The Basics Needed to Build a Boat
Posted by Gayle Brantuk on Mar 16th 2011
Sometimes it helps to go back to the basics whether it’s with marketing a business or building a boat.
We are frequently asked what you need to get started building your own boat. So, I thought it would be a good idea to spell out for you what you need to get started.
Let’s say you’ve decided to build the Squirt which is a 10′ outboard runabout and our most popular design.
First, you’ll need the plans and patterns. Some like to get those first to get a grasp of what the project entails.
With a boat designed for plywood construction, all of the joints are screwed and glued. So, you’ll need fastenings. We recommend bronze screws and nails and have a kit for this design.
You can also use hot-dipped galvanized screws, but it’s difficult to find good quality ones. The way I feel about it is that you’re putting a lot of time and energy into your boat and using the best fastenings makes sense both from a safety standpoint and for resale value.
We frequently get questions about using stainless steel fastenings for building a boat. Our rule of thumb is only use stainless above the waterline–they aren’t reliable below. One of our builders, Mark Bronkalla, wrote a detailed article on this subject that you can read here.
You’ll need glue–we recommend a quality epoxy. There are many on the market and if you can find something locally, you’ll obviously save shipping charges. Glen-L does have an epoxy glue called “Poxy-Grip” which is a great adhesive if you can’t find something local.
For the Squirt, you'll need about a quart of glue.
Another item we carry that is very helpful is our transfer paper. This is used to transfer the patterns to the wood–it’s a 2 foot by 16 foot sheet of graphite paper. You can cut it in half and lay the two 2 foot pieces side-by-side to cover a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of plywood.
You’ll also need to get together your wood which again, is best found locally and Glen-L doesn’t carry wood anyway. We have a list of lumber suppliers online by State.
Once your boat is built but still upsidedown on the building form, you have the option of fiberglassing it. This is done by applying a layer of fiberglass cloth over the outside of the hull and using several coats of epoxy to adhere it to the wood and fill the cloth weave. Again, we have a kit for this, with the specific materials you need for the Squirt or whatever boat you’re building.
You’ll notice for many of our designs, including the Squirt, we have several options when it comes to Fiberglass Kits. Each option contains a different type of epoxy, but you only need to choose one. The “Fiberglass Kit” contains our Poxy-Shield Epoxy. The “Fiberglass Kit – System Three” contains System Three’s General Purpose epoxy. The “Fiberglass Kit – System Three Silver Tip” contains System Three’s Silver Tip epoxy which is a no-blush epoxy especially good for a natural finish.
If you click on the name of each of the above kits in our online store, you’ll be taken to a page that lists the materials included in each. Again, the only difference is the epoxy. We provide a couple of choices so you’ll have options.
Once the fiberglassing is done and cured, you can either paint it or varnish it for a natural look. The final coating needs to contain a UV finish because epoxy doesn’t and if you don’t protect it, it will deteriorate over time.
Some prefer to flip the boat and finish out the deck and some of the interior and flip it back to paint. It’s up to you. On a small boat like the Squirt it’s not a big deal.
Once the boat is right side up, the interior finishing is a matter of personal preference. Some do their own upholstery, some have custom work done. There are lots of options on the dash depending on the gadgets you choose. You’ll need steering–we have a suitable push-pull system for the Squirt.
This is the point where you get to be creative. Building the boat is done per the plans, but after that is where your personality comes through. Have fun with it.
We have so many photos online and you can look at what other builders have done for inspiration. You’ll probably pick ideas from various builders and maybe come up with your own which is what will make your boat one-of-a-kind.
Pretty awesome isn’t it? A custom boat at a fraction of the cost! Have fun with it…
Glen-L Word of the Week:
A scab that joins the side and bottom frame members at the chine.