How to Build a Boat out of Plywood and Fiberglass

How to build your own wooden boatEvery time we go camping at Clear Lake near Mount Hood in Oregon, I used to jealously walk past all of the canoes, kayaks and rowboats dotting the shoreline of the lake, waiting to be taken out into the water for hours of fishing and paddle-borne awesomeness.

We currently have a small Honda CR-V, and I just couldn’t imagine pulling a full-size boat on a trailer with it, so the idea of a small boat that I could transport on top of it was very attractive.

So, being that I also love to experiment with projects outside of my comfort zone, I started to imagine building a small plywood boat that I could then fiberglass and make seaworthy, or, I mean lakeworthy.

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After researching several videos and websites (Hannu’s Boatyard is a classic website and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife have an excellent instructional Youtube video), I decided to try and make my own 2 sheet plywood boat.

Plans for building a homemade wooden boatSo, with most of the thoughts and plans in my head, I quickly sketched a basic layout of the boat on a piece of paper and went to the lumber yard.

I decided NOT to use marine grade plywood because I was trying to keep things cheap, so I opted for ACX plywood–one sheet of 1/2″ (for sides), and one sheet of 5/8″ for the bottom.

Seriously, this homemade boat CAN be made with only two sheets of plywood, some fiberglass cloth and polyester resin (you can also use epoxy), screws, bondo, and paint, and will only cost you approximately $150 in materials.

On a side note:  I think this would be a great project for you to do with one of your kids.  It really gives them a sense of achievement and something for which to feel pride.  I built this with my oldest son, Matthew.  He’s 13 years old, and, at a whopping 5’9,” is big enough and strong enough to be a valuable teammate–he just needs lots of direction to keep him focused on the task at hand.  We built the majority of the boat in one afternoon, and spent the next day or so “bondoing,” sanding, adding fiberglass, more sanding, more fiberglassing, and painting.

> Go to page 2, “Building the Homemade Wooden Boat”

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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.