DIY Project: How to build a real boat?

Have you ever considered building your boat and having fun in it while fishing and surfing along the gigantic ocean? Gone are the days when you had to strive hard for beginning a project and buying materials. 

Now, with the ease of access on the internet, you can find some of the most suitable plans/blueprints that will help you immensely. The web is surely full of such materials where you can get several blueprints that are easy to follow. They can and will help you in completing your projects.

On NYK Daily, you will find such DIY Projects in the creativity section and today, let’s explore how can you, yes you, build a boat.

Boats can be constructed from different materials. Typically fiberglass, timber, iron, or aluminum. Let’s build a boat today with a subtle blend of wood and fiberglass.

Boats constructed from wood usually employ exotic “marine” ply or to save on cost “exterior-grade” plywood. Today we are using a high quality 5 ply 1/4″ surface plywood available at any local lumberyard. 

The rest of the boat will require a small amount of Douglass fir lumber, about 200 ring leg nails, 8 yards of bidirectional fiberglass fabric, 1.5 gallons of polyester resin, and some electric fence wire(for stitching panels together).


  1. Power Drill
  2. various drill bits mostly 1/8 inch or less
  3. Hand Belt Sander
  4. Hack Saw
  5. Miter Box
  6. Miter Saw
  7. Table Saw
  8. Saber Saw
  9. Hand Power Planer

The Joint

1- cut one sheet to the dimensions on the plans (almost in half).

2- Butt the straight edge of a half sheet and full sheet together on a flat surface covered with was paper.

3-Coat both surfaces with epoxy or polyester resin

4- Lay a 4-inch wide strip of 6 oz fiberglass tape across the entire length of the butt-joint

5- Be sure the tape is completely saturated and there are no air bubbles

6- place peel ply or wax paper over butt-joint and smooth out the resin with a putty knife

7- let it dry for at least 24 hours

8- flip plywood, and repeat for the other side.

These steps will be done to create two 12ft pieces of plywood.


Lofting is just a game of connecting the dots, and it is the first step in building most stitch and glue boats. The plans come with a sheet representing the layout of all the plywood parts with numbers showing various points on each component. Thinking of the points like they are on an XY plane all you have to do is take the horizontal and vertical distances from the plans, measure, and transfer them to the plywood. Then when each point is plotted to drive a brad nail into each dot.

Now all you have to do is connect the dots. Obviously, we can’t use straight lines, so we will use a batten. Which is a long, thin, straight, and flexible piece of wood. Take the batten and place it against the outside of the nails. At this point, the curve of the batten represents the shape of the panel. Use the batten as an edge to draw the curved line from one nail to the next. Be sure to double-check the measurement.

Cutting the Panels, Frames, and Transom

1- Using the directions for lofting, loft the bottom panel, one bilge panel, and one side panel. Cut them all out then use the bilge and side panels as patterns.

2- flip the bilge and side panel onto the sheets, weight them down, and trace around them to make exact replicas. Then cut out.

3- Loft and cut out the transom

4- Loft and cut out the frames A, B, and C. However, keep the center sections in place to help with rigidity.


This is the most tedious part of the boat to build and requires several lofting steps. The stem is built from 4 layers of 1/2″ plywood.

1- Loft the dimensions

2-cut out and smooth

3- make 3 identical pieces from the original

4- stack, clamp, and glue together

5- loft the lines for the rolling bevel onto each side and the front of the stem.

6- use a power plane to remove wood from each side of the stem to the two lines drawn for the rolling bevel on each side of the stem.

7- smooth bevel with a hand belt sander.


1- The first thing is making the leg.

2 Since the frames are a little thin attach 3/4″ blocks to both sides with wire nails(easy to remove) and make sure they are flush with the edges of each frame a, b, and c. We will be temporarily attaching the hull panels to these blocks later.

3. On each panel draw the lines where each frame will be attached. Be sure to mark both sides of each panel.

4. Attach legs to panels B and C, check to space against plans, ensure they are centered, square to each other, level, and perfectly vertical.

5. mark the position of the legs on the floor and glue to the floor with 5-minute epoxy.

 Now that the frames are secure it is time to attach the various hull panels.

6. Start by laying the bottom panel across the two frames, center it and align it to the frame marks on the panel

7. attach to frame-block temporarily by clamping then driving wire nails into blocks. Let some of the nail stick out.

8. Attach the transom with, structural epoxy t-88 or polyurethane glue(waterproof), clamps, and ring shank nails to the bottom panel.

9. After centering and aligning attach the stem with epoxy and marine ring shank nails.

10. With the help of another person attach the side panels to frames b, c following the same procedure for the bottom panel except don’t attach to the stem or transom yet.

11. To avoid building a twist into the boat we have to be careful to bring the side panels into contact with the transom at the same time then glue, clamp, and nail. The same procedure is necessary when attaching the side panels to the stem.

12. The next step is the bilge panel, but to attach it we first have to start at the transom and work forward. First, align the bilge panel so the gap between it and the bottom and side panels are minimized then nail to the transom and clamp to the stem.

13. At this point, it is time to start stitching. drill holes about 1/2″ from the edge of each panel every 4″-6″. The hole should be the same thickness as the wire you are using to stitch the boat together.

14. start cutting 6-8 inch lengths of wire to stitch the boat together with.

15. stitch it together working from the back to front. (It would have been nice to have a little kid for this step)

16. feed the wire through the holes from back to front, you have to do this from under the boat. After you are finished twist each wire together. Making sure the panels don’t overlap one another, adjust the tension of each “stitch” as needed. As you near the stem glue and nail the bilge panes to it. Follow this procedure for each bilge panel. Also, when approaching the frames go ahead and nail them to the frame-blocks.

17. attach frame A using frame-blocks, nails, and clamps.

The Putty

Mix up resin as usual then add micro balloons or wood flour until it is the consistency of peanut butter, then working quickly and cleanly use it to fill the small gaps between the panels, don’t go over the stitches. After everything is dry remove the stitches and fill the areas we skipped earlier with more of the putty mixture.

Note: When doing the stem it will be ugly and probably take a few coats putty to build up a profile that can be rounded with a file later.

Now, get out a power sander to smooth and round everything over, but be careful not to bump the boat. It won’t have enough strength until the joints have been fiberglassed.

Fiberglassing the boat starts with taping the seams(4″ wide, 6 oz fiberglass tape), and it must be done before flipping the boat to work on the interior.

Start with the transom

1. cut enough cloth to cover the entire transom and leave about an inch of overlap around the edges.

2. Mix resin

3. Coat the transom with a small roller saturated in resin

4. Lay the pre-cut cloth into the resin

5. Carefully pull out wrinkles

6. Set the cloth into the resin with the roller starting from the center and working towards and over the edges to ensure there are no wrinkles or bubbles.

Panel Seams. Bottom to bilge panel seam first. Bilge to side panels second. Stem third(two layers).

1. Roll out enough fiberglass tape to cover the entire seam back to front.

2. Coat the area with resin.

3. Lay tape into the resin

4. Use a roller to lay flat and distribute resin. (don’t use too much)

5. again be sure to get out any air bubbles

Use any excess resin to coat the boat if it is within a few minutes of gelling. Then when finished taping continues coating the boat with resin to help seal it.

Give it a week for everything to seal, and your boat is ready.

Source: My own experience, instructables and WikiHow

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