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Wooden Boat Builders - Modern style

The factor separating modern wooden boatbuilders from traditional is the structural use of adhesives to fasten the hull in modern boatbuilding. Traditional boat building uses mechanical fastenings eg nails, screws, or even lacings in ancient boats.

Hot Moulding  - this was an evolution from the traditional double diagonal construction described on the tradional wooden boat building page. But instead of the planks being held by thousands of small rivets, they are glued together. The glue used needed to be set under heat and pressure hence the name of the process. It first became widespread during world war 2, and lasted up until the 1960's. It then became obsolete because of the development of newer better adhesives. These newer adhesives do not need heat and pressure to make them set, allowing the development of  the cold moulding process.

Cold Moulding - is the process of building up several layers or laminations of thin wood planks in a resin adhesive. It has several advantages over traditional wood and fiberglass constructions. Cold molded boats have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio and are very rigid. They are covered with fiberglass cloth below the waterline for additional protection against impact with floating objects. Another advantage, especially in warmer waters, is that the epoxy makes the hull impenetrable for worms and other pests that bore into wood. Epoxy resin is immune to osmosis which plagues fibreglass boats.
Cold molding combines the advantages of fiberglass and wooden boats: low maintenance, high strength and the warm look and feel of a traditional craft. They also tend to be  safer, and more resistant to fatigue As the wood is fully covered in epoxy and clear-coat, no yearly varnishing is required, contrary to traditional wooden boats.  

Wooden boat building has seen a great renewal of interest in the past decade or two. There are several reasons for this, some of the principal ones are;
  • Modern coatings drastically reduce the maintenance required
  • Wooden boats are becoming rarer
  • Lots of fibreglass boats means that wooden ones stand out
  • Wood is the only boatbuilding material which eco sustainable
  • Wood is warm to the touch - it provides excellent insulation, both thermal and sound
  • Wooden boats are more attractive and interesting than plastic or metal ones
  • Wood is the best method of building individual/one off boats under about 50ft/15m.
  • Wood is, perhaps surprisingly, stronger and stiffer than fibreglass weight for weight. It is very close to carbon fibre. But can take much more punishment. See below.
Wood epoxy composite is around 1/3rd the density of fibreglass. So a wood/epoxy composite 15mm thick weighs about the same as  fibreglass 5mm thick. But because the composite  is 3 times thicker - in a 2 dimensional panel like a boat hull it is 3x3=9 times stiffer.

Epoxy Resin

  Epoxy is a type of clear adhesive which is very strong and waterproof. It is the adhesive used to bond high tech materials like carbon fibre, so is essential in the production of formula 1 cars, aircraft, space shuttle etc. It can also be aplied as a surface treatment. Several layers of epoxy  seal the wood and as a result the wood becomes stable and impenetrable to moisture or rot. The epoxy resin is made by mixing two liquids together in situ, which starts a chemical reaction producing the solid epoxy. It's main advantages over older technology glues are that is sticks much stronger and is more waterproof.

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