How to Build a Sailing Boat

How To Build A Sailing Boat

Have you ever wondered how to build a sailing boat and how difficult it is? It turns out that if you are not aiming too grand, a DIY-boat is real talk!

A dinghy, for instance, is easy to manufacture and may become the first self-constructed construction of a novice shipbuilder. The boat can accommodate two people, and its stability allows you to sail in the wind up to 4 points.

Building A Sailing Boat

A slight draft makes it possible for hunters and fishermen to use a dinghy in shallow water, and its lightweight allows it to be transported on a car trunk. Even one person can easily drag such a ship ashore or launch it. This boat is also suitable for sports with children. The main dimensions of a dinghy are length – 2.44 m, width – 1.15 m. Its draft with a dagger is not more than 0.5 m, weight without crew – about 20 kg. It is equipped with a sail of around 3.5 m2.

Building a hull of a sailing boat

The main advantages of this boat are the extreme simplicity and low cost of construction. It is assembled from a set of elements: boards, transom, stem, and bottom. A shipway is not needed.

To build a boat with your own hands, you will need the following:
• plywood (best waterproof) 5-6 mm thick – 2 sheets 3 m long;
• pine slats 2500x30x20 mm – 5 pcs.;
fiberglass – 5 m;
• fiberglass tape 40 mm x 48 m;
• epoxy glue – 10 kg;
• screws – 16 pcs.;
• rails 2400x80x8 mm – 8 pcs.;
• pine blanks for the mast 2500x40x20 mm-2 pcs.;
• bars for the manufacture of rails 2100x30x25 mm-2 pcs.;
• pine boards for the manufacture of cans with a width of 300 mm – 3 pcs.;
• fabric for sail (chintz, calico or rainwear fabric) – 5m;
• soft cables or durable linen cords for sail equipment – 15 m;
• copper or brass wire with a thickness of 1.5-2 mm —5 m.

How To Build A Sailing Boat

Preparation of the basis elements for the hull of a DIY sailing boat

The construction of a simple dinghy begins with the cutting of plywood sheets. If the plywood sheets you purchased are less than three meters in length, then they will have to be combined into one sheet 3000 × 1500 mm in size.

  1. On a full-size plywood sheet, the blanks of the sides are drawn, and then they are precisely cut out according to the marking.
  2. The bottom is also cut out. In this case, you need to leave a small allowance, making sure that the marking line remains visible on the part. You will make use of this allowance when processing the body after the assembling process. The centerboard hole at the bottom is cut out for an exact fit. For the transom, use the appropriate remainder of the plywood sheet.
  3. The stem is made from a pine board 20 mm thick. Two blanks should be cut, as one of them will be used as an overlay for the stem during the final decoration of the bow of the boat. Therefore, the dimensions of this workpiece should be slightly larger than the stem itself.

DIY boat hull assembly

The case is assembled using clips from copper wire 1.5–2.0 mm thick. Paired holes of 02 mm for these clips are drilled in the bottom and sides along the line of contact. Apply a spacing of about 70-100 mm and 1 cm away from the edges.

Build A Sail Boat

You need to be especially careful when adjusting the nose edges of the sides, which are adjacent and connected to the stem. Then you need to attach the bottom, the size of which should precisely fit the sides, transom, and stem. First, on the connection line from the side, the sliding T bevel should be removed. After the main elements are connected, the hull of the boat takes its final shape.


  • Clips, in this case, play the role of mounting elements and cannot provide strength and tightness of the hull of the boat. For these purposes, a binder with a filler is used, which seams the joints along all edges.
  • Another connector is fiberglass. It forms when several layers of thin fiberglass tape are applied on the outside and inside of the boat.
  • To get a durable fiberglass layer and avoid air bubbles and peeling from plywood, it is necessary to immerse the wire of brackets deeper into the wood, which would go through and emerge above the joint inside the case. You can do this with a hammer and a blunt chisel or another similar tool. At the same time, the seam is additionally contracted and becomes stronger. It is also essential to clean the bonding area well first.

Connecting the elements

  1. Start the assembly from the inside of the boat. It is advisable to limit the area covered in glue by applying adhesive masking tape on both sides of the joint.
  2. Prepare the epoxy adhesive mix according to the instructions.
  3. Apply it with a brush.
  4. Check that the fiberglass fabric does not contain paraffin (in this case, remove it with gasoline, solvent or acetone). If your fiberglass has high humidity, it must be calcined in a gas oven.
  5. Lay a dry fiberglass tape 40-50 mm wide on top of the epoxy glue. It is advisable to use a factory-made tape that is widely used for insulation work.
  6. Tap the fiberglass with a hard brush moistened with a binder until it is evenly covered and becomes transparent. Do not just apply too much!
  7. Remove air bubbles! Otherwise, because of them, the plastic may exfoliate, and water will penetrate the wooden case.
  8. Lay 3 or 4 layers of fiberglass tape inside, alternately slightly shifting each subsequent layer in different directions so that the edge of the tape is offset by 10-15 mm.
  9. When the glue sets, you can remove the adhesive tape that limits the gluing surface, and leave the body for a day to gain strength.
  10. Remove the sticking-out staples with wire cutters from the outside of the case, then ground and clean the surface with a file.
  11. It is necessary to thoroughly fill in all the rough edges and spaces with a mixture of the epoxy glue mix with a filler – very fine sawdust or wood flour.

Remember, during the processing of all surfaces coated with fiberglass, not to remove the layer of glue and expose fiberglass – in this case, water will get in between the fibers of the fabric, and the edges of the plywood will begin to rot!

Boat hull equipment

• Cut from the remnants of plywood scraps for the walls of the centerboard hole. Two strips are glued to each wall from the outside with epoxy glue, as well as at the edges of the well.
• From a board measuring 1100x250x20 mm, you can make a bench. In its center, at 1/4 of the width, a recess is cut out under the dimensions of the centerboard hole. Attach the ends of the bench board rests to the battens on the sides of the dinghy.
• Following a similar pattern, you can install a bench at the stern of the boat.
• Install a frame in the hull to add strength and rigidity to the boat.
• Attach a guard rail to the outer upper side of the dinghy. In addition to protecting the sides, it will add the necessary durability to the hull.
• Separately, from scraps of thin boards and plywood, assemble a mast mount and install it in the bow of the hull.
• Surely you will want to ride oars in this boat. Otherwise, how else to get to the shore in full calm? Put oarlocks!

DIY rigging

Before the final gluing of the sailing boat with fiberglass on the outside and inside, clean it thoroughly, removing all roughness and smudges of resin; otherwise, your final result will have a sloppy appearance.

Set Sail

While the future sailboat with fiberglass dries up, you can start manufacturing the mast, sail, rudder, daggerboard, and oars.

For the mast, take a wooden with a section of 40 x 40 mm. Refine the upper part of the workpiece to a round section. Leave the bottom one as a square. In the upper part, drill a hole for a halyard for raising the sail.

A sail can be made not only from fabric but also from a thick plastic film. It easily breaks around the edges, so it should be surrounded by a strip of durable material. On the upper and lower sides, the pieces should be 60-65 mm wide.

This is so that they could simultaneously serve as pockets for the boom and top rail (they are inserted inside these pockets).

If you choose a sail from fabric, then on the backside, make two lateral pockets in which the armour from 1.5-2 mm plywood will be inserted. Such armour does not allow the rear part of the sail to be wrapped.

Attach the halyard to the middle of the rail. Make it pass through the hole in the mast and the eye (ring) on the stem (pick a ready one or bend it out of 04 mm wire) and place it behind the mast or on the stopper next to it.

Set Sail!

Your sailboat is nearly done! At this point, think about your comfort: what do you think your freshly made dinghy lacks? Customize your dinghy, keeping in mind efficiency and safety factors. Ready? Set sail! Go!

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