- Boats made of wood vary in total cost up to $10,000 depending on quality
- It might be difficult to find all the resources and materials needed to get started building
- You will likely need to purchase the right tools for this project
Building a boat out of wood can vary in cost based on multiple factors. So how much does it cost to build a wooden boat?
Building a wooden boat can range in cost from about $3,000 to over $10,000. Complexity of the design, the size of the boat, and other materials used will drive the cost significantly. In addition, labor expenses can skyrocket if you decide to hire a professional to build it.
While it is difficult to pinpoint an exact dollar amount, it is still possible to get a rough estimate. As you will discover with wood, the cost of building a boat can be a cost efficient project.
Cost Breakdown To Build A Wooden Boat
Building your first boat made of wood takes a lot of planning and a bit of capital to work. While this idea and course of action are not as expensive as a fiberglass bass boat, the cost will still need to be budgeted for the boat build.
Depending on the scenario at the time of building, the money needed for this project can vary from one person to the next. Other cost factors that you need to cover include:
- What resources and equipment you currently possess
- The decision to acquire new tools or opt for second hand ones
- Choosing to invest in machinery or checking additional assistance for wood milling
The materials cost is usually a fraction of the overall price if you were to make a boat today, as the cost of building is heavily impacted by labor. Building a boat made out of wood, there will need to be lumber, various types of fasteners (screws, nails, rivets, bolts), sealant or glue, metal fixtures, finish coatings, and paint.
The price of wood will fluctuate based on location and quality of wood. Building a small boat from wood requires quality wood materials, but some people have used other sources like kiln-dried furniture-grade wood or even a military grade plywood. While plywood is a cheaper materials option, it is not the most sought after option long term, as these prices can range from $500 to over $10,000 based on the size of the boat..
If you do not already own the necessary tools, you may need to purchase or rent them. Buying new tools can run up to $10,000 if you are buying top quality ones, whereas gently used tools will greatly reduce the budget to help build your boat.
Renting tools can vary up to $1,000 a day for heavy duty equipment, but luckily you might not need them for a smaller boat. However, these are an example of the basic tools you will need:
- Measuring/marking: sliding bevel, level
- Saws: backsaw, handsaw, hacksaw
- Edging tools: wide and narrow chisel, block plane
- Sharpeners: Fine and coarse stone, strop with honing compound
- Drilling and miscellaneous: Drill with wood bits, hammer, screwdriver, clamps, utility knife, paint brushes, file
Labor for Wooden Boats
If you choose to hire a professional for your first wooden boat, the labor costs must be factored into your budget. As a rule of thumb, imagine whatever the materials cost and double that to find your labor expenses. For example, you should expect to pay up to $5,000 for a small wooden boat, with roughly half of that being labor.
For larger sailboats that are over 30 feet, you are looking around a price of $50,000. It is best to consider building it yourself, or even just the deck, if you have the time and skills.
Design and Plans on a Small Wooden Boat
If you do not have your own design and plans, you may need to purchase them from a designer or architect. For your first boat, it is recommended to have something to follow. These vary up to $50 for a small boat and roughly $150 for wooden sailboats.
Transportation and Storage
If you need to transport the materials or the finished boat to a different location, this will add to your costs. As a result, you could spend a pretty penny just to move and store the boat:
- Transportation: up to $1,000 for small boats and up to $5,000 for large boats.
- Renting a trailer: you could spend up to $200 a day if you do not have an adequate trailer to haul your boat.
- Hire to haul: if you do not want to move it yourself, you can consider hiring a professional to move it. This process can vary up to $300 per hour.
- Storage: storing a boat outdoors can range up to $150 a month. Storing it inside a storage facility could vary up to $500 a month.
What is the Best Wood to Build a Boat?
While fiberglass is a great idea for most modern boats on the water, constructing a vessel made of wood can be a demanding yet fulfilling project. Of course, it is crucial to select the proper variety of wood in order to ensure both durability and aesthetic appeal for your boat, but also keep your budget happy as the cost will rise quickly based on different types of wood.
As mentioned, plywood needs to be further down the list if you can afford other wood materials in this project. While you can save some money on other materials, it would be a good idea to shop around to get the best estimate.
This type of wood is highly sought after in the ship and boatbuilding industry, thanks to its density, hardness and strength. Its ability to hold fastenings, adapt to glue, and maintain its shape and size when exposed to water, make it the perfect choice for framing and main longitudinal timbering. For the money, of course, it is likely going to be one of the more expensive options.
Teak is widely recognized as a premier wood for boat construction, due to its ability to withstand rigorous stress and abuse. If you are making your first wooden boat, teak is a great choice for its natural flexibility that allows for some give, while its density, hardness, and strength make it a durable choice.
Additionally, teak boasts natural properties that inhibit decay and rotting. Teak is still one high cost option, so be prepared to save your money up for this type of quality wood.
Cedarwood is another great option of wood for boat designs due to its unique properties. Not only does it have natural compounds that protect it from rot, repel insects, and inhibit weed growth, but its tight grain pattern, with correct application of glue, also makes it easy to work with.
Among the different types of cedar, Yellow Cedar is known for its exceptional strength and resistance to decay. However, it is important to note that this wood requires more upkeep than others, may lose its original color over time, and can cost you a lot more money due to its durability. Additionally, it has a higher toxicity level than other woods.
If you are in search of suitable wood for building a boat, Ashwood is worth considering. Not only is it known for its resistance to rot, but it also has the ability to be shaped and bent easily, providing more flexibility in terms of design and the possibility to incorporate rounded shapes.
In addition, its strength-to-weight ratio and a budget friendly option make it a desirable choice. However, it should be noted that Ashwood is prone to fading when exposed to sunlight, so touch ups with paint will be needed every so often.
Mahogany is a quality material in the marine industry for crafting boats, as well as marine plywood. This wood boasts a naturally dense and sturdy composition, making it an ideal choice for those looking for a durable and long-lasting option.
Its resistance to rot and decay make it an excellent choice for marine environments. Despite its density and color fading with exposure to sunlight, it is relatively easy to work with by hand or with machinery, and its versatility makes it a popular choice for a variety of uses. It may come with a higher cost and require consistent maintenance to keep it in optimal condition.
Is a Wooden Boat Safe?
Building a small boat out of wood is a safer option to craft, as it eliminates the hazards of inhaling toxic plywood dust or developing allergies to epoxy. Crafting a boat with wood offers the advantage of speed and the opportunity to learn valuable craftsmanship skills.
Precise joint construction and accurate measurements are essential, without the use of any shortcuts or epoxy bodging. As long as the build is of good quality and materials, and you avoided cheap options of course, it should hold up fine for adventures on the water for you and your family.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson