Materials for shipbuilding

A variety of materials are used in shipbuilding:

Wood is a traditional shipbuilding material that was and still is used to make masts and hulls.

It is cheap, widely available and manageable. It is not particularly resistant to abrasion and can deteriorate if fresh water or marine organisms get into it.

For wooden boats, rot-resistant woods such as cedar and oak are usually chosen. Glue, screws and/or nails are used to connect the wooden parts.

Another method of building wooden boats is lapstrak, a technique originally identified with the Vikings, in which wooden planks are attached to each other with a slight overlap that is beveled for a tight fit.

The boards can be mechanically fastened to each other with copper rivets, angled iron nails, screws, or glue. Often steam-bent wooden frames are built inside the enclosure.

One method of building boats from plywood panels is known as the staple-and-glue method, in which prefabricated plywood panels are glued around the edges and reinforced with fiberglass without the use of a frame. Metal or plastic cables bend the flat panels into curved three-dimensional shapes. These helmets usually have one or more spikes.

Steel (iron was previously used)

Used in sheets for metal enclosures or for structural insulated members. It is strong, but heavy. The material oxidizes when not protected from water. Modern steel components are welded or cast. For more information, read https://www.zalivdesign.com/services/steel-outfitting/.

Until the mid-1900s, steel sheets were glued together. Aluminum - used in sheets for metal enclosures or in insulated structural components. Many masts are made of aluminum.

The material requires special manufacturing techniques, construction tools, and construction skills. Although aluminum is easy to cut, it is difficult to weld, and it also requires heat treatment such as deposition, which is amplified for most of its applications. Corrosion is a problem with aluminum, especially below the waterline.


Commonly used for boat fabrication because of the ability to reuse the encompassing mold as the basis for the boat mold. The resulting structure is tensile strength.

Fiberglass hulls are largely non-corrosive, although they are not usually flame retardant.

However, it does increase stiffness, which means that less resin and fiberglass can be used to reduce weight. Most fiberglass boats today are made in open form, with the fiberglass and resin applied by hand.