Small Boat Building

The following are pictures and a video that follow the story in the book “Small Boat Building“. There are also pictures showing the steps of the build mentioned in the book, in the Building Guide. You can download it free.

The boat

This wooden boat made of plywood is 3 metres long, 1 metre wide and carries up to 4 adults.  With a 3.3hp outboard motor she can get an adult and teenager up on the plane.

It’s inexpensive to make, the material costs were under $300 Australian.  You can walk it to the water. In Queensland it doesn’t need registration and you don’t need a licence to drive it.  I built this boat together with my son in one month in the garage.


View the video

A low cost project you can build in your garage.

This videos shows some of the steps from start to finish, building the boat.  How it performed on the water and in another video, getting it to fly with homemade hydrofoils..

The beginning

The boat started life as a sketch.  I got the tape measure out and started checking out how big I could build this boat.  Measuring what would fit on the foot path, in my shed.  Some mock ups in the house with boxes and books, to work out seat spacing, height, distance from bonnet to lean against comfortably.

Designing the hull

One I had the dimensions I wanted I sat down with the computer using a free CAD program called delftship to design the hull.  With the program I could unfold the sections that made up the hull and use the dimensions to plot the shape onto the plywood.

Getting the materials home

Not much is needed in the way of materials for this boat.  Some sheets of plywood, epoxy resin, some filler and a little fibreglass tape.  And some basic hand and power tools.  All we had to work in was a one car garage, but it was enough!

Cutting out the pieces

The hull is all made from plywood.  The length of the boat is longer than a sheet of plywood so 2 sheets need to be scarfed together length wise, before cutting out.  Then the dimensions from the CAD drawing are plotted onto the wood.  The dots joined with a fairing baton (a thin straight piece of wood) and the cutting out can begin..

Bringing the pieces together

Once the pieces of ply are cut, they are brought together around the forward frame and the transom at the stern (back).  The boat quickly takes shape..

Gluing it all together

I used thin metal tabs blocks of wood to hold the wood together temporarily.  I used thickend epoxy to join the wood in places, just like tack welding in metal.

Filleting inside corners

Once the wood was all “tack welded” together I could take out the screws and run fillets of epoxy all the way around all the internal edges “welding” the wood together.

Fibreglass taping outside

The outside edges of the of the plywood joins are rounded and sanded smooth then fibreglass tape is applied.

Adding the frame and stringers

The temporary forward frame was replaced with the real one.  This was again spot glued in place then filleted both sides.  The hand rails were added.  Vertical stringers were added to the sides to stiffen them.

Fairing the bottom

After fibreglass taping the outside corners of the bottom of the hull, the glass tape was faired into the hull using epoxy mixed with Q-cells.  Any imperfections in the plywood were also filled using this bog.  It’s important to get the bottom smooth!  With it’s light weight and smooth bottom, even with a 3.3hp motor we can get on the plane and reach speeds impossible with an aluminium tinny.

Adding the bonnet

The bonnet is prefabricated and bonded on to the boat.  A pine grab rail is also added at its rear edge.   The bonnet is something I designed into all my little power boats.  It gives protection, dry storage, a grab rail and something to lean back against when you are fishing or enjoying a beer..

Walk to the water, put the wheels inside and go! It doesn’t get much easier than this..

After 1 month – a boat

The boat still needs to be painted. But it is fully usable as is. It is water proof and this is the time to add things or change things to suit. The paint is needed after some time to protect the epoxy from the UV rays. It will eventually degrade in the sun if not protected but we have time to test and enjoy before painting.


Plans are available for this boat

The boat in the plans is slightly longer than the original boat in these pictures, for speed and also to meet the volume requirements for a 5hp motor, in case you need to register the boat.

Tim Weston Boats

This website is all about boats, home boat building and other DIY projects.  A place for the do it yourself builder and anyone interested in boats and making things.

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