How To Build A Timber Boat From Scratch


The only natural material for building boats is wood. There are various designs in the art of wooden boat building. The techniques for building wooden boats depends on the type of boat, the technique and procedure for making day sailors is different from the one used for construction of powerboats, cruising boats, or performance rows among several others.

Likewise, depending on the type of boat you want to build, you have an option of choosing from a large variety of timbers.

Since wood is known to retain moisture which encourages growth of fungal spores and eventual decay, you need to protect the timber you will use to put your boat together with coatings and quality preservatives.

Different types of trees produce varying qualities of timber. It is therefore important to understand the options before picking any type of timber for construction of your boat.


This type of wood is ideal for construction of a boat intended for use at sea.

You don’t have to worry too much about protecting it with preservatives, the sea water will effectively perform that task.

However, fresh water will rot it away if is not properly protected. So if you intend to sail it on fresh water, apply preservative and coating to the timber.

If you can get sea water, wash the wood in it.


They take long growth time, slowly tightening their grains. They are therefore known for their strength and length.

Owing to these qualities, they are the most commonly used type of timber in wooden boat building.

Teak and Iroko

They don’t wear out easily because they contain silica. Moreover, they are not affected by rot and decay.

These characteristics entice boat makers into including them in most of their boat plans.


They are mainly used for construction of spars, masts, oars, rubbing stakes and planked hulls.

This is because their grain is long and straight. It is also more widely spaced since they have a faster growth than that of hardwood.

How To Build A Timber Boat: Simple Steps to Follow

One of the most important things to remember before beginning to build a timber boat is that the number of ribs determines the length of the boat.

Therefore, the more ribs your boat has, the longer it is. The less the ribs you fit to it, the shorter it will be.

To get the ribs, first steam straight spruce stock. Then bend and laminate them.

Place them in a jig and pull them so that they take the shape of the boat-making mould. Finally leave them to dry.

After they are dry, remove the ribs and put epoxy between the ribs, then wrap everything in plastic. This prevents it from sticking.

To enable the setting of the epoxy, put the ribs back in the mould and hold them tight with clamps.

Screw the ribs to the bottom-board and fit a stretcher assembly inside the boat as well as below the boat. This is done by clamping and then screwing in order to keep the ribs in place.

Remember, this is temporary since you’ll not need the stretcher after the strips are put in place.

Attach a laminated stem to every side of the boat and fit the first strip and keep fitting more until the hull is completely planked.

When the boat is planked, scrape and sand it until you are satisfied that the job is properly done. Then fill the screw holds and sand more.

Dry-fit a fiber-glass cloth to one side of the boat and apply epoxy from the middle towards the ends. Perform the same procedure with the other side.

Fit the end of the boats with the cloth after cutting it.

The fiberglass cloth is now stuck to the hull on your boats exterior. When dry, repeat the scraping and sanding procedure.

Then apply another two coats of epoxy, filling the fiberglass cloth weaves.

Since you are now done with your boats exterior, it’s time to do some sanding on the interior.

Fit the seats and seat risers when sufficient sanding is done. Then remove them and apply epoxy. This time you can leave out fiberglass cloth.

Apply 3 coats of spar varnish. Remember to ensure that the epoxy has cured well. Additionally, ensure that there is no dust.


Your boat plans have now been put into practice and you are ready to set sail. Remember, wooden boat building will take you approximately 2 months.

Keeping your boat floated on sea water is better than leaving it fresh water. If you are storing the boat on your yard, keep it above ground and cover it to prevent damage from bad weather and allow air circulation.