Challenge yourself, right from the start, to work to the highest standard of finish that you can, even on the parts that will be hidden from view.
A boat that looks good, in all it’s details, will give you more pride and draw more admiration than one that is too obviously an amateur build.
And it is surprising what a difference can be made with a few small finishing touches.
So, go on, take your time, aim to surprise even yourself.
It easier to get a good finish on paint or varnish if you spend time getting a smooth (matt) finish on all the bare wood right from the start.
And it is easier to get the wood as smooth as possible right from the start as you are cutting the pieces, before assembling them into the boat.
Now by a smooth surface I don’t mean a shiny one but one that has been sanded with a fine grit paper.
That matt surface will take a finish coat better than a shiny smooth one.
Once you’ve finished rubbing down get rid of the rubbing-down dust, it will cause problems if it's not removed.
Sanding dust will block the pores of the wood, reducing penetration of any coating.
A boatbuilding tip for surfaces that are to be glued, they can be left slightly rough or even clean-cut but special care should be taken to remove dust, good penetration is needed to ensure a strong bond.
Boatbuilding Tip Quotes
Des Sleightholme, boatbuilding tips
• To be successful, a self-draining cockpit should be at least eight inches above water level. The minimum leg room is held to be 15 inches.
• To be successfully self-draining, a cockpit should be at least eight inches above water-level, yet in must not be so shallow that it is virtually a box for the feet. ... The drains to empty it must be of at least 1 1/4-in. pipe.
• It must be mentioned that built-in buoyancy should never be more than a last resort. First comes design, and a hull that just cannot be swamped in a knockdown.
Norman L Skene, boatbuilding tips
• 'Science is first in the requisites for consistent success, but it must be blended with natural genius, imagination and much practical handling'.
Henry Ford, boatbuilding tips
• Simplicate, and add more lightness.
• The first requisite of any practical boat is safety, the second comfort, and the third speed. Edson B Schock
John G Hanna, boatbuilding tips
• Other things being equal, the faster boat is preferable. The hell of it is, other things are never equal.
• Cinch up your belt, roll up your sleeves, and go ahead and build it, regardless of hell, hurricanes, and high prices. It'll always be worth the cost, as it always was.
William Atkin, boatbuilding tips
• Unless a boat, however small and simple, is built in a shipshape manner, it is better not built at all.
• 'It is only when the topsides stand high above the water that your straight-sectioned boat looks 'boxy.'
• (About a 16', 8mph power boat) The deadrise is approximately constant throughout the bottom sections, a feature that, assures (all values being equal) an easy and comfortable boat in rough water.
John Teale, boatbuilding tips
• The centre of buoyancy should be just aft of half way between bows and stern.
• Flat-bottomed vessels need slightly more centreboard area; round bottomed ones can get away with slightly less.
HV Sucher, boatbuilding tips
• The beam of a flat-bottomed boat should be no more than half the length; if it is to be rowed or sailed, the length should be two and a half to three times the beam.
Phil Bolger, boatbuilding tips
• In wall-sided boats, making the curvature of the sides equal to the curvature of the bottom ensures that the water pressures at each surface are equal, and reduces eddying and wake, and therefore drag.
• Expense: Never use expensive materials to build a boat designed to be cheap; also, it is bad business to design a cheap looking boat that will be expensive to build
T Harrison Butler, boatbuilding tips
• Don't concentrate ballast amidships in a ballasted boat, or the craft will move unpleasantly, but don’t spread it too far, as that will turn it into a diver. A happy medium is likely to be to distribute it over about the middle third of the distance from stem to stern.
• In small and medium-sized cruising vessels, make the least freeboard about a tenth of the LWL.
• Suitable beam in a round-bottomed cruising boat should be found from the formula square root beam=cube root LWL.
Pete Culler, boatbuilding tips
• Wineglass sections throughout the hull will give slack diagonals in a chunky boat - and that's good!
John F Sutton, boatbuilding tips
• To minimize wave-making, (i) the length on the waterline should be as great as possible; (ii) there should be no parallel body; (iii) the curve of areas of cross section at the waterline should increase smoothly to a peak just aft of amidships and then decrease similarly smoothly, tailing off at both ends; (iv) there should be no abrupt changes in the shape of the of the cross sections, although plaining vessels are an exception to this; (v) in sailing craft, conditions (i) to (iv) should be met also at heeling angles of up to 15 to 20 degrees.
Howard Irving Chappelle, boatbuilding tips
• A straight, nearly upright stem with a good depth of forefoot produces a dry bow.
To be dry, keep the weight away from the ends of the craft. Also, to be
dry a bow should pick up buoyancy smoothly as it submerges and only
needs a moderate flare - in fact a straight-sided Vee-section will do.
There is no advantage to a hollow entrance and a great width at the
sheerline. Carrying flare aft can contribute significantly to dryness,
however. Hollow should not be considered in anything but a relatively
long craft with a length of no less than four times the beam. In craft
with a large square stern, a raked transom with provide lift when hit by
• The most sea kindly boats have between three to
five beams to their length, and a draft of one quarter to one half of
the beam. they also had keels that were significantly deeper at the
stern than at the bows to prevent any tendency to broach in a following
• Balance is important - for example a narrow and deep
hull combined with a wide and shallow stern is undesirable - but in
motorized fishing vessels, at least, this balance of the hull need not
be precise and does not on its own justify a canoe stern.
• Full-ended boats may seem dry, but this is only because they cannot be made to move quickly in a seaway.
James Wharram, boatbuilding tips
• Length should be at least 6 times beam. 10 times beam is better... at about 14 times beam the energy saved in smaller immersed cross section begins to be exceeded by increasing surface friction
William Garden, boatbuilding tips
• A 23' catboat is a one-portlight-per-side size; two would be an affectation.
• Double the fiberglass overlay on chines centerline and sheer to reinforce these stress points. Over-zealous sanding on the easy-to-do corners is a major cause of glass overlay cracks.
• In selecting a rowboat, remember that a 265-pound Whitehall is too much for pleasure rowing... About 100 pounds is the limit for enjoyable rowing.
• The first rule of economy is deletion, and the second rule is substitution.
RD Culler, boatbuilding tips
• Nail where you can, screw where you must, and bolt where you have to.
• A boat without flare is like a ship painter's pontoon, and about as handy underway.
• The keel, stem and stern post of a lapstrake boat should be twice the thickness of the planking, plus the thickness of the stem bolts, plus 1/8 inch.
• Never glue the strakes of a lapstrake boat.
F S Kinney, boatbuilding tips
• . Creating the perfect line means using the eraser again, and again, and again.
• Side decks should be a minimum of 15 inches in width. With anything less it may be wiser to put the deckhouse right out to the side of the hull.
John Welsford, boatbuilding tips
• You can complete your project on time, or or under budget. Never both.
• My experience is that the initial drawings should be hand drawn, but then I am a technophobe when it comes to the electronic drawing board, and chewing on a mouse is not nearly as satisfying as a pencil.
• A small boat of traditional flavor is in reality a caricature, to get the features that say 'trad' and give the boat its flavor there needs to be subtle exaggeration and this can be hard to achieve without either over or under doing it. The designer has to pick out those characteristics in the 'parent' that make it memorable or individualistic and translate those into a form that says to the viewer, 'look at me, I'm going to be like my daddy when I grow up!'
John Illingworth, boatbuilding tips
• A 7-in coaming for even small boats is not too high.
C William Lapworth, boatbuilding tips
• Regardless of the volume of the (self-bailing) cockpit, the drains should be large enough to drain it completely in three minutes after it is filled to the coaming. To prevent flooding of the cabin should the cockpit be filled, the sills of the companionways should be no lower than the lowest point of the coaming.