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Three Sapele Boat Building Projects for Advanced Woodworkers

If you’ve been woodworking for a while, you’ve probably either heard of Sapele or bought it from a reputable Sapele distributor. Either way, you understand that it’s a great alternative for Mahogany, and it excels at outdoor uses and fine wood-piece crafting.

However, you might not be aware that it’s also great for boat building, and various African countries have been building boats from Sapele for hundreds of years. This is because it’s water and rot-resistant, extremely durable, and of course, fairly easy to work with for the type of cuts used in boat building.

If you are a fan of this common Mahogany alternative, but you haven’t tried your hand at building a boat that you can actually take out for a bit of recreational sailing, here are three boat types that advanced woodworkers shouldn’t have any problem making to spec.

1: Kayak

This is probably the simplest Sapele boat project you can take on, and it’s where we recommend first-time boat builders start their journey.

Kayaks are relatively small, one to a two-seater, boats that rely on paddling from the user to propel themselves through the water.

On the surface, a Sapele kayak is merely a wooden frame built with enough room for one to two riders to sit in a single-file line towards the middle of the boat. Everything beyond that, you can let your creativity free with.

Maybe you’ll want to carve cultural markings on the kayak’s surface, create more elaborate seating, add storage compartments for fishing gear or lunch boxes, etc. You can do that, and because kayaks are smaller than our other two suggestions, it won’t cost you as much to take this project on.

2: Canoe

This is the same concept as a kayak, but it’s a lot larger, and the seating arrangement is left open. This can even be a simpler project than a kayak in terms of cuts and engineering requirements.

However, because a canoe is much larger than a kayak, you can expect it to take more time, and it’ll be much more expensive. Sapele is cheaper than Mahogany, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap overall. It’s definitely not poplar.

Another concern with building a canoe is that you need a lot of room for it, and transporting it will be much more difficult unless you own a vehicle substantial enough to properly transport it.

3: Sailboat

Sailboats come in all sorts of designs, and they can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them. These boats also tend to hold more people, aren’t limited to streamlined sitting, and of course, the inclusion of a sail means you can save your energy instead of rowing all the time.

Some small sailboats will make for great couple’s getaway vessels, but if you have the money, a larger vessel can be the perfect choice for getting into sailing without paying the tens of thousands of dollars that usually entails.

However, these are a lot more complex than kayaks or canoes. They’re full structures with complex engineering involved. That, and even the smaller options require more wood than a canoe. So, while you won’t be spending boat club money, you will be investing a pretty penny.

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