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5 Professional Boatbuilding Shortcuts that Donít Sacrifice Quality

By Morten Olesen © 2012, All Rights Reserved

Anticipation is the enemy of many boat builders. From novices to experienced pros, the excitement of finally sailing the vessel they've been building for weeks or months can get the best of them. This can lead to making mistakes that might impede their success.

But there are ways to cut some time from your construction schedule without hampering the end results. As a matter of fact, I have 5 shortcuts that will let you finish your project earlier than you thought, without causing any heartache.

Shortcut #1 - Minimal Space for Maximum Efficiency

Bigger is not always better. This holds true when it comes to boatbuilding workshops. While the tendency is to create a workplace that is large and sprawling, just the opposite can be what you actually need.

Unless you plan on building boats on a regular basis, you can follow in the footsteps of those who've gone before you and create a small workshop. A garage or shed, a tent, some PVC pipe with tarps draped over itÖ all are standards when it comes to boat work areas. All you really need is enough space for the finished boat, plus a few feet around the perimeter for walking, working and moving about.

Shortcut #2 - Plastic Makes the Best Fillets

Sure, there is a special tool for making fillets, but it requires some getting used to. In addition, you'll need some patience while you're mastering the art of fillet making. One of my favorite shortcuts involves using plain old plastic spoons to make fillets.

Use the back of the spoon to make the curved shape of your fillet. Plastic spoons are sturdy enough to handle the thick epoxy, durable enough to stand up to the resin without dissolving and make cleanup easier than you could imagine.

Shortcut #3 - Disposable Lofting Is Smart

Once you start transferring the dimensions from your boat plans to the plywood, you'll want to make sure you stay neat, clean and organized. Getting measurements mixed up or forgetting whether you've already transferred some measurements can lead to disaster.

Buying downloadable boat plans is the way to go. Once one set gets cluttered with notes and markings, simply throw it away and print a clean set. Nothing could be easier.

Shortcut #4 - Know What Could Go Wrong, So You Can Do It Right

When building a boat, you should always be looking ahead. Read instructions (such as those for the epoxy you'll use), go through processes (like fillet making) mentally or actually try it on scrap wood. These save you time in the long run because they allow you to encounter the hazards that might happen before you actually begin attempting the steps on your boat.

Shortcut #5 - Check Your Temperature

Many problems with epoxy are due to having an incorrect temperature in your workspace. You'll want your workshop to maintain a constant temperature between 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). This way, most epoxy products will work as they should.

If need be, plan the phases of your boatbuilding project so your use of epoxy will fall during seasons that have temperature ranges compatible with the product you're using.

By implementing these 5 shortcuts, you'll find you can shave a bit of time off of the total project. That means you can set sail sooner with full confidence that you've built a top-quality vessel.

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Morten Olesen, Naval Architect/Owner - Hyldvej 1A - DK-4540 Farevejle - Denmark

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