The utility of Jon boats is definitely worth having a look at. The boats, that are flat-bottomed, tend to sit above the water, which makes them ideal for shallow depths. These stable boats are also very versatile and can be equipped with everything from propellors to consoles and casting.
Unfortunately, despite the versatility of function, manufacturers typically make boats 8 to 24 feet long and 32 to 60 inches wide. You might want another size or might want to make your boat more personalized. In those cases, making your own boat is your best bet. Luckily, a Jon boat is very easy to make! With that said, let’s see how you can build the perfect boat for your needs.
For the purpose of this guide, we will be telling you how to build a wooden Jon boat. You could alternatively choose to go for an aluminum or a fiber-glass based model.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Consider what type of hull you want
While most Jon boats come with a standard flat hull, you may want to choose an alternate option. The flat-bottom hull is the easiest to make and is the best if you wish to work in shallow and calm waters.
However, you may also want to consider a tunnel hull. A tunnel hull curves up from the base, letting you pull up the engine when required. This can prevent the boat from accidents such as running over objects such as logs, which could damage your boat.
Another type of hull that you might want to consider is the V-hull. A V-hull replaces the front of the Jon boat’s simplistic design. It can cut through water easily and makes your boat more streamlined.
Step 2: Decide on the dimensions
If you are making your own Jon boat, you’re likely to have chosen to do so for customization. Pre-built models are typically available for cheap. To make your boat fitting for your needs, you have to decide on what dimensions it should be.
The choice is very individual to make but for the sake of guidelines, we recommend smaller sizes if you plan on fishing. The smaller sizes, such as around 10 to 15 feet in length, should be ideal for your needs and allow you to move faster through the water.
After having decided on the length and width that you want your Jon boat to be, we can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Use a large piece of plywood for the base
The next step involves forming the base of the boat. Now that you know the dimensions that you want for your Jon boat, you can get to cutting the plywood. You can use a number of tools for that. If you’re building a wooden Jon boat, a saw would fit your needs well. For an aluminum boat, you may want to consider a plasma cutter.
There are separate cuts that you need to make for the plywood base. The first cut would be to get your boat to the right dimensions. This means that if you want your boat to be 20 inches by 10 feet, you’ll cut your plywood out to the same dimensions.
The second aspect of the cut comes in the form of the type of hull that you want. Remember that the base of the boat defines the type of hull that you get. If you want a simple typical Jon boat styled hull, your base is complete.
If you want a V-shaped hull though, you would have to make additional cuts. These cuts have to be made to make the front of the boat v-shaped. In case of making a v-shaped Jon boat, the base dimensions would be the same as the dimensions of the boat.
If you want a tunneling hull, you would need to make the base plywood thicker. You can then sand it into the desired shape.
In case you want to build a particularly large boat, your plywood may not be large enough for the right dimensions. Luckily, you can easily join the plywood pieces together to get the desired result. You can use a butt joint or a scarf joint to join the pieces together.
Step 4: Use smaller pieces of plywood for the sides of the boat
Great, so now we have our base and know the design of the boat that we wish to build. The next step comes in the form of making the sides of the boat. The sides are simply going to follow the base and should be very simple to put up.
There are still some particularities that you would want to consider though. First, you would need to decide on what size you want the sides to be of. Since a Jon boat is meant to travel above water, and not be used in waves, a small rise should be enough.
Secondly, you need to determine the design of the stern. You would need to cut out a slot in the stern for placing your motor at. This is mostly determined by how long your propeller-to-motor-distance is. If the propeller does not go low enough with the length for the sides that you chose, you would need to cut out a slot for the motor placement in the stern.
You also need to be mindful of how you form your bow. While that is mostly to your own discretion, we can offer some guidelines.
For one, you should ensure that you have a forward-slanting bow if you make a simple Jon boat. This gives the boat the ability to rise above the water to some extent and would make your boating experience more streamlined.
For a second, you should ensure that your V-boat shaped design is properly built if you choose to go for that one. The bow joint can be particularly tricky, and you might want to consider adding additional padding of plywood to stabilize it.
Step 5: Make the divisions and seats (optional)
If you’re going to use your boat, you need to have it segmented. This could be in the form of seats, for people to sit on. This could also be in the form of simple plywood pieces between the two sides. This can let you keep your fish between two plywood pieces for example, so that they don’t jump all over the place.
This would also make your boat design sturdier. The additional connectors between the two sides of the boat would make it more durable and ensure that it lasts longer. Nonetheless, adding these segments is purely optional and not necessary.
If you choose to do so though, the steps are really simple. You would need plywood that is the length of the boat’s width minus the sides, and as wide as the boat’s height, minus the base. The easier way to find these dimensions would be to use a tape measure to measure the internal sie of the boat frame. The sections can then be placed and joined.
To make seats, you can use two sections and place a flat piece of plywood on top of them. You might want to make your seat removable. That is easy to achieve as well. Simply join the plywood with a screw instead of using scarf joints. You can then undo the screws to remove it and turn your boat into one with a larger capacity.
Step 6: Test the boat in the water
Before we begin to add the peripherals, it is important to test the boat. A boat that does not survive a water test must simply be remade! There is no compromise on safety!
You can take your boat out to a nearby water source for a quick test. You should ensure that the place that you choose is safe (hint: not the open ocean). You can then put your boat into the water and test for any form of leakage. If there is none, you’re all set for the next step!
It is important to use the best quality materials when building a boat. You should test your boat till there is no leakage left.
Step 7: Add in the accessories
For the final step, you should add in whatever accessories you want for your boat. These can be in the form of oars, trolling motors, propellors, padding, fish finders and whatnot. This department is purely up to you and depends on your personal needs.
You may also want to consider sanding and painting your boat. This would hide any joints and would make your boat look better. By sanding the boat, you can ensure that it has a smooth surface. Sanding would especially help if you are making a tunnel-hull boat, and would ensure that your boat can sail smoothly.
You should carefully select what you decide to include in your boat. While you may think that you can simply add all the accessories that exist, the unnecessary burden on your boat can slow it down. Only include what you think is absolutely necessary!
With that, your Jon boat would now be complete and ready to rock the oceans. We really hope that this guide helped you and you would consider making your personalized Jon boat after having read it.
So what are you waiting for? Use this guide to make yourself your dream boat today, and conquer the ocean floor. Use these simplistic Jon boats to fish, race, or do anything else that you wish to, and show off your skills to the world!