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Building a bass boat requires skill, a little know-how, and very few tools. Unsurprisingly, it’s your tools that make a boat seaworthy and if you’re looking to build a wooden boat, you need to know which tools are necessary. There are lots of tools to help you succeed and if you need to buy a few extras, they shouldn’t be too expensive to purchase. However, you may want to purchase quality tools to get the most value for money.
So, what tools do you need?
The Different Types of Layout and Measuring Tools Required
It’s likely you’ll hear a lot about ‘square tools’, but surprisingly, they’re not actually square. This causes confusion for many newcomers, especially when they’re laying out the various parts of the boat. Fortunately, once you see the tools in person, you won’t have too much trouble with them.
The purpose of square tools is to ensure all angles match up correctly. A set square helps you to do that. Set squares are important as they ensure your squares are square – if that makes sense.
This is used to check all right angles and ensure they’re in the correct settings. Adjustments can be made to ensure everything is correct.
Levels (as you might’ve guessed,) ensure the frame of the boat is level. If a boat frame isn’t level it could be easier to tip over and cause many more problems. You have to double-check every piece is level, especially when the epoxy is setting.
While a carpenter’s bevel isn’t a necessity, it can be a useful tool to have available on occasion. For instance, if you have to measure the angles or reproduce those angles, the bevel would come in use.
Again, this isn’t a necessity but can be very useful. Compasses can help you measure distances and draw circles from one point to another. This is more necessary if you have a drawing plan or blueprint. So, if you’re working with them, the compass is a necessary tool.
The Different Types of Shaping and Cutting Tools Required
There is a variety of cutting tools available for bass boat construction. Each builder has an individual preference over which tools they use. You could opt for the traditional Western crosscut saw or the Japanese crosscut; however, the Japanese are popular because it’s lighter and slightly faster but replacement blades are required. Western saws are very popular too and can offer a larger cut base to make this process more effective. However, no matter which you choose, you have to ensure a sharp saw is utilized during the building stage.
While the Japanese crosscut saw is an impressive choice, the Western has a slight advantage as it offers a slightly more accurate cut and is easier to control too. This is an important tool for building a boat. What’s more, it’s useful for cutting dovetails, tenons, mortise, and other joints.
Cutting plywood is made easier with a jigsaw and is an essential tool for boat builders everywhere. You can get a straight line cut and is easy to use also – as long as safety guidelines are followed. However, you need to ensure the right saw blades are used for each stage of the boat building process. For instance, plywood may be better cut with a metal blade because it offers a smoother finish. This isn’t an inexpensive tool but can be worth its weight in gold.
Some old-school builders won’t look to a modern belt sander, yet, it’s an important tool to have at your side. Belt sanders are quick and easy to use. Sanding by hand is fine too but can be hard work and it’s time-consuming as well. Of course, the choice is yours. If, however, you’re choosing a belt sander, ensure it’s a quality piece to get the best results from it.
While a scraper isn’t a necessary tool to buy, it’s useful on occasion. For example, if you need to remove uneven spots or epoxy drips, the scraper could easily do so. It’ll save you from having to sand the materials down or starting again. Scraper tools come with a carbide blade and can be very effective.
Chisels are the most simplistic tools boat builders will need but they do come in use. You’ll probably use them a handful of times but will do most of the hard work for you. A one-inch chisel and half an inch chisel may be sufficient for you.
Ideally, you want to have a smoothing plane and a block plane. The block plane is a smaller tool and will be able to deal with rounding edges out, shaving off timber, and making minor adjustments. Smoothing planes are larger and will taper boards or smooth out the wood. Both are useful during boat construction; however, you must ensure the planes are sharp and in good shape so that you get an even finish.
The spokeshave is a wood shaping tool. It can be used on a variety of woodwork projects, including chair legs, bows and arrows, wheel spokes, and more. It’s easy to use and an inexpensive tool.
Generally, if you’re going to build a straightforward wooden boat, it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about sharp scissors. However, if you want to incorporate fiberglass into the boat, scissors will be required. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot on these as they can be worn away with epoxy so there’s no need to invest big with scissors.
Building a boat takes patients, skill, and the right tools. One of the most important tools to have is a drill and drill bits. Drill bits cut holes into materials and are quite versatile as they come in lots of different shapes and sizes. They can be used to create holes in a variety of materials including wood, metal, and fiberglass.
Most people use any screwdriver they can lay their hands on to tighten screws but that’s not always right. It’s essential to match the screw with the appropriate screwdriver. For instance, if you’re using a star-shaped screw, a Phillips screwdriver should be used to tighten it. If it’s a flat screw, a flathead screwdriver should be used. This helps to prevent damage to the screws.
Useful and necessary, the claw hammer will hammer in or pull nails out. It’s a simple tool to have and one which will come in use at the best of times.
For stitch and glue plywood boat construction, a good pair of pliers is necessary. You can do a lot with these, including twisting and cutting wire, along with general use. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend big bucks on a reliable pair.
When you’re building a boat, you’ll need clamps – lots of them. You should stock up on clamps as much as you can because they’re widely used. You will need clamps in various stages of the building process. You could use pipe clamps if you want to make a mast and there are many to choose from. Handmade clamps can also be used and they don’t cost a lot of money either. However, no matter which clamps are chosen, oil them so that you can clean them easier.
Additional Tools for Wood Boat Building
There are many other tools needed for building a wooden boat, including mixing containers, spreaders and spatulas, paint rollers, squeegees, sandpaper, and paintbrushes. Most of these are easy to pick up at a local home improvement store or online. These are also not too expensive to buy.
Safety Equipment You Will Need
There are a few pieces of safety gear and equipment you need while building a boat.
- Vinyl Gloves: Gloves are necessary to protect your hands and skin from the dangers of wood splinters and epoxy. Vinyl gloves are important, especially when epoxy is involved. Remember, epoxy contains chemicals and that may cause problems for those with sensitive skin and allergies. It’s essential to get good protective gloves that are easy to pick up and don’t cost a lot of money either. Epoxy poses a risk and you may even need to wear a mask to avoid vapors too.
- Chemical-Resistant Gloves: Depending on the type of skin you have, you may need chemical-resistant gloves. Nitrile gloves may be necessary. These gloves can be useful when you want to paint the boat.
- A Mask or Respirator: Whether you’re sanding or painting, you need adequate protection. A respirator could be used when dealing with chemicals and a dust mask for sanding. There are lots of different types of masks to choose from so you can find one that’s more suitable for you.
- Eye Goggles: Cutting, sanding, and drilling can send bits of materials everywhere and if your eyes are not protected, you could damage them. Goggles will protect the eyes against flying debris and should not be forgotten.
- Protection for Your Ears: Sawing, sanding, drilling, and cutting are loud and, potentially, may damage your eardrums. To prevent this, ear muffs or plugs can be used. There are lots of ear protection solutions available and you should choose one that suits your needs best. They’re not too expensive and can be reused also.
The Non-Essential Bass Boat Building Tools
There are some tools that are useful to have but are technically non-essential items. Having them available might be wise if only to make your efforts slightly easier.
Need to cut timber to size? There’s nothing quicker or easier than a table saw. You can cut angles and trim wood with the table saw. You can do a lot with them and they’re valuable tools to have. Of course, if you’re getting the wood cut to size at the lumber yard then it isn’t as necessary as if you were doing all the wood cutting yourself.
This can be useful if you want to mill the wood. You choose the thickness of the wood and the rest is done for you. Thickness planers aren’t always necessary but it depends on the type of project you’re getting involved in.
Routers are useful before they’re easy to use and can finish wood pieces well. You can create scarf joints, round edges, cut tenons and mortises, and much more. When buying a router table, read some reviews first. A Bosch benchtop router table review might enable you to find the best for your next project.
Building a boat takes a lot of hard work and effort. While it seems as though you need lots of specialized tools, it’s not as difficult or as costly as it appears. It’s incredibly easy to get into boat building – with a little know-how, of course. Fortunately, there are lots of affordable tool kits you can buy that has many of the tools listed above. Beginners looking at bass boat building will find it easier with the right tools behind them.
I am Aubrey D. Rodriguez. I am 40 years old. I am working as a pond hopper boat specialist last 20 years. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions.
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