Notes on Kit Boats
people are building wooden kit boats and there is an ever increasing
choice of kits to choose from.
How to choose a Kit that will be right for you, your skills, your pocket and produce a boat to be proud of.
Which Kit Boat for
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If you are going to
spend time effort and your hard earned cash on a kit boat try to weigh
up all the pros and cons before you chose.
How much woodworking
expertise do you have?
And how much boating
Wooden boat kits are ideally
suited to the do-it-yourself handy person but if this is your first
attempt, be realistic, start with something small and straight forward.
And if your boating
experience is limited chose a design which you are confident that you
can handle. Even better, get out on the water, join a club and try out
the boats you are interested in before committing your self to a kit.
which will affect the choice of kit are,
- Where you going to
- And where are you
going to keep her when she is finished.
Most kit boats use epoxy
resins, these work best in stable environmental conditions.
Many kit boats have been
built outdoors but clearly it is preferable to use a garage, workshop
or spare room.
And preferably one which
can be dedicated to the job for however long you need to take over it.
Once the boat is built
if she is large you will probably need to keep her on a mooring or in
an expensive marina.
A small boat, on the
other hand can be kept at home and either car
topped or transported on a trailer to wherever you fancy
However, for this you need to
consider the hull weight, will you be able to lift it onto your car or
if trailing will the car cope with the weight.
Now what about the hull shape?
Most kits are either
Hard-chined or Multi-chined.
Some would argue that
multi-chine boats are better looking than hard chined and they do have
the edge when it comes to hull efficiency.
However, they are more
difficult and time consuming to build as there are many more parts and
much more fiberglass work is involved.
Hard chined boats, on the
other hand are renowned for great handling, stability, load carrying
They are also, by far the
easiest type to build.
And as for looks, what could
be prettier than a well built dory?
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Building a kit boat, will cost more
than buying the plans and all the materials separately your self and
building from scratch.
However, the difference in
cost is minimal as many of the kit boat retailers pass on the savings
they make by buying the materials in bulk.
And, any savings you make will
depend on your being able to source the materials locally and cheaply.
It is surprising how shipping
costs can add up if everything has to be bought at a distance.
Besides, any saving could soon
go out the window if you happen to make a mistake in the cutting.
So, a kit that has all the
parts pre-cut, will not only eliminate the danger of wasting valuable
wood but save you a lot of building time as well.
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All the better kit boats are now cut
out using CNC. (computer numerical control), this is the process of
cutting parts using a high speed router head or a laser which is
These machines can cut the
parts far more accurately and much faster than a human can.
Using CNC not only improves
the quality of the parts but should help reduce costs and lower the
price of the kits.
Look for kits which have been
CNC. cut using router heads rather than lasers.
There is no difference in
accuracy or precision but laser cutting leaves a black burned edge and
cannot cut in three dimensions.
Routers on the other hand can
cut scarfs, rabbets, and bevels and leave a smooth even edge.
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The most popular wood boat kits use the
hard chine stitch
and glue technique.
These boat kits are the
cheapest and simplest to contemplate.
Using plywood panels that have
been pre-cut to size the builder then has to stitch them together with
cable tires or wire, then bonded the panels together with epoxy and
Only a few small power and
hand tools are required to complete these wood boat kits.
But you will need a clear
mind, patience and the willingness to read and follow the directions.
It will also be of assistance
if you have some basic carpentry skills.
Other methods such as strip-plank
building, multi-chine and lapstrake involve many more pieces and more
And they take longer to finish
as there is more faring to do.
The majority of kits suggest a
building time for completing each of them, these should be regarded as
a minimum time.
The first time builder can
quite easily double the time taken due to interruptions, time taken to
figure out what that funny little bit is and where it should go as well
as getting to grips with a new skill.
However, even if this is your
first major woodworking project or if you have limited free time,
building a kit boat will be just as rewarding and as much fun as using
like whiskey, are all good."
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