A Jon boat is possibly one of the easiest boats to build due to its flat bottom and even sides. The hull is sturdy and provides very steady buoyancy. Jon boats are not the best suited vessels for rough seas or choppy lakes. The flat bottom does not cut through water the way a deeper "v" hull would, but for smooth or very shallow water fishing a Jon boat is hard to beat. You can build your own Jon boat in a few hours without a lot of expensive tools, big building areas, or heavy forms.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Circular saw
- 4 sheets ¾-inch marine plywood
- 1" by 8" by 8-foot boards (2)
- 2" by 10" by 8 foot board
- 1" by 2" by 8 foot furring strips (8)
- 1" by 4" by 8 foot furring strip
- Liquid Nails
- 4" by 15-5/8" butt joint
- 2-inch ring-shanked galvanised nails or screws.
- Fibreglass tape
Use a circular saw to cut out two 6' by 10" sections of plywood for the front and rear panels of the Jon boat.
Cut out two sheets of 4' by 8' from the plywood for both rear sides. Remove an angled section at the bottom rear of each side starting 30 inches from the rear wall angled up to a 10-inch bottom.
Cut out two 4' x 4' sections of plywood for the front sides of the Jon boat. Remove a section from the bottom at the front to make an incline beginning 18 inches from the front angled up to a 10-inch bottom.
Join the front and rear panels of each side together to form the full sides. Brace them at the joint with a butt joint. Use Liquid Nails to join the two ends and the butt joint, then use a screwdriver to insert screws at 2-inch intervals in all directions with ¾-inch hot-dipped #8 galvanised screws.
Assemble the boat by building forms out of the 1" by 4" furring strips. These are simple braces with sides angled at the same degree you want the boat's sides angled. The easiest and fastest way to build a Jon boat is to make it straight and square from front to back.
Lay the sides along the braces and screw them to the forms with one screw per brace. These will be removed when the entire frame is together so don't overdo the attachments.
Place a piece of plywood, cut to size for the bottom length and width, on the flat (middle) bottom, and use Liquid Nails along the seam where the sides meet the bottom. Screw the plywood bottom to the edge of the side piece of plywood on each side at 2-inch intervals.
Position a piece of cut to size plywood on the front incline of the bottom. Use Liquid Nails to attach and secure the bottom piece to the bottom edge of the plywood sides with screws at 2-inch intervals.
Place a piece of cut to size plywood on the back incline of the bottom. Use Liquid Nails to attach and secure the bottom to the bottom edge of the plywood sides with screws at 2-inch intervals.
Insert the front piece of plywood across the bow and attach it to the front edges of the plywood sides. Use Liquid Nails to attach the front piece to the side edges of plywood and secure it with screws at 2-inch intervals. Repeat with the rear panel.
Use fibreglass tape to cover all seams and joints. For extra long life and better looks, apply fibreglass mat and use paint or spray fibreglass resin on the entire hull.
Cut six 1" by 2" furring strips, one strip each to fit the three side joint sections (front slant, middle flat and rear slant) on each side of the Jon boat. Glue the strips to the inside of the joint sections (front, middle and rear) on both sides for extra support. Attach the furring strips firmly with screws at 2-inch intervals.
Cut two (or three if you want three seats) 6-foot sections of 2" by 10" board for seats. Screw these to the sides of the boat.
Remove all frames from inside of the boat. Do not do this step until all seats are in place to brace the sides.
Tips and warnings
- Add a front storage area or fishing platform at the bow by adding braces and a piece of plywood for a floor.
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