Hand Tools for Boat Building. . .

This section of the website is not to tell our clients what tools they should or shouldn't have, its is simply a guide to show prospective builders what type of handtools shipwrights like to have in their toolbox. For a more general explanation of the tools of boat building there is already very many good publications available. In the article below we also explain why some handtools are better than others for their required purpose. We have not bothered to include the standard tools such as hammers, chisels screwdrivers, pliers etc as I'm sure if you're about to build a boat you will already own these tools and know how to use them.

The first advice I would like to offer is to remind builders that safety whilst boat building is a prime objective. To that end it is very wise to protect ones ears with a quality set of ear muffs or as many builders do, wear an insertable pair of soft earplugs, available from the chemist. Always wear safety glasses or a face shield when using any power tools, eyes are irreplaceable and you will need them to steer your new boat.
Soft gloves are also recommended as well as a large supply of disposable plastic gloves for working with resin. To protect your lungs I thoroughly recommend the Sundstrom brand of face masks. They have a large replaceable filter and you can even attach carbon filters for spray painting. Available at Panel supply shops. Remember to replace filter cartridges at least weekly.
A lot has been written about fairing boards and how to make them. I would like to offer that it is much easier and usually more productive to purchase a couple of Velcro hook back, fairing boards from 3M. With the new e-series vessels the planking is usually very fair right from the outset therefore the old 6ft long two handed torture boards are simply not needed. These two boards pictured have been used to fair two boats. Australian made velcro backed 40grit sandpaper is the paper to use.
For fairing and sanding in carved areas like beside the wingdeck stringers etc. We use fairing blocks carved from a piece of high density foam, any shape can be made to suit the job in hand. The best power tool for this job would be an oscillating orbital sander such as those made by Festo or Dewalt.
A quick note on sliding clamps, many builders will own the old fashioned G clamps as has been used for centuries. A much better clamp for building are the sliding sash clamp style. They are very inexpensive and in most sheds its impossible to have too many of them. Used for a miriad of purposes in clamping various components whilst waiting for your glue to dry. At least twenty of various sizes would be useful.
It is very important that vessel construction is begun with a high quality level. If your existing level is not within 1 millimetre accuracy then ditch it and buy a new Stabila 1200 long level. The 1800 long model though expensive is excellent for leveling frames and other flat panels. The budget handy man models are not suitable for boat building. A short 600mm is also handy.

A few items to the left that shipwrights find useful. Top a 1000mm steel ruler, excellent for measuring, marking and scribing.
Middle a medium size steel carpenters square, used for keeping everthing at 90 Degrees. Three the smaller square is useful for those harder to get at spaces.


A small block plane is useful for working with the Composite panels, it is generally easier to use than a normal carpenters hand plane. however the carpenter's plane is the one to use when working with timber trim in the final fitout. A quick note the block plane is also great for putting an Arise on Perpex when you come to the window stage..

The pages below relate to the newer range of steel fastners and self drilling screws.
To the left are self drilling coach srews with either a hex or an allen key head. These heavy duty fastners are great for constructing the Strongback. They have the advantage of self drilling as well as being able to be driven with a battery drill or screw (tek) gun.

To the left you will see a picture of our preferred fastns for construction. They have a phillips no2 star head and a smooth shank with sharp threads and a needle point. The one third smooothshank is excellent for clamping purposes as the screw pulls up hard on the substrate without the top thread acting to seperate the top panels being joined. This type of screw will hold well into the foam cores of duflex as well as being a good MDF screw. Often sold as plasterer's drywall screws in various lengths.
Screws to the left are another type of needle point screw available. There is a huge variety of this type of screw now available. Try and avoid the very cheap screws as the heads twist off on a regular basis its often very hard to dig out the steel shank. Never leave any of these screws buried anywhere in your boat construction. If that's absolutely necessary and it shouldnt be, then use a stainless steel variety
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