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How to Build a Boat in the Camp

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever dreamed of owning a boat of your own, so that you could explore around the bend of a river, or just float lazily along a lake? Why not build the boat of your dreams?

As far as the appearance of your vessel is concerned, you don't have to be too particular. The important thing is its absolute seaworthiness. Perhaps it's too much to call these crafts "boats"; for the most part, they're actually rafts or floats, but they all serve the purpose of carrying you on the water. For example, here is a tube-boat. This is made of old tire tubes which are first carefully patched, then pumped up, and finally bound together with boards and ropes as the illustration shows. The ropes should be as thick as possible so they will not cut into the tubes. You can make paddles out of small boards nailed to short poles.

The water-flea is a different model, and to make it you first need a tree trunk. Fasten a pole crosswise at each end of the trunk and bind a small log or block of wood to the ends of each pole. This provides you with four floats which prevent the tree trunk from spinning on its own axis. Fasten blocks to serve as foot supports on both sides at the middle of the trunk. In order to reduce water resistance, the blocks and the trunk are pointed. To make the barrel-float, you need a barrel, some poles, and two boards. The result will be a very unusual and individual boat. A tin-can raft can be made in the same way as the tube-boat, with large cans such as oil drums instead of the tire tubes.

If you're even more ambitious, you can build a regular boat, much like the ones built by some boys in Switzerland, who made a whole fleet. This boat has room for three or four boys.

Length: about 16 feet
Greatest width (must not be in the middle; rather than at the 8-foot mark, have the widest point about 71/2 feet from the bow): about 32 inches
Width of bottom: about 24 inches
Height: about 12 inches

Pine or fir boards as free from knotholes as possible:
2 Boards: 3/4" x 12" x 16'
3 boards tongued and grooved:
3/4" x 24" (total) x 16'
2 beam pieces: about 6" x 8"
x 18"
Laths: about 6" screws, bolts, 11/4" nails

1. Cut both sideboards and the two endblocks (Diagram lb) to shape. In order to give the boat better navigating qualities, the sideboards have to run together and taper at the bottom. By doing this, you raise the floorboards both fore and aft. Therefore, the endblocks have to be set in at an angle (a slope of about 4") to give the bow and stern racy lines. (The angle formed inside the sidewalls where they meet the endblocks should be a narrow one.) The sides can be screwed down to the endblocks permanently, but because of the flooring take care to let the sidewalls extend about an inch beyond the bottom of the endblocks.
2. Bolt the frames together as shown in Diagram 2 and force them between the sidewalls. Since the boards can still be bowed considerably now, this was the reason for choosing a narrow angle at the ends. Screw the frames tight on one side, but once again have the sidewalls extend beyond the bottoms of the frames by the thickness of the floorboards.
3. The flooring is a little more trouble. Put together the three boards which have been tongued and grooved. Clamp down the sidewall, which has not yet been screwed tight, temporarily with
C-clamps. Then place the whole boat on top of the flooring and trace the outline along the inside.
NOTE: YOU must set the flooring in with the sidewalls overlapping it. Only in this way will the boat be watertight when the wood swells in the water. Cut the floor boards out along the traced outline and screw the flooring tightly to the frames and the endblocks. Now you can also screw the second sidewall down permanently. For stability, insert an auxiliary frame at the middle of the boat (Diagram 3).
4. To make the boat watertight; before you nail the flooring to the sidewalk, you must calk the crack (pack it with oakum). The cheapest outside protection for the boat is tar, and you can paint the inside with an inexpensive oil-base paint.
5. You also need paddles. Canoe paddles (Diagram 4) work out the best. Make them long enough to reach your waist.

Whether you want to build an individual or a regular boat, be sure to collect the best materials and take proper measurement to make your dream into reality and perfect.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.best-scopes-n-binoculars.com/, http://www.ezcampingguide.info/ , http://www.goodbudgetholiday.info/
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