Introduction: The BO-AT Single Sheet Plywood Boat

Picture of The BO-AT Single Sheet Plywood Boat

My son and I built this simple one sheet plywood boat following the plans and sage advice provided in the following link  We saw this in a recent eNews from Make Magazine.  This is Not our design but I wanted to share what we learned.  This was a simple and fun project to build and cost us a grand total of $59 dollars and about 6 hours (not counting Beer and Juice Boxes).

Step 1: Shopping for Material

Picture of Shopping for Material
We went to our local hardware store and purchased the following supplies:

1 Sheet of 4x8 15/32 Plywood Sheet
Gorilla Glue
Silicone Sealant
Latex Paint
Sand Paper

Depending on the size of your workshop and the tools available to you, you may decide to have the store cut the 4x8 sheet of plywood for you (as we did) - just make sure they cut it right (as we did not) - it will save you trimming and increase you freeboard later on.

Tools Used:

Jig Saw
Caulk Gun
Screw Gun
Paint Brush

Step 2: Cutting Out the Parts

Picture of Cutting Out the Parts
In the video link for the first page you can see how to cut out the various parts for the boat.  You will need to make the following cuts:

1 - 24 inch by 96 inch sheet for bottom, bow and stern - this part we further cut into three parts:

1 - 18 inch by 24 inch part for the bow
1 - 12 inch by 24 inch part for the stern
1 - 24 inch by 66 inch part for the bottom

2 - 12 inch by 96 inch sheets for the sides - will be further cut to match the angle of the bow while assembling

3 - 1 inch by 2 inch by 8ft boards for supports - cut to size

1 - 1 inch by 3 inch by 8ft board for trim on bow and stern

2 - 1 inch by 2 inch by 8ft boards for deck - cut into 24 inch planks and then threaded with 550 paracord for deck

Step 3: Assembling the Boat

Picture of Assembling the Boat
Once all the parts have been cut to size, the assemble quite quickly.  In the video they recommend that you glue and use brads to hold the boat together.  I used screws instead but think the brads would work a bit better as you would not need to pre-drill the holes as I did to keep the screws from splitting the wood.  I only used the screws because I was too lazy to drag out my air compressor!

I began by attaching one side to the bottom first.  After this I attached the stern and here is the order I followed (not sure it matters but this was the way I did it):
  1. Left side to Bottom
  2. Stern to bottom and Left side
  3. Right side to bottom and stern
  4. Bow to Bottom and both sides
  5. I then used trim (1 x 2) at all the joints to give me something to screw into
For each part attached, I used the Gorilla Glue and then clamped and screwed together.  Having a second set of hands is great for helping to flip the boat over and back several times as you build it.  It also comes in very handy (pun intended) to fetch and open the Beer.

The last items I attached were the 1x3 trim parts on top of the box and stern - these were added as much for looks as for an easy hand hold for carrying.

I also made a change to the seat design that he had used on his boat.  Because my son is about 100 pounds lighter than I, our ballast in the boat needs to be arranged in a much different manner.  He can sit much farther back than I without taking on any water in the stern.  For this reason I used the 1 x 2 boards strung together and laid in the base of the boat on the 1 x 2 rails.  We can slide this front to back without any issue.  I also was not comfortable with how high his seat sat and feared it would create a too-high center of gravity in an already wobbly boat.

Step 4: Sanding, Sealing & Painting

Picture of Sanding, Sealing & Painting

Once assembled, the next step is to sand the boat to a nice smooth finish.  We tried to round out all the edges somewhat to keep from scraping any body parts while on the water.

After we had a nicely sanded boat, we went a bit wild with the Silicone Sealant.  This is not a bad thing as this is basically what keeps the water outside your boat and you dry.  I gave the Silicone a good 24 hours to dry before I applied any paint.

After the Silicone has dried, you are ready to paint the boat.  I used a Valspar Latex Enamel paint.  We applied three coats to the outside surfaces of the boat (green in pictures) and two coats to the inside surfaces (tan in pictures).  between each coat I waited the recommended time for drying and sanded lightly.

Now that I have had it in the water, I will put another coat on at the water level for some added protection.

One thing to note is that paint does not adhere well to Silicone so where ever your sealant is, your paint will not look very good.  This is more cosmetic than a problem. 

Step 5: Maiden Voyage

Picture of Maiden Voyage

Pick a nice and sunny day on a not so leach infested lake (this is Gropps Lake in NJ) and head out.

As you can see from the pictures, the boat does okay.  It is by no means a speed boat or a stable boat but it is fun and it can displace quite a bit of water (held about 400 pounds and still had just over an inch of freeboard).

This is a much better boat for someone my son's size and handled quite well.  When I got in and my cousin, things went a bit wobbly but were still enjoyable.  When we both got in we were having flash backs of the Titanic!

My next test will include a very small electric trolling motor for some fun.

This was just a fun project to do and I thank Make Magazine and Derek “Deek” Diedricksen for posting it.

Step 6: Motor Test

Picture of Motor Test

I should title this part Load Test because I never got to try the motor - bad battery.

I will update after I get a new one.  Also need to trim the top board back by the stern to fit the motor bracket.  I had to remove the board to fit the motor.


David Bachrach made it! (author)2016-04-08

3 pieces of 3/4 in plywood 10 1/2 feet long 4 feet wide...this is the second I've made in the last 3 years...only took 6 hours

David, what's with the lawnmower engine? Outboard? Curious!

Yes i made a engine and its battery free

would love to see some pictures of that engine! I have a spare honda from a push mower that I'd like to use for an outboard but don't have any ideas about the "leg" other than finding an old donor outboard.

PaleoDan (author)David Bachrach2016-04-09

David - Love it! This year I plan to scale up as well and am playing with a new design with some built in flotation. What are you sealing your boat with?

David Bachrach (author)PaleoDan2017-11-03

Silicone and nails and tompsons water seal.

mischivious_pixie (author)2015-11-09

cool, i plan on making one for a school project. do you think you could add a sail?

Yes, just add a center support

AlM47 (author)mischivious_pixie2016-08-30

A sailboat would need a rudder too. To be strong and safe a center board and rudder are more complicated than this hull. The sail can get you out in the offing and you can sink like theTitanic if the whole contraption isn't made well = take it easy :-)

I am not sure how big of a sail you could put on this. You would need to add a real keel I would think. Maybe a small square rigged sail would work.

ThomasB245 (author)2016-05-21

I live in an area of the UK with fairly rough seas, and need a way to increase stability without a large keel (as I need to get it up a boat ramp)

PaleoDan (author)ThomasB2452016-05-26

I would really love to see a picture of it. What about outriggers hanging off each side? Build up two thinner but slightly longer "boxes" and seal them well so they are buoyant...

Love the tea idea too, nice relaxing way to spend the day.

ThomasB245 (author)ThomasB2452016-05-21

Btw I made it 5 metres long and 1.5 metres wide. With a 5hp mower engine

ThomasB245 (author)ThomasB2452016-05-21

A butane stove for making tea and a parfin lamp for lighting

David Bachrach (author)2016-04-11

I will be adding a sail in 2 weeks...waiting for paycheck

David Bachrach (author)2016-04-09

I sealed it with silicone between sheets...on the wood first Thomsons water seal...then I'm putting fiberglass just to seal....I'm in FL in area where there is sharks so I'm beefing it up some...I put runners on bottom to help reduce tipping and make it stronger.

mischivious_pixie (author)2015-11-18

you could try to attach a centerboard so it's harder to flip

telmore1 made it! (author)2015-04-25

this instructable
is awsome I use it to go up and down are streams and river

jerbear1978 (author)2011-07-24

Would you need to register this for use in public waters?

tonroh17 (author)jerbear19782014-02-26

that depends on the size on the engine you put on it

mharris17 (author)jerbear19782011-08-31

In most states a row boat does not need to be registered. But if you attach a motor, then both the boat and motor have to be registered. Check with you fish and game office.

PaleoDan (author)jerbear19782011-07-24

You will need to check your local regulations but I think for NJ, you only need to register boats larger than 13 feet or as soon as you put the motor on. That is why the Motor test was in my pool.

misterpittsburgh (author)2013-06-22

Just so you know in some states adding a trolling motor means that the boat needs registered. People should check their local laws first if they plan on using this on public property.

yeah, but not in Australia! LOL!

steve000 (author)tonroh172014-01-23

Im a big guy, This could easily be scaled up to support more weight. I calculated 120cm 4ft wide, 195cm 6.5long + the boom would displace about 800kg of water. 2 adults of any size could fit in it and although it would be heavier it could still be moved around with little ease. Perfect for your local creek or farm dam.

bigger = more space for the esky, sunshade, comfy chair and maybe even a battery drill trolling motor

PaleoDan (author)steve0002014-01-24

Agreed - this could definitely be scaled up, just adding in a second sheet of plywood to the materials list would give you much more to work with. If you work it out, send me some pictures. I like the sunshade idea...

steve000 (author)PaleoDan2014-01-27

I wont build it for a good 18months but I will be sure to update you. The sunshade and a comfy seat allows me to head out to the dam on an afternoon with esky in hand and have a snooze for a couple of hours.

psyduck12345 (author)2013-11-12

i just found this project yesterday and im about half way done its actually really simple

dm957 (author)2013-04-11

Is this the exact same boat as deek made? Like with the dimentions and all?

PaleoDan (author)dm9572013-04-12

As close as I could make it from the video. I added a few things but mostly this is his boat.

LucDaRocka1 (author)2012-12-02

how much did it cost all together? =D

PaleoDan (author)LucDaRocka12012-12-03

It's been a while since I put it together but it was not too much. A single sheet of plywood and depending on what you already have, nails, silicon and paint. I think I was under $50 for the project.

LucDaRocka1 (author)PaleoDan2012-12-06

Sweet! Thanks Alot!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PaleoDan (author)PaleoDan2012-12-03

$59 I just looked at my material list again.

smiley G.I JOE (author)2012-10-18

if i just make the length measurement longer when buying supplies say '3-4' feet more could i mount a sail on it. a small one but able to speed me up.

PaleoDan (author)smiley G.I JOE2012-12-03

I think you would need to also add a real keel if you area adding a sail. This boat is not very stable and a sail might be the tipping point but I would love to see what it would look like. Post a picture if you build it.

Good luck

ClandestineIntestine (author)2012-09-07

I built one!
I don't have any pics handy, though. It was a fun build and my first boat. I'm hooked. I'm fast running out of boating/building time as it is getting really close to winter. (Alaskan)

I flubbed my measurements, and the boat ended up being about 2 feet shorter than I had planned. But it Floats! It doesn't leak! Some water did slop over the side since it only has about 3 inches of freeboard.

Oh well, build and learn.
Thanks for the great instructable.

I am glad it worked out for you. I am planning a two sheet build to see if I can make a more realistic (functioning) boat next spring.

Hope your winter does not get too bad this year.

calebgeb (author)2012-09-09

you are awesome

tjeweler (author)2012-08-28

Would an outrigger help to stabilize the boat, so it isn't so wobbly?

PaleoDan (author)tjeweler2012-08-29

It might but the design of the boat itself is limiting. This was my first try and I have since seen other versions that look to be much more stable. I might try one of those first. This was a great fun project but did not produce much more than a pool toy or tiny pond boat.

707z123456 (author)2012-07-28

how wide is the inside?

charlessenf-gm (author)2011-07-25

Prime (oil-based exterior primer) "finish cut" boards first. Then paint two coats of finish paint color. Then assemble and caulk with Silicone sealer or, better yet DuPont 5200 (comes in white only as far as I know). Sealer will adhere to paint, paint does not adhere readily to most silicone sealers.

Seal exterior of seams first and foremost - sealer is to keep water out. Sealing interior joints can't hurt, of course.

If you add sealer (esp DuPont 5200) to joints before assembling (use as a "glue" as well as a sealer, you will seal exterior and interior simultaneously.

Those were very good suggestions except that there seems to be no such thing as Dupont 5200. If I do a search on it, all I come up with is stone counter sealers, which don't seem like the right kind needed here.

That's because 5200 is made by 3M. It's used a lot in the marine industry and can be used under the waterline. It's an extremely tenacious sealer/adhesive that should only be used on things that you would rather throw away that have to take apart.

It's also very expensive, About $20 a tube. PL Premium would be a better choice than even silcone. I saw Deek's video on building this boat and I wondered why he would use silicone. Then I remembered, He is a Tiny house builder.

Silicone is for doors and windows, Not boats. It's a sealer, not an adhesive.
Wooden Boat magazine used to sponsor an annual family boat building event where the contestants (A parent/ child team) had to take a bunch of precut pieces and build a boat then put it in the water and hopefully not sink.

They were not allowed any fasteners. Only PL Premium.

It's available at the Big Orange Place for less than 5 bucks a tube. But read the labels and test for your self since there are different formulations. I'm pretty sure this is the one I used to glue the skin to the frame of my Hollow Wooden Surfboard (Instructable coming soon.)

Ok. It's less than 6 bucks a tube.

tomgrayb17 (author)2012-02-03

what angle do you cut the bow side of the sideboards at?

PaleoDan (author)tomgrayb172012-02-07

It's about 80 inches long

PaleoDan (author)tomgrayb172012-02-05

It's about a 45 degree angle. It is easy to use one of those plastic orange angle square to prop it up then draw your lines. Post pictures when you done please.

tomgrayb17 (author)PaleoDan2012-02-06

what is the overall length, bow to stern?

About This Instructable



Bio: I am happily married with one son, two dogs, a ball python, Russian tortoise, and many fish. I like to fossil hunt, all things Jeep ... More »
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