Whether you want to build boats to earn a living or are just expressing yourself through a hobby, you need a dedicated place to work. Thanks to modern technology, it is relatively easy to create and equip your boatbuilding workshop without much hassle.
While you can get as elaborate as you desire, there are really only 4 things to consider when designing a basic shop. None of the 4 are costly and all can be arranged quickly.
#1 – Space
Keep in mind that you and the finished boat need to fit into whatever space you create. What’s more, you will have to have room to move around the boat as you loft, cut and assemble the pieces.
One meter [3 feet] around the perimeter of the boat should give you the necessary elbowroom. You could feasibly work with less room, but it would most likely be cramped and uncomfortable.
#2 – Tools
The tools you equip your workshop with will depend 100% on your preferences and your wallet. You could cut and assemble the parts using nothing more than a handsaw, screwdriver and a manual drill. Needless to say, that will take more time and be a good deal more energy. Power tools would work best.
An electric jigsaw and a power drill should be all you require. Besides the tools, you will also need a measuring tape, pencil and some things (plastic spoons, for instance) that make working with epoxy and fiberglass easier.
#3 – Electricity
The use of power tools dictates the need for power. There are 3 common ways to rig your shop for electricity. (1) You can go all out and run dedicated electrical outlets to your shop. (2) You can drag heavy-duty electrical cords from your house/garage to your workshop. (3) You can use a gas-powered generator to provide electricity. Number 2 will be the more simple and affordable option.
#4 – Temperature
The only part of the boatbuilding process that is temperature sensitive is the epoxy phase. You, on the other hand, will be sensitive to temperatures all year long. For instance, if you choose to construct a temporary building that has no insulation, summer months will be sweltering as the heat builds within your walls. In addition, wintertime will be frigid with no way to keep your hands warm. (Wearing thick outdoor gloves will not be a good idea while working on a boat.) Fans and/or space heaters can be used to regulate temperatures when the climate is extreme.
Keep in mind that the temperature for epoxy use must be higher than 5°C [41°F].
If you are unable to keep your workspace comfortable for you and the epoxy, schedule your project around the seasons. You can start building in winter when the temperatures are much cooler. Plan your lofting and cutting of the pieces for spring. Next, assemble the pieces and do your gluing, taping and epoxy application during summer. You should be ready to launch your new boat by fall.
Whether temporary or permanent, creating a boatbuilding workshop is a necessary first step when taking on this type of project. Using these simple steps, you can easily develop a suitable place for constructing your boat and enjoy the fruit of your labor for years to come.
Happy boat building,
Morten Olesen, Master Boat Builder and Naval Architect