Building & Maintaining Your Own Boat

Building any kind of boat is a rather complex project that majority of people will never tackle. But then, that is one of the reasons why they don't have their own boat. When you want your dream boat, building it yourself exactly as you want it to be is a very attractive, highly rewarding option.

It is not really that hard. Even the most complex boatbuilding projects consist of a number of small manageable steps. What you really need most of all, apart from interest and your own good will, is information, knowledge and guidance how to do things. And that is exactly our prime focus here, to provide you with one stop place where you can find reliable first-hand experience, ask questions and look for solutions.

Now, most boatbuilders-to-be work with a rather restricted budget. A strong reason for that is the desire to build a bigger boat than our budget can comfortably support. Well, there is nothing wrong with that. It is essentialy a good desire, for as long as you can finance your project to the successful completion. The advantage of a bigger boat over a smaller one of the same type becomes very obvious as soon as you are on the water. One of the great advantages of building your own boat is the great flexibility in financing your project in easier to manage phases, instead of forking out the full amount at once for a commercially available, probably inferior in size and functionality craft.

Apart from the cashflow to finance the phases of your project, you need the space where to set up your boatbuilding workshop. If you are lucky to have a spacious enough garage, and you are prepared to kick your car(s) out into the sun, rain and dirt for a prolonged time, then you can build your dream boat, at least in pieces, in there. That would be very convenient, as you would not need to commute to work on your project, and it would certainly save you the money that would otherwise have to go towards renting a workshop for an extended period.

As an example, have a look at the Platypus, a 6.2m LOA, 2.35m beam traleable aluminum-plate motor boat. Its hull was built upside-down in our home double-car 7.80m by 5.20m garage and then taken out on a low profile platform through the garage door opening of only 2m hight, where it squeezed out with only a few centimeters clearance. The hull was then turned the right side up on the lawn in front of the house, using some old car tires as cushions, and pulled onto its trailer (you see the trailer on the picture). The trailer was then positioned onto the driveway in front of the garage, within reach of the welding machine cables and hoses, and the building of the superstructure and other elements continued. We even added a large tarpaulin tent high above it, to get some degree of protection from the sun and the rain while working out in the open. It was all done by two total boatbuilding amateurs, father and son, who have never before welded aluminum or anything else for that matter, or done anything in boatbuilding.

Platypus at the first launch
The Platypus, 6.20 m LOA, 2.35 m beam, aluminum-plate mini-cruiser.
(click on the link or anywhere on the picture to go directly to the DIY project)
If we could build it, so could you.

And then, you need the right tools for the type of work you would be doing. You can certainly have some specific parts done at professional workshops, which will cost you a bit of money. As an example, look at that proud Platypus handrail going around the front deck, providing substantial protection when you go forward to lower or raise the anchor, or do anything else out there in front. The rail is designed by us, made from a 40mm aluminum pipe bent into shape by a professional workshop. We actually did try to bend a few pipes on a primitive press we got, with rather discouraging results. So, we decided to have the rail bent professionally, and just welded the pieces together.

Yes, you need the right tools. With each and every project we describe the essential tools you will need. Reasonable quality tools are better and typically more economical than cheap ones that break fast and you have to replace them. It is the tools that you really need to treat as long term investments, as they will substantially build up the cost of your project. All in all, because of the tools needed, at least on your first boat (once you build the first one, you may decide to go on) you can hardly achieve substantial savings compared to buying a commercial boat of similar size (yours will be stronger and much better done, though). But, at the end, you will have your special boat, and the tools will stay there, ready for use.

Kayak K520

Another completely contrasting boatbuilding example is the building of a wood-strip K520 kayak in the very same home garage. Working with wood and epoxy is obviously much different than welding, cutting and grinding aluminum. You need a different set of tools for completely different techniques of work, as described within the pages dedicated to this project (just follow the link above, or click on the picture to get there).

Yet, above all, you need to have an interest and a keen desire. That is the beginning of any boatbuilding project. That will see you through to a successful completion.

The ultimate exercise machine that you can build:
The K520 kayak, 5.20 m LOA, 0.53 m beam, western red cedar wood and epoxy. (click anywhere on the picture to go directly to the DIY project)

There are not many feelings that can be compared to launching the boat you have built and taking it around, just as you have done so many times before in your thoughts. And that feeling goes on and on. Every time you take your boat out, you will feel the emotional surge, the mix of pride and the feeling of satisfaction and confidence in your own creation.

  Share Your Experiences With Others

You might be a seasoned boatbuilder already. In that case, you may feel the urge to share your experiences with others. Or, your future projects may still be right there in your dreams. Whatever is the case, together we know more. For the common benefit, share your experiences with the rest of us. Many good things can result from that.

We have a keen interest in sail boats (and some big plans). As our preferred boatbuilding material is aluminum (aluminum, as you might say), you might have noticed already that fiberglass boats, so popular with many, are completely missing initially. It would be certainly great to fill in that gap. If you have a fiberglass boat, or any kind of experiences or intentions with that kind of material, share it with the rest of us. You may say fiberglass is the very best boatbuilding material there is. Well, let us exchange our experiences. With good will, we will all agree at some point.

The dedication and the purpose of this site is to build together a reliable source of information and expertise on boats, boatbuilding and boating of all kinds, a place where we all can refer to for information and advice.

Together we can do it better.

Together we know more. Together we can do more, and do it better.
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ver. Beta
Last upd: 19-Aug-10 F150806