Size (width) of bottom planking for 16 ft x 4 ft solid wood boat

I am getting ready to purchase the wood bottom planks for my DIY utility boat and would like suggestions for the width of the bottom wood.

My Idea is to use 1 x 6 wide pine or ceder boards.

My plan is to buy wood that is CLEAR, no knots.

But I could use 1 x 4 or 1 x 8.

I do not know just how wide I dare go before I could run into a problem of splitting.

The boat has 1 x 10 x 16ft Radiata pine sides, edge epoxied to 20 inch wide.

It has a 2x4 frame in the middle, a 2 inch thick transom and will have 1x2 bottom chines for extra support.

I have a 100 year old Gray marine 3 horse power two cycle engine for power, which is pictured (blue/red)in this web site.

This is my first attempt at boat building and I will appreciate any information I receive.

Chester Long

Comments for Size (width) of bottom planking for 16 ft x 4 ft solid wood boat

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Jan 03, 2021
Update after several years
by: Chester Long

My boat is almost done.

I need to add: seats, steering,cables,Detroit motor,clutch,shaft,shaft log, and 12 inch brass prop.

All of the parts are made, they just need to be mounted in the boat.

I also have a trailer that needs bunks yet.

I am 82YO and do not seem to be in any hurry, I slow down more every year!

I have added new pictures.

Jan 20, 2015
Bottom planks
by: Eddie

I've just read, and kept re-reading, George Buehler's excellent "Backyard Boatbuilding".

Suggest that you do the same.

George has a no-nonsense approach to boatbuilding that will get you on the water sooner rather than later.

He knows his stuff.

I believe that he would recommend no more than 4" {100mil} planks.

I envy you that beautiful motor.

Hope that it is as sound as it looks.

Happy landfalls

Jul 22, 2014
DIY wood boat build Knotless
by: Chester Long

Apr 24, 2014
16 ft boat is 3D
by: Chester long (builder) onymous

I have now put the bottom on the boat, so with the sides and the transom,is the term 3D the right way to describe the stage of construction?

Time to paint the outside and work on the design of the inboard propulsion system.

I will try to post a few more pictures.

Apr 03, 2014
I do know what you mean....
by: Harry

Yes Chester , I do know what you mean about expensive and hard to get boat timber , it`s the same story here ( Southern Australia ).

I went to the trouble of laminating all my framing stock, as well as all the stringers, out of 3/4 x 4 inch hardwood decking because I could not find decent stock at a reasonable price.

On a 40 ft Catamaran that is a LOT of work, and certainly was not cheap either.

Being a trailer boat, you should be ok, give the boat lots of fresh air keep it dry, should be ok.

Keep us posted on your project, pictures would be appreciated.

Once again, good luck!

Apr 03, 2014
type of wood
by: Chester Long

Harry -----Thank You for your response but the top side wood was purchased many months ago and I purchased the same kind of wood for the bottom, it is now 3D, if that is the right term.

I am at the stage of sanding and painting the bottom and sides.

Boat lumber here in the mid-west is expensive and not easily available.

I did purchase knot free lumber $$$.

This boat will spend most of it's life on a trailer.

Chester Long

Apr 01, 2014
Radiata Pine
by: Harry

Hello Chester

Are you sure that you want to use Radiata Pine to construct your boat?

IMHO ,There are very few places in a boat where Radiata pine would be suitable, if the stock is fast grown, ie say 3-4 rings per inch, it is VERY rot prone , unstable and weak.

To be honest, I would try to find some clear Oregon (called Douglas Fir in US), a better wood .You may be able to find some recycled clear boards at recycle / salvage yards.

Just my 2 cents worth Chester, good luck.

Mar 01, 2014
Bottom Planks
by: Mike

Hi Chester,

It would be nice to able to say which size would be best but lumber can vary so much.

Better to check out what is available locally.

Try locating a local lumber mill, preferably a small one as they are more likely to take an interest in what you are planning to do with the wood and help you to choose.

Once the boat is built the best way to reduce any risks of splitting, rot etc is to keep her well maintained.

Old growth yellow pine is a superb all round boat wood but these days most of the timber available is faster maturing, plantation grown.

Good white pine is a wonderful wood to work, and available in reasonably long wide pieces.

The other advantage of buying locally is being able to nip back should you need an extra bit.

I shouldn’t worry too much about finding the perfect timber, just build the boat, maintain her and enjoy her.

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