Building Boats

by thrandur

Building Boats

Building boats is an art and a science. You begin with making goals for the design. Answering questions
about the size and shape and intended use, how it will handle in the water etc. etc.

Boat Building Materials

Until the mid 19th century all boats were of natural materials,primarily wood. As the forests of Britain and Europe continued to be over-harvested to supply the keels of larger wooden boats and the Industrial Revolution cheapened the cost of steel, the age of the steel ship began. In the mid 20th century aluminum gained popularity, being lighter and easier to work with than steel. Around the mid 1960s, boats made out of glass-reinforced plastic, more commonly known as fiberglass, became popular, especially for recreational boats. The coast guard refers to such boats as ‘FRP’ (for Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) boats. Fiberglass boats are extremely strong, and do not rust, corrode, or rot.

Fiberglass provides structural strength, especially when long woven strands are laid, sometimes from bow to stern, and then soaked in epoxy (i.e., plastic) to form the hull of the boat. One of the disadvantages of fiberglass is that it is heavy and to alleviate this, various lighter components can be incorporated into the design. One of the more common methods is to use cored fiberglass, with the core being balsa wood completely encased in fiberglass. While this works, the addition of wood makes the structure of the boat susceptible to rotting. Similarly, ‘advanced composites’ are simply other methods designed to introduce less expensive and, by some claims, less structurally sound materials.

Today, many people make their own boats or watercraft out of materials such as styrofoam or plastic.

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