLEN-L pattern system makes the difficult lofting procedure unnecessary.

Plywood is used as a “sheet” material in the majority of plywood boats, including Stitch-N-Glue. Plywood is also used in “cold-molded” construction and “multi-diagonal” planking. On each design page the method is listed under “Hull” in Characteristics.

SHEET PLYWOOD:
This is the most common type of construction used by the home builder. Plywood is used in panels of one or two layers. This requires a minimum of cutting and fitting and requires much fewer frames than most “traditional” planking methods. For a look at the steps in plywood boatbuilding in more detail see our Sheet Plywood Pictorial Guide with captions.

COLD-MOLDED or MULTI-DIAGONAL:
This method is utilized on round bilge hulls or hulls with compound shapes. The method involves cutting the plywood into strips (widths vary depending on curve), and laying up layers at angles to each other, glued and fastened. Epoxy is the recommended adhesive. Multi-diagonal Planking Pictorial Guide.

 

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