Plywood Boat Construction: Is it Right for You?

For newbie, it is common discussion that what is plywood and how is use it for wooden boat. For expert, they always discuss of the many advantages and some of the disadvantages of using plywood for wooden boat construction.

In days of old, building a boat was a time consuming and artistic endeavor. Today, however, plywood boat construction has revolutionized the boat building industry. Some still stick to the older methods of carvel boat building and other similar forms wood plank boat construction. Others, however, have enthusiastically embraced plywood boat building for many of the reasons outlined below.

Why should you use plywood boat construction?

There are many reasons that some boat builders have embraced plywood for boat construction. For one, plywood tends to be more dimensionally stable than wood plank boat construction, meaning that it shrinks and expands less during temperature and humidity changes. This allows you to do things with plywood that you cannot do with ordinary plank construction, such as glue panels together.

Plywood is also fairly cheap when compared to wood plank construction. Plywood sheets can range in cost depending on the quality and type you are using, but the end expense will still be considerably less if you are using plywood construction.

Plywood boat plans also tend to be quite easy to follow, and you can have a boat constructed using some plans in a matter of weeks instead of months (or even years) for more complicated traditional boat building methods. This is especially true if you are using glue and stitch plywood boat plans. Ply on frame plywood construction can take longer than glue and stitch, but it is still much quicker than most forms of plank boat construction.

Plywood also tends to be very uniform in nature, meaning that less time is be spent fixing and selecting the wood to be used in a boat building project. It is also very light, making it easy to lift, modify and use in boat construction. Finally, plywood has excellent flotation abilities which, of course, is essential for any wood being used in boat construction.

Because of all of these advantages, plywood boat construction is rapidly becoming the favorite teaching method of most boat building schools and academies. It is a method of construction easy for beginners to learn, and it is also well suited to a wide range of different wooden boat types. However, there are also a few reasons why plywood may not be the ideal boat building material for you or your project.

Why should you not use plywood for boat construction?

There are a few downsides to using plywood in boat construction. For one, it needs to be sealed very well, otherwise it is prone to rot (and often it will rot quite quickly). Fortunately, this is accomplished easily using epoxy or a similar sealant. However, plywood does not have the natural rot resistant qualities of many hardwoods.

There is also quite a bit of changes currently undergoing in the plywood industry, and plywood standards appear to be shifting, making plywood selection sometimes challenging. It used to be that plywood boat builders had two main choices: either use marine quality plywood or regular plywood. In recent years, however, the quality of marine quality plywood has declined, and other types of plywood (many relying on hardwoods) are becoming more popular for boat building.

Finally, for some, plywood does not have the aesthetic beauty to it as wood planks construction. If you are looking to recreate the boat building experience of past centuries, you will likely be more happy using traditional boat building construction.