How to choose what type of boat to build?
For those of you who have very little to no experience with boat building plans or the craft of building any type of vessel then starting out with a little dinghy should be your first choice. This is a vital first step for most builders as it will allow you to take on a project that is realistic and relatively easy. One of the most common reasons why hobbyists give up during the learning curve of their first project is due to the poor choice in what it is they are building or trying to achieve. Frustration or boredom sets in very quickly when the number of mistakes made far outweighs instances where good progress has been made. Therefore building a small dinghy might not be the most exciting project you have ever embarked upon, but it will have a very high rate of success with little chance of you giving up somewhere along the line.
However if your skill level is not the deciding factor when deciding what type of vessel you are going to build then the choice will be based on what purpose or use the boat is going to achieve. A sailing boat is best suited for recreational lake users with a relatively small sized motor and the size is dependant upon how many people you think might usually sail at any one time. A bigger motor will be required for river use as currents exert a greater force of resistance than calmer waters. On the other hand if fishing is your main objective then you will need to include practical design features such as a designated area for casting your rod and a place where you can store the fish at freezing temperatures to retain freshness.
Boat building plans are important
The more experienced woodworking individual might like to build a medium to large sized sailing or fishing boat, in which case there will be a need for boat building plans that you can understand and use effectively. The plans are just as important as the woodworking tools you will be using and the lumber that you will need to source from a lumberyard. Failure to correctly interpret the drawings and dimensions often results in setbacks and ultimately becomes a waste of resources. Reading the boat building plans can be a hard skill to master for some, if this is a problem for you then invest in yourself by taking an evening class or read a couple of books on the subject. For those of you who think this is too much work or hassle remember this, the more tools and expertise you have the more options you have at your disposal.
Where to find wooden boat building plans
Most builders stick to a strictly wooden boat with some fiberglass added as an afterthought more than anything. Woodworking has much more room for error than metalworking and the tools required for the construction are easier to use. These wooden plans can be found both offline and online. For those of you looking online you should check out the Amazon books section as there are thousands of up to date designs to be found for around $50. Every year new books are released which utilize the latest woodworking techniques and tools. On the other hand you could do a search on Google for ebook packages, these are usually just as detailed and comprehensive. However you will need to get a hardcopy that you can work with unless you are comfortable using a laptop in a woodworking environment.
Some related club memberships include a very wide list of plans plans which are available for copy with no extra charge. The good thing about having this type of membership is the ability to get coaching from multiple professionals at very regular intervals. This makes the wholes process a lot easier and more enjoyable when you have a enthusiastic professional to talk to.
Considering metals such as steel and aluminum
When the cost of building your boat is not your primary concern then you might want to build an aluminum or steel boat. This type of vessel is very reliable and durable, however any repairs that need to be carried out are typically much harder and expensive. Ultimately your choice should be based upon your resources, ability to carry out the metalwork and what the function of your ship or sailing boat is going to be. Such decisions should never be based upon visual factors but practical ones. Down the line a boat that has maintenance problems but looks good is much worse than a boat that looks relatively poor but is very functional.
Other metals are available however you want boat building plans that are simple and easy to follow, this is usually not the case with those materials that are not mainstream. But if spending thousands of dollars and a technical challenge is what your after then such material orientated restrictions should not hinder your creativity.
Steps done by builders
Some plans have much different formats than others. The main type is a boat building process that is linear in the sense that you have to follow the steps exactly as they are laid out from start to finish. Other formats are made up of steps that can be carried out in a different order, but in the end require you to combine the multiple components together to form the vessel. Which plan or kit you choose comes down to your preference of course and might be limited by what resources you have at the beginning of the project. Eventually most ship builders tend to have the ability to deviate from the inflexibility of the plans due to their hard earned experience. Boat building plans might lay out the steps of the building procedure, but should not hinder your creativity when you have the required skills to carry out your vision.