What Are the Best Tips for Making a DIY Boat?

Dan Cavallari

A DIY boat project can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be expensive and difficult to complete. A potential boat builder will need to carefully consider his own carpentry skills before taking on such a project, and he will also need to keep in mind that it may be necessary to invest in purchasing some tools that will make the boatbuilding project possible. Drawing up a detailed budget should be the first step in any DIY boat project, keeping in mind incidental costs such as tool purchases and rentals, material costs, and storage costs where applicable.

Boat builders who intend to make a hull out of fiberglass should already be familiar with how to lay it down before they begin.
Boat builders who intend to make a hull out of fiberglass should already be familiar with how to lay it down before they begin.

A potential boatbuilder will also need to decide what type of boat he wants to build. This choice can be narrowed down by determining what size boat the builder wants for his DIY boat project. The size and type of the boat will also dictate the building methods in many cases, so these determinations will need to be made before any items are purchased. If the boatbuilder is new to building, he may want to consider a DIY boat project that is completed by purchasing a kit. The kit will often give step-by-step directions, and most, if not all, of the necessary materials for building the boat will be included with the kit. Tools to complete the project will most likely not be included with the kit, however.

One of the most important steps for any DIY boat project is clearing out an adequate workspace. This space should be well-ventilated so sawdust and fumes do not build up, causing a potential health hazard, and there should be plenty of available light, either natural light or electric light. The space will need to be quite large, depending on the size of the boat being worked on during the DIY boat project; it is important to remember that the boat will very often need to be mounted on jigs, which can be quite large themselves. The builder should be sure to allow for plenty of extra space for tools and materials.

It is a wise decision to carefully research boatbuilding techniques that apply specifically to the DIY boat project being undertaken. Some techniques are far simpler than others, and many may require specialty tools. If possible, it is a good idea to visit a professional boatbuilder to gain insight on the proper techniques and any processes that may make the project go more smoothly.

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Discussion Comments


@browncoat - You aren't kidding. My uncle used to build boats and it would take him months or years to complete each one. It's definitely not a hobby for someone who gets bored quickly.

I don't think he ever used a kit, although I think he had some carpentry skills before he got into it.

After the first few he was even making his own DIY boat plans.

It was really fascinating as a teenager to see the plan and eventually see the finished boat, although I never really got to help him with the projects. I wish I had had the chance now.


Unless you've got some serious wood working skills already, I'd go with not starting a big boat building project right off the bat.

If you get a kit for your first project you'll be able to see whether you actually have the ability and the patience to see the project through, without investing too much money.

And, with a kit, it will be easy enough to sell it off again, even half finished, if you decide you can't manage it. If you just have a bunch of materials you collected yourself, you might find that to be a bit more difficult.

Start with a small boat and a ready made kit and work your way up to other projects. It's much more of a commitment than you might think to build a boat.

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