Marine Classics
Marine Classics
Boat Designers
and Builders

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Boat Building

Fibreglass boat building

  Fibreglass (also called GRP  - Glass Reinforced Plastic) is a material composed of  microscopically thin fibres of glass bonded in a plastic resin.
For more information there is a separate page on Fibreglass Boats

Composite boat building

  GRP, wood, and even concrete hulls are technically made of composite materials, but the term "composite" is normally used for plastics reinforced with fibers other than (or in addition to) glass. Historically "composite" referred to a timber skin fastened to iron frames - the 'Cutty Sark' is built like this. It allowed copper anti-fouling to be used without galvanic corrosion of the hull.
 The modern use of the term composite, specifically refers to the use of Kevlar fibre, carbon fibre and other high tech materials. These fibres are bonded together in a plastic resin, usually epoxy or vinylester. The main advantage of these fibres is a high strength to weight ratio. For more information there is a separate page on high tech composite and Carbon Fibre boat building.

Wood epoxy composite

This is a general name for the various methods of building with wood and epoxy. The main ones are cold moulding and strip planking. Strip planking uses strips of wood (often western red cedar) of rectangular section which are glued together at their edges over frames to form the hull. These strips are then covered in fibreglass and/or thin wood veneers set in epoxy resin. For more information there is a separate page on Wood Epoxy Boat Building

Steel Ship and Boat Building

Steel is strong, but heavy. It is by far the most common material for shipbuilding. It is also quite commonly used to build boats bigger than  50ft/15m. However it is not much used for small craft because of weight. As a vessel gets smaller, the hull needs to be thinner if it is not to be too heavy. But there is a limit to how thin steel can be to use on a boat - to allow welding without distortion and to provide some reserve against rust. Any boat smaller than 32ft/10m would be very heavy if made in steel, if a metal hull is required in this size range, aluminium would almost certainly be chosen instead.

Aluminum Boat Building

Aluminium is  comparatively expensive and difficult to weld. It is most commonly used  in working vessels and in small dinghies stamped from a mould. Corrosion can be a concern with aluminium, particularly below the waterline. For more information on Aluminium Boats

Boat Hull Types

Displacement Hulls

These are hulls which typically have a rounded shape which does not allow rising out of the water to skim along it or "plane" They travel through the water at a slow rate which is defined by the waterline length.

Planing hulls

These are hulls with a shape that allows the boat to rise out of the water and skim across it as the speed increases. They are normally  V-bottomed, having a "chine" or corner at the bottom of each side to allow for stability. Planing hulls allow higher speeds than displacement hulls, and are not limited by the waterline length the way displacement hulls are, but they do need significantly  more power.