Building the Homemade Wooden Boat

< Back to Part One of How to Build a Homemade Wooden Boat

This boat will basically get you out in the water, but it’s not gonna win any races–well, it might beat a person in a sinking kayak.  The main point of this boat, by the way, was for me to take my sons further out into the lake to fish.  Shore fishing is  hard to get to some of the places where the fish are, so boats help you get to them.

Build a small flat-bottom boat (54)The Materials

First things first, I made the bottom out of 5/8″ plywood.  Going back, I would have probably done the bottom in 1/2″ and the sides in 3/8″ and save some weight.  Lifting this boat over the top of my small SUV requires two people, unless I’m feeling exceptional levels of Popeye-strong.

The bottom of the boat needed to be under 3 foot, so I wouldn’t have a lot of overlap on the roof rack of the CR-V, and I didn’t want it to go past 8′ in length, so I kept it at 8 even.


I shaved about 15 degrees from both sides of the front, going back about 2 feet (see design on first page).  This would give it a slightly pointier front and, hopefully, help it cut through the water a bit better.  I left the back at 90 degrees on both sides.

wooden boat diagram

wooden boat diagram (click to enlarge)

I added a 1×3 pine cleat all the way around the bottom, offset to 1/2″ for the sides to align with the edge of the bottom to make a clean seam.  I attached the cleat with 1 1/4″ exterior wood screws and foaming gorilla glue.

This is the first time I’ve used the foaming stuff, but the guys on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife video said this is good for making watertight seams and to use it everywhere you attached wood to wood.  So, I did–and this glue needs a little extra supervision.  You first wipe both pieces to be joined with a very damp rag, add the glue in a wavy, unbroken line, and join the pieces tightly–either with screws or by clamping.  As it reacts with the moisture, it will foam out of the seams, and you should wipe it up quickly before it fully sets.  It works very well, but I wouldn’t use it on all woodworking projects.

Build a small flat-bottom boat (50)

Sides of boat are on!

Have your son help you build a plywood boat

Matthew adds the transom

Next, we added the sides.  I wanted them to be about little over a foot high.  I cut them with an 11 degree miter so they would join the front or bow of the boat would have a little flair.  I screwed them all together (into the cleats) with wood screws and gorilla glue, for added water-tightedness.

On the back of the boat, or the stern, I cut off about 3 degrees on both sides of the transom from bottom to top.  That would make the sides flair out a bit.  Not sure why, just know that most boat do this, and I’m guessing it has something to do with how it sits in the water.

After I showed him how to measure, and use the chop saw, I let Matthew do the seats by himself.  He did a very good job, and I think it gave him a boost in self-confidence.

It is starting to look vaguely boat-like (although my dad stated that it looks like a double-person coffin, but what does HE know!)

I’m going to add some more photos here of the progression of the build:


> Click Here for more Boat Building Photos





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Jason Sipe Jason Sipe (68 Posts)

Jason Sipe is an artist, craftsman and writer. He has spent the last 20 years working in the art and media fields. He now turns to this blog and helping others learn about creating art as his main focus.