Building a wooden jon boat.. pt.1

Yes I know….I can buy 16′ aluminum jon boats all day long.
But I am a builder. I’ve built all types of boats, houses, airplanes, and another 1000 things in my life. I just love to build. So there. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. There is just something about the feel of a wooden boat that is unlike any other. It’s quiet, organic, and friendly. Once you have launched a wooden boat that you have built with your own hands, you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. Many people don’t know how to build a wooden boat, but depending on the style of boat they can be deceptively simple to construct.

I am self taught in boatbuilding. I read books as a young man and then I started out by purchasing a small wooden pram style sailing dingy and I literally modified it to death. Man did I have fun in that little boat! As I grew older I built several boats both for myself and for other folks. The last boat I built was a 31 foot steel hull trawler for a guy who wanted to cruise in her.

The beauty of building your own boat is that you can build it exactly the way that you want it. You can easily modify it and yes it’s usually cheaper than buying a boat. In some cases MUCH cheaper. But don’t let cost be your deciding factor in boat building. The satisfaction of using a boat that you have actually built is reward that is beyond compare.

I am building a 16 foot long jon boat based loosely on Jim Michalak’s “jonsboat” plans. His boat is 48 inches wide and 18 inches deep which is perfectly proportioned, but I wanted deeper and wider so mine is 65 inches wide by 24″ deep. I am making several other changes also based upon my individual needs and I will talk about those as I go along.

How to build a wooden boat

Jim has written a great book called Boatbuilding for Beginners (and Beyond): Everything You Need to Know to Build a Sailboat, a Rowboat, a Motorboat, a Canoe, and More! Inside are a full set of plans for the “jonsboat” design. This book is a perfect first step for anyone interested in learning how to build a wooden boat. I highly recommend it! You can buy it on Amazon here.

I’ll be documenting the build process step by step as I go along. I do work for a living and have many other time killers unfortunately, so be sure to check back here often to see the progress.


In Part 2 of this project I’ll start cutting some wood and gluing up the frames and talking about setting up shop. You can view it here…Part2. Setting Up Shop

How to build a wooden boat







Let’s get to work!

2 thoughts on “Building a wooden jon boat.. pt.1

  • March 13, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    I’m really loving this tutorial on building a wooden jon boat. I’ve always wanted my own wooden boat – I’ve spent the last couple weeks researching and preparing everything I’ll need to do it myself. With regard to building, I’ve found a few good resources during my search including this page, but your piece here goes into great detail about the whole process. Now all that’s left for me is to start taking action. Thanks a ton for this.

  • May 19, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Glad you are enjoying this series! Be careful though, once you build a boat it leads to a dangerous addiction of building yet another boat. (This is my 5th boat.)

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