Why would an individual prefer to own a wooden drift boat instead of a boat manufactured using other materials such as fiberglass or aluminum?
Many people are naturally drawn to a wooden boat. Unlike other materials, wood conjures up images of more romantic times and provides you with a feeling of warmth and elegance. When commissioning a boat it will be designed and hand-crafted to match your tastes and requirements. It will provide the owner with years of enjoyment and pride because of the craftsmanship and history it embodies.
When comparing the advantages of wood over other materials one must consider the many additional benefits often over looked. First and foremost, wood is relatively easy to obtain. It is not terribly expensive if sourced from the proper suppliers. Working with wood is well within the skill set of most people and the techniques involved can be performed in a basement or garage with a minimum of tools.
But what about the wood itself? How do its physical characteristics compare to other materials common in boat construction?
Wood, even in its most natural state, is extremely buoyant. The heaviest and most dense species float well. Many other materials require additional floatation or foam to achieve proper buoyancy. Air tight compartments added to a wooden boat, for example those created during the addition of elevated level floors, simply improve its natural buoyancy.
It is very strong. Consider the following:
• In terms of strength vs. weight, wood is stronger than steel, aluminum and most fiberglass
• In terms of stiffness vs. weight, wood is stiffer per pound than S-glass, E-glass and Kevlar
• In terms of tensile strength, wood is stronger per pound than common electrical-grade fiberglass
• In terms of structural efficiency, which relates stiffness to density, wood is per pound the most efficient material for producing a given structure
Wood is pliable enough to flex a small degree allowing it to absorb shock and unwanted vibration, yet it remains rigid enough to be an excellent material for hulls, decks, dry boxes and hatch covers.
Wood also insulates against heat, cold, and noise. Wood doesn’t fatigue.
Imagine the benefits of a wooden hull, constructed of marine-grade Mahogany plywood and lightweight hardwood, if it was encapsulated within several thin layers of fiberglass cloth and todays modern epoxy. This simple sheathing improves abrasion and impact resistance and prevents moisture from contacting the wood. The resulting wood-fiberglass-epoxy hull forms a one-piece monocoque structure that cannot leak. The benefits of epoxy are not realized in the hull only. By sealing and coating all wood in a boat with epoxy, and by using epoxy to glue parts together, the builder is able to take advantage of wood’s structural properties while negating its tendencies to rot, swell or contract when exposed to water.
When it comes to wooden boat construction, what’s not to love?