How Do I Choose the Best Wooden Boat Designs?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2019
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Before choosing any wooden boat designs, decide what you will use the boat for once it is built. A wooden boat built for use on a small lake or pond will be significantly different than a wooden boat used on the ocean, choppy water, or rivers, so it will be important to have a specific purpose in mind when choosing wooden boat designs. Once you have determined the purpose of the boat, research the available plans for your purposes, and narrow the choices down by eliminating boat plans that require tools or skills you do not have and cannot acquire.

Some boatbuilding techniques will require specially designed jigs, expensive tools, and particular skills that can take time to develop. If you are just beginning your boatbuilding career, start with simpler wooden boat designs that will allow you to build your skills without investing too much money in tools and time. You will more than likely need jigs for building the boat, and these jigs can be purchased prefabricated or built from scratch. Choose wooden boat designs that call for jigs you can either build quickly and easily, or you can afford to buy.


Some common wooden boat designs use a lapstrake technique for construction of the vessel. This is a fairly straightforward method good for small to medium sized vessels, and a person who is relatively new to boat building might want to start with this technique. This is not to say the technique is easy, but it is something that can be learned quickly, and since the vessels are generally smaller, the investment of time and money for materials will be lower. Larger vessels use other techniques that may require more mastery as well as a more significant investment in time and money.

The available wooden boat designs will also vary according to the propulsion method. Some boats, for example, are propelled by paddles that are operated by the user. Other boats feature gasoline engines that are mounted to the boat. The size of the engine and the speeds that the boat will reach will have an impact on the boat's design, specifically in terms of supporting the weight of the engine and other components as well as dealing with the higher speeds that the boat will attain. High-speed boats are specifically designed for maneuverability and stability, so it is important to keep this in mind when choosing among the many designs.


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